Growing up, going to your local shopping malls were exciting! You didn't have to wait for your order to arrive from the catalog, you could just show up, and the malls felt like they had everything! There were the terrific toy stores, stylish clothing stores, the exciting arcades, and more! So many events would happen at the mall, and it would be a great place to hang out with your friends.

I know I'm talking about them as if they are something from a distant past, but mall culture is just not the same anymore with the growth of online shopping and a post-pandemic mindset. Many of the big, bright chains that we knew and loved either went out of business or operate mainly online.

A lot of listeners here in the Hudson Valley mentioned how they miss the Dutchess Mall and the South Hills Mall as a whole. The South Hills Mall looks nothing like it used to, mainly a glorified strip mall now hidden beneath the shadow of the Poughkeepsie Galleria right next door. The Dutchess Mall got it even worse, essentially lying still as an empty lot for years.

Some people mourn older versions of certain stores. Some people said they miss what stores used to be like versus what they have now, like "OG Hottopic not the SpongeBob stuff they have now" or "Og Pacsun, not this bs prepy version they have how."

Though we can't go back and visit many of these places, we can still take a stroll down memory lane. Some of these stores you may remember, some of them you might not. Some may unlock a memory you didn't even knew you still had! See which stores people in the Hudson Valley miss the most. I have to say, Number 1 was my favorite, as well!

20) FYE

FYE, the initials for For Your Entertainment, is an American chain of entertainment retail stores headquartered in Albany, New York. Formerly owned by Trans World Entertainment, it began in 1993 and was expanded in 2001, 2006, and again in 2009 after buying out and rebranding mall-based stores CamelotSam GoodySpec's Music, Strawberries, Record Town, Coconuts, DiscJockey, Saturday Matinee, The Wall, Suncoast Motion Picture CompanyMusiclandMedia Play, and His Master's Voice stores. FYE had been known for its wide array of CD's, DVD's, VHS's and more media along with posters, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Today, the emphasis has flipped more to the pop culture merchandise rather than physical media. To FYE's history in the Hudson Valley has been all over the place. There was an abundance of FYE stores, and then we lost them all for years! However, the Poughkeepsie Galleria just regained it's FYE, so that's good news!

19) Woolworth

The F. W. Woolworth Company (often referred to as Woolworth's or simply Woolworth) was a retail company and one of the pioneers of the five-and-dime store. It was among the most successful American and international five-and-dime businesses, setting trends and creating the modern retail model that stores follow worldwide today.

18) dELiA*s

Delia's Inc was a lifestyle brand with apparel and accessories for girls and young women primarily ranging from ages 10 - 24. Delia's sold apparel, accessories, footwear, cosmetics, and room furnishing. They were very well known for their catalogues in the 90's. The brand currently operates under license as a sub-brand for online retailer Dolls Kill.

17) Deb

For anyone who misses Deb, it still exists as an online and catalog retailer. The women's retail chain, which started in 1939 in Philadelphia, closed their physical locations in 2015 by shutting down its 295 stores.

16) J. J. Newberry

J. J. Newberry's was an American five and dime store chain in the 20th century. It was founded in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, United States, in 1911 by John Josiah Newberry. J. J. Newberry learned the variety store business by working in stores for 17 years between 1894 and 1911.

15) Wanamakers

John Wanamaker Department Store was one of the first department stores in the United States. Founded by John Wanamaker in Philadelphia, it was influential in the development of the retail industry including as the first store to use price tags.


14) Caldor

"The Bloomingdale's of discounting!" Caldor, Inc. was a discount department store chain founded in 1951 by husband and wife Carl and Dorothy Bennett. Caldor grew from a second story "Walk-Up-&-Save" operation in Port Chester, New York, into a regional retailing giant.

13) Wet Seal

Wet Seal was an American fast fashion retailer, headquartered in Los Angeles, California. The retailer specialized in selling clothing and accessories. The company was founded in Newport Beach, California, by Lorne Huycke in 1962 as "Lorne's." Another company that people said they missed was Contempo Casuals, which was a former women's clothing retailer that was acquired by Wet Seal.

12) Dream Machine

Before everyone had their gaming consoles or played games on their phone, the arcades ruled above all! Dream Machine is a now defunct retail chain of fun centers filled with arcade games and more.

11) JCPenney's

For anyone reading this and wondering, "But I still have a JCPenney near me!" you are quite lucky. Those in the Middletown area or those who like to travel to Connecticut still enjoy this department store; however, folks who frequent the Poughkeepsie Galleria just pass by an empty storefront. The chain has seen its ups and downs in recent years; however, the department store chain operates 664 stores across 49 states and Puerto Rico.

10) The Wall

The Wall, a music store chain in the northeast United States, started out as Wall to Wall Sound & Video/Listening Booth. It was taken over by Camelot. Later, Camelot was bought out by Trans World Entertainment and is now defunct.

READ MORE: Diehard Locals Launch Fan-Page For Former Poughkeepsie Mall

9) G. Fox & Co.

G. Fox & Co. was a large department store that originated in Hartford, Connecticut. It was the largest privately held department store in the nation when it was sold in 1965 to the May Department Stores Company. The company ceased operations in 1993. The G. Fox & Co brand was converted into the Filene's brand. However, in 2005, the May Company merged with Federated Department Stores which converted the store and several regional chains into Macy's.

8) The Science Store

Just as the name says, it's main focus was on science activities for children. They offered many great activities, experiments, school supplies, toys and more!

7) HKT

I used to buy all of my Pokémon toys from this store! HKT Was a Japanese specialty store full of manga, anime VHS's, toys, figurines, Japanese snacks and more! It may not be in the South Hills Mall anymore, but there still is HKT in the Hudson Plaza in Poughkeepsie.

6) KB Toys

Everyone misses the toy stores above all, which makes sense, it was the hub of childhood! KB Toys was an American chain of mall-based retail toy stores. In 1999, the company operated 1,324 stores across the United States and was the second-largest toy retailer in the U.S., but it later declared bankruptcy in both 2004 and 2008 before going out of business on February 9, 2009. The company operated 461 stores at the time of its closure. International retailer Toys "R" Us acquired the remains of K·B Toys, consisting mainly of its website, trademarks, and intellectual property rights. Strategic Marks, a company that buys and revives defunct brands, purchased the brand in 2016, and planned to open new stores using the name beginning in 2019; plans for this revival, however, were cancelled due to a lack of funding. As of 2020, all trademarks for K·B Toys have been abandoned by Strategic Marks and is currently not used by any company as of 2023

5) Hickory Farms

Hickory Farms specializes in gift boxes and baskets, wine gifts, chocolates, and charcuterie gifts. Its foods are found in more than 500 pop-up shops and kiosks in retail shopping centers during the holiday season. It started in 1951 with selling handcrafted cheeses at local fairs in Chicago. By 1959, they added summer sausage and opened its first retail store in Maumee, Ohio. In the 80's, they operated over 1,000 Hickory Farms stores and kiosks across the US and Canada.

4) Borders Bookstore

I used to love to go to Borders growing up. Though it was a little further from than say Barnes & Noble (which I also love), there was a certain vibe about the place that was great to get school work done at, and relax. Borders Group, Inc. was an American multinational book and music retailer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. In its final year, the company employed about 19,500 people throughout the U.S., primarily in its Borders and Waldenbooks stores. Borders closed down in 2011.

3) The Warner Bros. Store

The Warner Bros. Studio Store was a chain of retail stores selling Looney TunesDC Comics, and other merchandise based on Warner Bros. films, similar in style to The Disney Store. They first opened in 1991. In 1996, Warner Bros. owner Time Warner merged with Turner Broadcasting, which owned Hanna-Barbera and the pre-1986 MGM library, and merchandise based on Hanna-Barbera and other Turner properties were added to the product lines. In 2001, all Warner Bros. Studio Stores went out of business, although some independently owned locations in Australia continued to operate until 2008.

2) Toys"R"Us

"I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys"R"Us kid! There's tons of toys at Toys"R"Us that I can play with!" This was the epitomy of toy stores for anyone growing up in the later half of the twentieth century and the early 2000s. Sadly, even Toys"R"Us had to grow up. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and 2018, closing all of its stores in the US, UK, and Australia, with the last US stores closing in 2021. In August 2021, WHP Global announced that Toys "R" Us would be opening over 400 stores within Macy's starting in 2022. The flagship store is located in New Jersey at the American Dream shopping and entertainment complex.

Honorable Mentions (I couldn't find much info on these places, so if anyone has any info, please let us know)

  • TeePee Dashery
  • The Copper Rivet

1) Media Play

Media Play was a chain of retail stores founded in 1992 by Musicland that sold VHS, DVDs, music, electronics, toys, video games, anime, books, and board games similar to Hastings Entertainment, 2nd and Charles, and Half Price Books. Each store contained full book, movie, music, and video game sections under one roof. Unfortunately, Media Play closed down in 2006.

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Gallery Credit: Conor Walsh