Some of the most popular chains that no longer exist in America

In the past few years, many of America’s beloved major retailers announced that they’d be closing their stores—Papyrus, Macy’s, Pier 1 Imports, JCPenney—the list goes on. It’s a pattern we’ve seen in retail history, time and time again. It starts with chains downsizing, attempting to manage their debt and restructuring. Some are able to recover. Many, however, end up filing for bankruptcy and/or getting bought out, and eventually folding.

LOOK: Here are some of your favorite retail chains that no longer exist

Are you ready to see the top major retailers that no longer exist? Keep reading to see if your favorites made the list.


– Category: department store
– Year founded: 1958
– Year defunct: 2002
– Lifetime: 44 years

Anchor Blue

– Category: clothing
– Year founded: 1972
– Year defunct: 2011
– Lifetime: 39 years

Anchor Blue, a teen clothing chain that launched in 1972, filed for bankruptcy in 2011 after 39 years of being in business. At the time it closed, there were 117 stores, the majority of which were in California. However, at its height, the chain had more than 300 stores in the United States. Sadly, the retailer could not survive the economic downturn in 2009 and by 2011 decided to fold.

– Category: video rental
– Year founded: 1985
– Year defunct: 2014
– Lifetime: 29 years

Founded in 1985, Blockbuster was once the entertainment giant of the world, with more than 65 million registered customers and more than 9,000 stores in the United States alone. At its peak, it was valued at $3 billion. But the rise of streaming services like Netflix began to eat away at its profits, and Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy with more than $900 million in debt.


– Category: bookstore
– Year founded: 1978
– Year defunct: 2011
– Lifetime: 33 years

Back in 2011, Borders—a books and music megastore—had to close its 400 stores around the country when the company was liquidated. Unfortunately, much of Borders’ stock was CDs and DVDs, at the critical tipping point when everyone was starting to go digital. Borders also failed to develop an online store, while other retailers like Barnes & Noble moved into the online space. The last year Borders actually made a profit was 2006. By 2011 it filed for bankruptcy.

Builders Square
– Category: home improvement
– Year founded: 1970
– Year defunct: 1999
– Lifetime: 29 years

When Home Depot and Menards came into the picture, the sun was setting on Builders Square, one of the original large scale home improvement stores. In 2011, they filed for Chapter 11 and liquidated their remaining 117 stores. Builders Square had been struggling for a few years prior and was sold off by Kmart in 1997. Still, the company failed to turn a profit and eventually shut its doors.

Before there was Walmart (four years before, to be exact), there was Ames. The discount retailer used to specialize in everything from apparel and electronics to housewares, patio furniture, jewelry and beyond. After 44 years of business, the corporation filed for bankruptcy, closing 327 stores and leaving 21,500 employees without jobs.

It’s a cycle we’re familiar with. The economy improves and the market becomes saturated with choice. When the economy slows, dips, and dives, very few are able to survive. With each cycle, stores that we thought would always be around, stores that defined our childhoods, even our parents’ childhoods, fizzle, fade, and become stuff of retail history. Some of these brands are iconic, like Tower Records, Thom McAn and Kids “R” Us.

Through a variety of sources, we took a close look at the various major retail chains that no longer exist. For many of these chains, they were leading the pack at one point in history. Many of these stores even paved the way for their competitors, who eventually overtook them. Blockbuster, for example, until Amazon started selling similar products online.

While it’s all part of evolution and Darwinian economics, the sad reality is that when these stores die, part of our memories go with them. Still, it’s a lesson that most businesses have to learn: Adapt with the times or be lost forever.

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