Ghost Malls, Dead Malls, and Defunct Department Stores

9 Mar

Winter seems like an appropriate time to discuss a depressing subject:  dead malls.  It’s one of the slowest shopping seasons of the year anyway; and the subject explores what happens when shopping slows to a standstill.  And virtually visiting these defunct stores costs a lot less than visiting a real one.

Ghost Malls in China

According to a recent 60 Minutes story, China overbuilt and has entire “ghost” towns: towns that are recently and nearly completely built, but where no one lives.

In fact, CNN International reports that the largest mall in the world, the Mall of China–the size of two Malls of America–is only 20 percent occupied.  The story shows pictures of empty storefronts and dusting and decaying hardware.

Dead Malls in America

But readers don’t need to look that far to find ghost malls.  For years, a small group of mall lovers have kept a log of Dead Malls in America.  Long before blogging, the masters launched this website and have kept  a meticulous history of every dead and dying malls in the  US.

Listed by state, the site provides a complete list of malls.  For each mall, the site provides photos and a bit of history: when the mall opened, descriptions of the mall in its heydey, and what ultimately caused its decline.

Defunct Department Stores Around the World

Wondering what specifically happened to all of those old anchor stores in malls whose names no longer exist, like Bamburger’s, Davison’s, Dayton’s, Filene’s, Hecht Company, and Hutzler’s?  Then check out the Online Department Store Museum.

Like Dead Malls, the Online Department Store Museum lists department stores by state.  But unlike Dead Malls, the Online Department Store Museum also lists cities as well as includes Canadian department stores.

The extent of history on each store varies.  The Online Department Store Museum provides lots of pictures of each store, but the extent of history varies widely and can be sparse.

The Wikipedia actually has more detail.  It has lists of all department stores in the world, including ones that currently operate and ones that are out of business (which the Wikipedia calls defunct).  The Wikipedia also has lists of defunct retailers in Canada. Although the Wikipedia does not have entries for every store listed, it has entries for many.


  • Read about the ghost Mall of China, click here.
  • Visit Dead Malls, click here.
  • Visit the Online Department  Store Museum, click here.
  • See the Wikipedia list of all department stores in the world–both current and defunct–click here.
  • Visit the Wikipedia entry on Defunct retail companies of Canada, click here.

(In honor of spring, my next news-oriented blog entry will be more upbeat.)


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