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Popular 80s Stores That No Longer Exist

The 80's Blog Dec 02, 2021

Have you ever wondered what happened to the old chain stores and restaurants from the 1980s? We all remember them fondly, and among our favorite 80s stores that no longer exist includes Kay-Bee Toy Stores, County Seat, Camelot Music, Merry-Go-Round Clothing Company, and Waldenbooks.

80s Stores That No Longer Exist

They’re gone now. All of them closed their doors for good. But why did they leave us? Where did they go? What are they doing now? Let’s take a look at these stores that we miss from the 1980s.

1. Kay-Bee Toys

Throughout most of its existence, Kay-Bee Toys was one of the most popular toy stores in America. It all started back in 1959 when George Lerner opened his first “toy supermarket,” called Childs Department Store. His goal was to bring the idea of a giant toy store into a reality.

He did this by taking advantage of retail spaces that department stores usually occupied during the day. Then at night, after the department store closed for business, he would move in with his own brightly colored signs and toys for sale.

Eventually, many owners followed him with their versions of his concept – thus creating what we today know as superstore retail chains!

kay bee toys

2. County Seat

This chain specialized in selling high-quality sportswear and apparel geared towards adults. This was the bargain department store of its day! Their strategy was to directly compete with Kmart and Wal-Mart by offering items at the lowest possible price.

As a result, they purchased most of their merchandise directly from overseas manufacturers – thus decreasing prices even further than their competitors could offer. Unfortunately for County Seat, this eventually led to poor quality control.

county seat clothing

Also, the method they used to stock their shelves didn’t mesh well with consumers looking for better service when shopping. It might seem odd these days, but people wanted workers who knew more than just how to scan an item’s barcode!

Eventually, they began laying off employees to cut costs, but that only added to most of their problems in the long run.

3. Camelot Music

For nearly three decades, Camelot Music was known as one of America’s leading music stores. They expanded beyond just offering records and tapes and began selling CDs, DVDs, video games, and even toys as time went by.

It would be difficult to find a mall in America today without a music store in it, but back when Camelot Music was around, they were the only game in town!

camelot music
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4. Merry-Go-Round

Merry Go Round was an offshoot of Kay-Bee Toys and began as a toy store just like the original franchise. However, they also sold clothing, furniture, and other products.

It became even more successful than its former parent company but merged with it to take advantage of its more extensive resources after losing over three hundred million dollars over twelve years.

After selling everything from Cabbage Patch Kids dolls to skateboards to Teddy Ruxpin digital toys, very few people can remember or recognize the name “Merry Go Round” today because it has all but vanished into history.

merry go round store

5. Waldenbooks

This was once one of the largest bookstores in America and sold over 50,000 titles spread across four stories at their peak. However, it eventually became just another casualty in the war against Walmart.

This chain tried to compete by opening its superstores called “Megastores” before being rebranded because of copyright infringement concerns with a significant discount retailer named “Big Lots.”

waldenbooks 80s

After years of competition with Barnes & Noble, the investment backfired, which drove them out of business entirely by 2005, forcing them to sell off everything they had left.

Even though this bookstore began as a small operation, there are still dozens of people who miss being able to step foot in one of these stores, look at the selection of books and then purchase any one they liked.


The 1980s are often called the decade of consumerism. Stores were popping up everywhere because more American families had money to spend. Many stores were open for longer hours because Americans no longer worked six or seven days a week.

Selling things became more important than ever before, so new chains sprang up overnight. Some turned into large corporations, while others faded away as quickly as they appeared.

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