50 Beloved Retail Chains That No Longer Exist

At the start of this decade, many of America’s beloved major retailers announced that they’d be closing their stores—Papyrus, Macy’s, Pier 1 Imports, JCPenney—the list goes on. It’s a pattern that recurs throughout retail history. Chains grow quickly and incur new expenses as they expand. Then they hit the limit of their funding and growth opportunities and downsize to manage their debt and restructuring. Some can recover. Many, however, end up filing for bankruptcy and/or getting bought out and eventually folding.

Cycles of Retail Evolution

It’s a familiar cycle. The economy improves, and the market becomes saturated with choice. When the economy slows, dips, and dives, very few can survive. With each cycle, stores that we thought would always be around, stores that defined our childhoods, even our parents’ childhoods, fizzle, fade, and become the stuff of retail history. Some are iconic brands like Tower Records, Thom McAn, and Kids “R” Us.

Robert Lachman/Los Angeles Times // Getty Images

Robert Lachman/Los Angeles Times // Getty Images


Stacker reviewed a variety of sources to take a close look at various major retail chains that no longer exist. Many of these chains led the pack at one point in history. Many of them even paved the way for their competitors, who eventually overtook them. Blockbuster, for example, was the largest video retailer worldwide and was valued at $3 billion at its height. Now there’s only one Blockbuster store left on the planet: in Bend, Oregon.

For Better or Worse: Amazon Changed Everything

Other chains couldn’t keep up with the rise of e-commerce sites like Amazon. Sharper Image, for example, was once the only place where tech lovers could flock to play with high-end and niche gadgets. But then Amazon started selling similar products online.

While it’s all part of evolution and Darwinian economics, the sad reality is that when these stores die, parts of our memories go with them. Still, it’s a lesson that most businesses must learn: adapt with the times, or be lost forever. Are you ready to see the top 50 major retailers that no longer exist? Keep reading to see if your favorites made the list.

LOOK: 50 Beloved Retail Chains That No Longer Exist

Stacker takes a look at 50 major retail chains that no longer exist and the reasons for their demise.  

Gallery Credit: Madison Troyer