What is your favourite ’90s shopping mall shop? Vote in our nostalgic holiday getaway shopping bracket

Those who comply with me on Twitter know that I have two passions: meals and searching malls.

On the latter subject, it’s the era of GTA malls in the ’80s and ’90s in unique — just before they had been all renovated into cookie cutter, white-tiled laboratories. I loved the sizzling air balloons at Scarborough Town Centre, the large kite artwork at the Eaton Centre (it’s now at the Barrie General public Library) and the terrazzo tables at the Fairview Mall food court docket, even if the stench of the cigarette smoking portion was in all places.

Look, as a person whose adulthood was ushered in by the 2008 economic downturn, who is continuously reminded that I will under no circumstances be ready to manage a property in my metropolis (and if I did, it would possibly be underwater in a number of many years in any case), I cannot support but assume fondly of an era in which I had no ideas — just vibes and Icees.

Preserving with the spirit of my prior Bulk Barn snack bracket for Halloween, I imagined through this year’s vacation buying year it would be exciting to reminisce about the merchants that I (and quite a few of you in all probability) shopped at.

I would like to take note that not all the shops in this bracket are fully absent. As with the evolution of retail, some went underneath a name modify, many others have gone solely on the web and a handful of merged with other firms. Also observe, yes, I miss Honest Ed’s much too, but we’re talking about shopping mall chains. I also really do not rely the World’s Greatest Bookstore considering that it was a stand-by yourself.

So have at it. Partake in this nostalgic celebration of consumerism without owning to imagine about supply chains.

Just like last time, vote for your favourites and check out back to see which store helps make the minimize.

  • Dec. 11: To start with spherical one particular of voting commences.

  • Dec. 13: To start with round of voting ends at midday ET, and the second round starts off.
  • Dec. 15: Second spherical of voting ends at midday ET, and the semifinals commence.
  • Dec. 17: Semifinals voting finishes at noon ET, and the final spherical commences.
  • Dec. 20: Ultimate spherical of voting finishes at midday ET, and the winner is declared.

Division retail store group 1


The defunct office retail store that life on via its namesake downtown Toronto shopping mall to start with submitted for bankruptcy in the late ’90s and was taken above by Sears Canada, which attempted to revamp the manufacturer as a higher-end retailer in the early 2000s (remember that major spending plan Aubergine commercial?). The irony is that Sears Canada later on went by way of an unsuccessful revival of its personal in the mid-2010s just before closing for very good.


The lesson in mall chain background is that a good deal of stores simply get absorbed by acquisitions. The Simpsons section retail outlet was bought out by The Bay in the late ’70s, and lots of of its stores were turned into Bay areas. It is why The Bay’s headquarters future to its flagship Queen West store is in a making known as the Simpson Tower.

Division store team 2


The price reduction subsidiary of The Bay is far more remembered for its mascot Zeddy and in-retailer cafe than just about anything else. For me, I saw it as the shop that met an unjust close when its spots have been cleared out to make way for the arrival of Focus on Canada. When Target soon fizzled out, Zellers never ever returned (conserve for a number of signs at a Burlington pop-up this previous summer time) and malls were being remaining with huge empty areas.


Even though Woolco was really founded in Ohio, its Canadian spots outlasted the American outlets. But the Canadian Woolcos satisfied a identical fate to Zellers. In the early ’90s, Woolco was cleared out in order for Walmart to enter the Canadian market place.

Section shop team 3

People Distributing

The department retail store founded in Toronto was a precursor to online buying, as consumers flipped by way of its catalogues at the entrance of the shop and employees would retrieve products in the stockroom. I assume the only thing our loved ones purchased from below had been sleeping luggage for my to start with slumber get together ahead of Shoppers Distributing closed all its spots in 1996.


For these who couldn’t afford Five Star binders, BiWay was always there for back-to-faculty desires. There were being plans to convey again the surplus price reduction retailer in fall 2020, but all-around that time, Mal Coven a single of the initial founders of BiWay who was also behind the reopening, died, placing the options to revive the retail outlet on maintain indefinitely or likely cancelled.

The place adult Karon even now shopped right up until the close

The Disney Retailer

While not Canadian, it was still a staple for a ton of ’90s kids, especially the unique glimpse of the Disney Shop with its carpeted floors and gradual-going animatronics overhead. The corporation shut all its Canadian shops before this 12 months. Am I only like this in the bracket to justify obtaining the Countdown to the Millennium established of 102 pins and binder again in 1999? Maybe.


Mmmuffins’ final Toronto area in the Scotiabank Plaza closed at the start of the pandemic. Having said that, when I wrote about my beloved shopping mall bakery a few several years ago, the business that owned the chain told me they may possibly inventory Mmmuffins at State Style. Lo and behold, you can now find them at the doughnut store. Welcome back again, cheddar muffin.

Exactly where Karon used all his back again-to-school cash as a teen

Randy River

I cannot believe of a keep that catered to teen boys as significantly as Randy River. It was the epitome of Y2K trend: ribbed thick-knit tank tops intended to be worn by by themselves, extremely saggy cargo pants, comically extensive ribbon belts with flame graphics (I continue to have said belts in my closet).

Grand & Toy

The workplace offer company launched in 1882 closed its remaining 19 retail destinations in 2014, but continue to exists as an on the web shop less than the ownership of American business The Office environment Depot.

Exactly where all the amazing youngsters that ignored Karon shopped

Le Chateau

The coolest little ones that had their progress spurts in superior college shopped below and as a teenager I yearned to have the guts to wear the ’90s boy band fashions this retail outlet stocked. The Montreal apparel organization declared personal bankruptcy last 12 months but just lately relaunched on the internet via its new proprietor, Suzy Shier, with designs to stock its garments in some Suzy Shier places future year.

Jacob/Jacob Jr./Jacob Connexion

All I don’t forget about this Montreal-centered retail outlet is that my older sister went to Jacob Jr. to get knee-length spaghetti-strap attire that she’d don above white baby tees and pair with Timberland boots and a choker. The actual physical suppliers closed in 2014, but the corporation continues to market its fragrances on the net.

Wild card team 1

Toys Toys Toys

Technically Toys Toys Toys is still all-around even with a personal bankruptcy submitting final yr and some destinations closing (which may be a strike towards it in the spirit of this nostalgia bracket). The remaining places are now termed Playtime Toys and nevertheless focus in difficult-to-obtain plushies. For my technology it was Beanie Toddlers, for my niece, Squishmallows. Previously in the tumble I purchased a Squishmallow at the Hillcrest Shopping mall Playtime Toys and it in fact arrived in a Toys Toys Toys bag.

… It Store

Prior to the Canadian arrival of Very hot Subject matter and Spencer’s there was the …It Retailer with its seductive red neon indicator. We instructed our mother and father we were being heading to search at anything G-rated like Beanie Toddlers, but ended up secretly stealing glances of PG13 grownup-themed calendars.

Wild card group 2

Long term Shop

But an additional tale of a retail store getting absorbed in buyouts. The B.C.-based electronics megastore was bought out by Ideal Obtain in 2015.

Bata Footwear

The Bata shoe company was as soon as centered in Ontario until eventually all of its Canadian areas closed by the mid-2000s (and quickly after, its sister firm Athlete’s Entire world). Its headquarters are now in Switzerland and Bata shops nonetheless exists in other countries. In Toronto, the Bata legacy lives on by means of the Bata Shoe Museum.

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