16 Things No Trip To The Mall In The ‘90s Was Complete Without

I don’t actually know what going to the mall is like these days (do people still even shop at malls?), but during the era in which I grew up? I am intimately familiar with all the things no trip to the mall in the ‘90s was complete without. It’s not even that I spent that much time at the mall during that particular decade; it’s just that going there was An Event, and as a result, my memories of it remain crystal clear even to this day. Funny which details our brains like to hold onto, right?

Sometimes I think it’s kind of weird that going to the mall was such a big deal in the ‘90s — but then again, it actually makes a certain amount of sense. The economic boom that occurred at the time meant people had a lot more money to spend, so of course we’d flock to places where we could spend a lot of it all at once. It also sort of hearkens back to the market culture that’s so prevalent in Europe, even today — shopping isn’t just an errand; it’s also a social event. Malls recaptured that aspect of the shopping experience while also morphing it into something else — something very, very American.

These 16 things? They all occurred during mall visits virtually every time. And if they didn’t… they’d probably happen the next time to make up for it. Because what’s a trip to the mall without a little Gap Dream?

1. Traveling Around In Packs With Your Friends


Going to the mall with your parents was boring; traveling around in a pack of your friends was much more interesting. Some David Attenborough narration detailing the pack behavior of ‘90s pre-teens and teens booming above you from some unidentified source would not have been out of place — particularly when you encoutered another pack in the wild.

2. Spraying All The Testers At The Gap On Yourself

Why smell like plain ol’ Dream when you could smell like Dreamheavenearthom?

3. Spraying All The Testers From Victoria’s Secret On Yourself

Ideally you would either go this route or the Gap route, rather than both… but sometimes, you kind of just needed to try everything, so you walked out of the mall smelling not only like Dreamheavenearthom, but also like Lovespellstrawberriesandchampagnepearglace. No wonder your mom always rolled down the windows on the car ride home, no matter what the weather was like outside.

4. Sbarro’s Pizza


Because obviously you needed to fuel your fragrance-spraying shenanigans with something.

5. Getting A Sugar Rush From The Sweet Factory


When the Sweet Factory opened up at my local mall in the mid-‘90s, it came complete with a Rube Goldberg machine that shuttled candy all the way around the store. It was arguably more fun than actually eating the candy — and given how much I loved all those amusingly-shaped gummy candies they had there, that’s really saying something.

6. Trying To Get Your Hands On An Abercrombie & Fitch Bag

Which you would then hide somewhere deep in your closet so your mom never found it.

7. A Moody Visit To Hot Topic


Because you were SO ANGSTY, and the only solution… was more Hot Topic, probably followed by a viewing of The Craft.

8. A Shopping Spree At Limited Too

Even if “shopping spree” usually meant “acquire as many sparkly nail polishes and butterfly hair clips as your allowance can buy.”

9. Picking Up Some Neon Hair Mascara At Claire’s Accessories

Or some stick-on earrings. Or some actual earrings, if your parents let you get your ears pierced.

10. Pretending You Were Too Cool To Go Into KB Toys (But Secretly Wanting To Anyway)


Toy stores never stop being fun. Heck, I’m 31, and I still love going to toy stores.

11. Trying And Failing To Win A Stuffed Animal From The Crane Game At The Arcade


Is anyone else still kind of baffled about the fact that these days, crane games have you trying to win iPods and Playstation Vitas? Talk about raising the stakes.

12. Building A Bear At Build-A-Bear Workshop

Or just wishing you could go build a bear at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Odds are you didn’t build a bear every single time you went to the mall, because seriously, who needs that many bears?

13. Going To Sam Goody Just So You Could Listen To The Latest Backstreet Boys CD


Or whatever your ‘90s band of choice was: TLC, NSYNC, Hanson, the Spice Girls — take your pick. You usually only listened to the demos at those little listening stations, though; typically you failed to budget your allowance well enough to buy it.

14. Feeling Super Grown-Up At Sephora


Your folks may not have let you wear super badass Urban Decay lipstick at home, but they couldn’t stop you from trying it on at the mall. Also, raise your hand if you kind of love the fact that the new Vice lipstick packaging looks exactly like UD used to look back in the ‘90s.

15. Two Words: Orange. Julius.

Heck yes.

16. Wishing Your Folks Would Finally Let You Get Some Glamour Shots Taken

I mean, you could still do this now, if you wanted — Glamour Shots are definitely still in business — so if you’ve felt deprived all these years, seize the soft focus, my friends.

Images: Pixabay; Giphy (8)