Big chains are closing stores left and right. Once bustling malls are ghost towns. Shopping online is now the norm. There’s no doubt there’ve been some big changes to the retail landscape in the past few years. Some chains are changing to compete in a new environment, where it’s increasingly easy to get everything you need with a simple click. Other stores are on their last legs. Either way, it’s enough to have you longing for the way things used to be.
These photos show what some of America’s favorite retailers looked like back in the day, and what they look like now. Check out page 13 to see which store some have called the Amazon of its time.
Toys R Us: Then
It wasn’t that long ago that long lines like the one seen above were the norm at Toys R Us. Shoppers flocked to the biggest toy store chain in the U.S. to get the latest must-have toys for their kids, especially on big shopping days like Black Friday.
Toys R Us had its roots in America’s postwar economic expansion. Founder Charles Lazarus opened his first store, called Children’s Bargain Town, in 1948, at the dawn of the baby boom. By 1957 he’d created the first major toy store chain in the U.S. Parents and kids couldn’t get enough.
Next: The end of an era.