'Stranger Things' Transformed This Abandoned Mall Into An '80s Mecca For Season 3

by Rebecca Patton
Originally Published: 

"Starcourt Mall has it all!" Or at least, so a piece of propaganda would have Hawkins residents believe. And on the exterior, it looks to be an exciting addition to Stranger Things 3. This mall has everything: A Claire's, a Radio Shack (RIP, Bob Newby), a Jazzercise studio, and a state-of-the-art food court that boasts a Burger King, Orange Julius, and Hotdog on a Stick. Honestly, what more could you want? But of course, like most things in Hawkins, there's more to this brand-spankin'-new mall than meets the eye, which is why it's probably a good thing that Starcourt Mall isn't a real place.

Although Hawkins, Indiana, is a fictional town, Netflix chose a real shopping center to film their scenes in Starcourt Mall. According to a local Atlanta blog, Tomorrow's News Today, Stranger Things used Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, Georgia, as the filming location for Starcourt. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gwinnett Place opened its doors in February 1984 — just one year before Stranger Things 3 takes place in July '85. And it's no surprise that the third season of this Netflix darling chose to focus around a shopping center, since mall culture was at its zenith in the mid-eighties. Just think of Robin's iconic "Let's Go to the Mall" video from How I Met Your Mother.

And just like the Starcourt Mall proves to be an exciting addition to the Hawkins community, former Gwinnett Place general manager, Bill Gullion, told the AJC that when they first opened the mall's doors, there wasn't enough parking to contain the 6,000 people waiting to shop there. "My God, it was gangbusters when we opened it up," Gullion told the outlet. However, things have since changed, and Gwinnett Place is now something of a ghost town, as are so many malls around the country. In fact, in December 2017, a dead body was discovered in the mall's unused food court, which may have been there for as long as two weeks, per the AJC. Furthermore, according to a report from Bisnow, the mall may be sold and converted into a cricket stadium.

As for its role in Stranger Things 3, however, the location went through an extensive renovation to match its former glory days. The shops include '80s classics like The Gap (complete with its old, lower-case logo), J.C. Penney, Waldenbooks, Sam Goody, and more. Tomorrow's News Today reported that wooden benches and planters were brought in, and red carpet was added to the second level to give the mall a more retro feel. And Gwinnett Place certainly looks the part, with Hawkins residents excitedly milling about in the below Starcourt commercial.

What's more, it looks like Steve will be working at the mall's Scoops Ahoy alongside new Stranger Things character Robin (Maya Hawke). However, as always, there's something else going on at Starcourt behind-the-scenes. It may have something to do with Hawkins' sleazy new politician, Mayor Kline (played by The Princess Bride actor Cary Elwes, naturally), but time will tell. Furthermore, if fans will recall Netflix's Stranger Things release date announcement on NYE 2018, the streaming service released footage of the 1985 Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin' Eve, which was sponsored by the Starcourt Mall.

So what does all of this have to do with the Upside Down, the Mind Flayer, demogorgons, Mayor Kline, or Billy, who looks like he has a dark path this season? Fortunately, fans only have to wait until July 4 to find out how Starcourt Mall is connected to everything else in Stranger Things 3 — because it almost certainly is.

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