Cool Kevin’s Single Earrings
In the ‘80s there was nothing cooler and more dangerous than a guy who wore a single earring. (For example: George Michael, and Mallory’s boyfriend on Family Ties.) A lot of those guys bought their single earing at Cool Kevin’s Single Earrings, a jewelry shop for dudes who didn’t want to waste money at Claire’s (which owned Cool Kevin’s) by buying two earrings.
This fast food place offered similar drinks as its contemporary and competitor, Orange Julius, but made with less sugar. For example, its signature beverage, the Orange Julian, was a small glass of orange juice with a single ice cube floating in it.
Rat Tails and Elephant Ears
Kids loved this place that was half beauty salon that only did Rat Tails, and half snack bar that sold elephant ears.
Holy Shit, That’s So Fucking Stupid, Why Would You Spend Money on That?
They sold tchotchkes like “FBI: Federal Boob Inspector” hats, keychains that made fart sounds, dealy-bopper headbands, and other fun novelties. They were eventually bought out and converted into Gadzooks locations, and then bought out again and converted into Spencer’s Gifts outlets.
Formerly a hobby shop chain called American Hobby that sold all kinds of scale models and craft supplies, it scaled back and got rid of all that stuff to focus on selling the thing its customers really wanted: airplane glue.
Having the misfortune of opening 150 stores nationwide the same week that John Hinckley, Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan, this ill-fated, quickly-shuttered chain offered the unique service of taking glamorous photos of customers posed next to cardboard cutouts of President Ronald Reagan.
Steve Perry’s Tank Top Junction
After a potential sponsorship deal with Chess King fell through, the Journey lead singer licensed out his name to a store that sold only tank tops and, later, mirrors with the names of bands on them like what you’d win playing carnival games.
The Velcro Store
They sold raw Velcro in bulk.
Pants Pants Pants
This store founded by billionaire Dutch triplets Jacob, Martin, and Robert Pants didn’t last long—it just couldn’t compete in the crowded recorded music marketplace with Tower Records, Camelot Music, and Sam Goody.
Just Cocaine (And Crack)
Police figured that the name of the store was a joke, and that “teen stuff” was being sold, until one day in 1988 when a policeman in Kansas City entered a Just Cocaine (And Crack) branch to buy a Debbie Gibson-style hat for his 15-year-old daughter and discovered that the store really was selling just cocaine (and crack). By 1990, the chain was out of business.
Debbie Gibson-Style Hats
They sold hats like the kind Debbie Gibson would wear.
Pat Nixon’s Kissing Booth
President Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974 and was persona non grata in both the public and private sectors; by 1980 he was bankrupt. That’s when former First Lady Pat Nixon opened her own business. The 1958 California Makeout Champion used her expertise to create this mall-based chain of kissing booths, staffed entirely by women and men who resembled Pat Nixon. The real Pat Nixon dutifully worked a shift at all 52 locations, popping into a different one each and every Friday.
Mrs. Cookies’ Fields
No trip to the mall was complete without a stop at Mrs. Fields’ for a warm, delicious cookie, and then over to Mrs. Cookies to pick up a green, spacious field
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Brian Boone is a contributor to Funny or Die, Someecards, Splitsider, The Chive, and Looper, and his work has appeared on McSweeney’s, StarWipe, and many other fine humor and pop culture destinations. He’s the author of several delightful books, wrote a musical about pirates, and came in third on Jeopardy! once. He will clog your Twitter timeline with dad jokes.