A few weeks ago one of my favorite YouTubers Russ Lyman did a few videos that sparked this idea. It was a series of videos that had to do with the different types of stores he misses. He did three videos on; Department Stores that no longer exist, 90s Video Game Stores, and Video Rental Store Nostalgia. Most of these place were big name stores, but there were some in there that were mom and pop owned or only known to the respected region. I decided to take a trip down memory lane and try to remember as many of the stores I use to frequent within my area.
First I wanted to start with two of the local mom and pop video stores, Village Video and SLZ Video. They were the first places that as a child I would go to and rent movies on VHS, and NES & SNES games to play on the weekend. It wasn’t until much later that both of these stores started renting out DVDs but couldn’t keep up with the prices and deals that Blockbuster and Hollywood Video had. It wasn’t until after these places shutdown that I went ahead and got myself both a Blockbuster and a Hollywood Video rental card. I will admit, I kind of miss both of those chains, but I didn’t start renting from them until a year or two before they shutdown due to streaming services taking over.
When it came to buying video games there were places like Funcoland, Toys R Us, and KB Toys. However there were a few other places in my area where you could buy games while parents went and shopped around, Woolworths, Montgomery Wards, and the most recent store to bite the dust which was KMart. Woolworths was at Southland Mall while Montgomery Wards was at Bayfair Mall, both relatively close to home, but we favored Woolworths because if I couldn’t find a game, they had toys and movies that you could purchase. At KMart I would go about doing the same thing, but my family could also look at clothes, grocery shop, or buy things for the house. Later in life there was a video game shop in the next city over known as Game Alley. It was around for a good amount of time, but then it shutdown. I looked into it and couldn’t find much as to why. The website is gone and all articles about just say the same thing about how it was closing down and selling all of its inventory before shutting its doors. It was sad because it was the only shop I knew about where you could rent games, buy new and vintage games, and get you gaming system repaired. Around this time Hollywood Video incorporated to some of its stores a GameStop like store called Game Crazy. It worked the same as Hollywood Video when it came to renting games, but in this case you could also buy games and snacks, and if you just wanted to watch a movie you could go next door.
As for department stores that catered to kids there were only two places in the area, KB Toys and Toys R Us. Unfortunately KB Toys shut down years before Toys R Us did, which I never understood as to why, both stores were huge and had many people going to them to make purchases. They weren’t just toys and video games, as far as I remember they also sold movies (VHS & DVD), and to my knowledge they also had contests you could enter to win prizes and gift certificates. I also remember how the monthly paper that was sent to the house had coupons you could use on specific items, that’s how I got most of my toys and games.
All in all these were the places I would frequent when buying or renting.