Once upon a time, the mall was the place to be. Before online shopping, before apps, when we wanted to shop all of our favorite labels in one place, we had the mall. And it was glorious.

The recent woes of classic mall brands are a secret to no one. In the past few months alone, we’ve seen the shuttering of The Limited, Wet Seal, and BCBG stores, not to mention the seemingly endless stream of closings and layoffs among once-major players like Abercrombie, Macy’s, and Sears. Whether technology, changing consumer shopping habits, or an inability to compete on the trend front caused their demise, we may never know for certain. Surely, a variety of factors have played into what appears to be the arrival of the mall-pocalypse. Rather than play the blame game here, we would just like to take a moment to pay our respects and pour one out for the fallen retailers of our youth. This one’s for our homies.

To Wet Seal: We thank you for giving us a haven to get cool clothes on the cheap before H&M was even a twinkle in our eyes. Thank you for outfitting us as we navigated our way through our tween to teen years, when the Delia’s catalog was required reading and Nick Lachey was #husbandgoals. Your store was where we learned to express ourselves through fashion, where we experimented with style by decking ourselves out in cutoff denim mini skirts and butterfly clips before heading off to the food court. You served us well, friend. (Photo via Justin Sullivan/Getty)

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 19: BCBGMAXAZRIA store holiday display on December 19, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/FilmMagic)

To BCBG: You never let us down when it came to getting dressed up. We’ve all run to your racks at one time or another, be it for sweet sixteen, prom (cough), or a family wedding (double cough). Just fancy enough, but with an attainable price tag, you had our backs for every special occasion. Like an old best friend with a great closet, we could always count on you in a nothing-to-wear-jam. We’ll catch you online, but it won’t be the same. (Photo via Rob Kim/FilmMagic)


To The Limited: You were the place we turned to when we needed outfits for our first interviews, for meeting our boyfriends’ parents or for really any occasion where we needed to look grown up before we actually were. You gave us somewhere to shop for clothes and accessories within our budget that didn’t look like throwaway items. We felt (and looked) responsible, professional, and ready to take on the world. Thanks for the blazers and the sheath dresses. We owe you one. (Photo via The Limited)

We can’t know exactly what the future holds for the rest of our favorite mall brands. All we know for sure is that while the tectonic plates of retail continue to shift, we will always hold a special place in our hearts for the stores that first got us excited enough to go out and shop. They gave us a place to meet up with friends, to experiment with independence (until our parents came to pick us up), and try on different versions of who we wanted to be. So thanks for the memories, guys. See you at the big food court in the sky.

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