Top 10 Stores That Don't Exist Anymore 



Top 10 Stores That Don't Exist Anymore 

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Matt Klem
Nothing lasts forever. For this list, we'll be looking at US retail chains and stores which have closed their physical locations and gone out of business, either due to a switch to online sales, or simply being no longer commercially viable for various reasons. Our countdown includes Blockbuster, Borders, Circuit City, and more!

Top 10 Stores That Don’t Exist Anymore

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Stores That Don’t Exist Anymore.

For this list, we’ll be looking at US retail chains and stores which have closed their physical locations and gone out of business, either due to a switch to online sales, or simply being no longer commercially viable for various reasons.

Have you seen a famous store or chain close its doors in your town? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Circuit City

Founded in 1949 under the name Wards Company, Circuit City was one of the most popular consumer electronics stores in the United States. During their peak, the chain boasted more than 550 stores across the country, offering plenty of electronic goods and services. They even had a chance to buy out the fledgling Best Buy operation in 1988, but declined when Circuit City’s CEO thought they could just put them out of business. Well, that didn’t work out in the long run. When 2007 rolled around, wages were being cut, locations were being closed, and management turnover was at a high. By 2009, the company pulled the plug, and the days of Circuit City were over.

#9: A&P

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company existed from 1859 to 2015. Known to most customers simply as A&P, there was a time when they were a huge player in the grocery business. From a few retail shops selling tea and coffee in New York, the company blossomed after being acquired by George Huntington Hartford. From there, over much time, it became a full-on grocery store, which would eventually have roughly 16,000 locations. However, by the 1970s, the stores had become conceptually stale and plagued by bad customer service. The chain did manage to have a bit of a comeback in the early aughts but was short lived, and it finally went under in 2015.

#8: F. W. Woolworth Company

Did you know that Woolworth’s may have been the original inspiration for the dollar store? Founded by Frank Winfield Woolworth in 1879, it opened as “Woolworth’s Great Five Cent Store”, which sold everything for a nickel or two. Although that operation didn’t last, the subsequent store became successful. Frank brought in his brother, Charles Sumner Woolworth, and the two began a journey that would see their ideas about retail continue to be used today. Woolworth’s was highly successful until the 1980s, when stiff competition forced them to shift their priorities to their sporting goods division. In 2001, they became known as Foot Locker and are still selling sporting goods today. A few dozen Woolworth stores do still continue to exist in Mexico, under different ownership.

#7: Sam Goody

Much like many other music retailers, Sam Goody became the victim of the digital revolution in music. Founded in 1951 as a small music shop in New York City, it eventually merged with Musicland which helped expand the brand. At its peak, the Sam Goody-branded stores expanded to 800 locations and brought in several billion dollars worth of revenue. It had become almost synonymous with music retail, which held it above water for a long time. But after struggling through a handful of acquisitions, and changes to its business model, the stores began to close. By 2012, most of the stores were gone, or simply rebranded as FYE.

#6: Borders

Ever since Gutenberg revolutionized printing so long ago, books have been in demand. This human desire to learn or enjoy stories is what eventually spawned the likes of giant bookstore chains like Borders. Operating for nearly 40 years, this bookstore saw its peak with over 500 US-based stores, and even more via other brands and franchising. By the time 2007 rolled along, however, the company had begun to struggle to remain in business. Several attempts were made to keep it going, but by September of 2011, the chain had come to an end, with its stores closing and rival chain Barnes and Noble buying its trademark.

#5: Fry’s Electronics

The sale of the Fry’s Supermarkets chain eventually spawned a completely new type of electronics store back in 1985. The intent was to make shopping for electronics a similar experience to going for groceries. Whether it was circuit boards, software, or any other kind of electronic device, Fry’s was the place to get it. It was actually one of the few places you could buy raw computer parts off the shelf to assemble your PC on your own. The stores ballooned in popularity, and even the aforementioned Circuit City didn’t offer the same kinds of fare. But after decades of sometimes controversial business practices, and squeezed by the COVID pandemic in 2020 and longstanding market pressures, all their stores ceased operations in February 2021.

#4: Linens ‘n Things

If there is one common thread connecting many of these now-defunct businesses, it’s that for many of them, a combination of acquisitions and management changes seemed to be their undoing. Formed in 1975, this home textile and housewares big box retailer grew considerably by the time it opened its 55th store in 1983. It was acquired and then eventually spun off as its own entity again in 1996, but then re-acquired by Apollo Global Management in 2006. The company then truly began to find itself in financial difficulty. A series of losses combined with the decline of sales, eventually forced the company to pull the plug on their stores by 2008, going online exclusively.

#3: Radio Shack

The humble beginnings for Radio Shack began back in 1921. The company focused its sales strategy on radio and electronics hobbyists. For decades, this gave them a lucrative market to fill, and interest in electronics eventually grew even further with the new computer and videogame age. It was also Radio Shack that produced the famous TRS-80, one of the first widely available home computers. But much like many other retailers, their popularity declined with the rise of online shopping, and fewer hobbyists to buy their wares. By 2017, the company had gone bankrupt and was no longer the giant retailer it once was, with a smattering of stores remaining under different ownership, and eventually the brand being scooped up to attempt viability online.

#2: Toys "R" Us

Who doesn’t remember wanting to be a “Toys R Us Kid”? From toys to video games to books to bikes, this was a chain that had almost everything a child could possibly want. But like many retailers over the last few decades, they struggled to keep up with the times, and competition with the likes of mass-market stores and online shopping. In 2017, the chain filed for bankruptcy and began liquidating their assets. By the middle of 2018, they had closed most of their US stores, with the last two closing in 2021. However, you can still find Toys "R" Us stores across Canada and Asia.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Yet Another Clothing Store Bites The Dust

The Limited
Closed Physical Stores and Moved Online Only

Many Department Stores Haven’t Done Well in this Millennium

The Sharper Image
Now You Have To Buy Your Air Purifiers And Nose Trimmers Online

#1: Blockbuster

One of the biggest industries to emerge from the creation of the VCR was the home movie rental business. At the inception of the movie business decades earlier, no one had ever expected people to want to watch their movies at home, instead of at theaters. With more than 30,000 stores open globally at its commercial peak, if you wanted to rent a new release, odds are you went to a Blockbuster Video. Video rentals became ingrained in our culture, and Blockbuster profited mightily.. But as streaming services and mail-in DVD options became available over the years, the days of “be kind, please rewind” were over, and Blockbuster famously ceased to be.
Bradleys Bamburgers Sterns
Technically there is still a Woolworth's store still standing in Bakersfield CA. However, it has been coverted to a Diner for eating along with a section for antique shopping.