LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) - The mall experience in America, especially here in Lafayette, Louisiana, just isn't what it used to be. Sure, it's still a busy place, and no matter when you go, you'll still see some solid foot traffic there.

But the times have really changed when it comes to American mall culture as shopping habits have changed and pandemics crushed retail revenues.

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During the 20th century, malls emerged as vibrant social hubs and retail destinations, offering a wide array of stores, entertainment options, and dining experiences all under one roof. They became symbols of suburban prosperity and convenience, drawing in crowds of shoppers seeking leisurely outings and the latest trends.

However, the advent of e-commerce and online shopping in the late 20th and early 21st centuries challenged the traditional mall model. Consumers increasingly turned to the internet for convenience, variety, and competitive pricing, leading to a decline in foot traffic and sales at brick-and-mortar stores.

As younger generations prioritize urban living and experiences over traditional retail, many malls have struggled to adapt to evolving consumer preferences.

The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the decline of mall culture, as lockdowns, social distancing measures, and health concerns kept shoppers away from enclosed spaces.

Despite these challenges, some malls have sought to reinvent themselves by integrating mixed-use spaces, entertainment venues, and experiential offerings to attract visitors. However, the future of American mall culture remains uncertain as it continues to navigate the evolving retail landscape and consumer preferences.

The Acadiana Mall

Our local mall, the Acadiana Mall, first opened on March 28, 1979. Throughout the Mall's 43-year history, there have been some fantastic stores that have come and gone, as well as many that are now open - including Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Macy's, and Visionworks.

 

We asked on social media what stores folks remembered the most, what their favorite stores were, and more, and there was such a flood of memories that it was tough to keep up with them all.

Do you remember the sign for Wicks 'N' Sticks, which featured hand-carved wooden candles and candle holders from all over the world?

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Youtube via discohelicoptre

How about the woman shopping at Merle Norman? Remember "try before you buy," the new sales approach that let customers try on products for free before buying them? That practice was revolutionary at the time, but still exists today.

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Youtube via discohelicoptre

Another store that was mentioned by our audience was Sears. The store closed in 2017 and is being renovated and turned into a climate-controlled self-storage facility.

Fortunately, for those who still love Sears, their outlet store in Lafayette still offers great appliances.

Sears Cuts Workers
(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
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Musicland/Sam Goody was another store mentioned as well. Until music could be heard on our cell phones, record stores were such a part of our lives and this was a premiere record store in Lafayette's premiere shopping center. As you can see in the photo of Jessica Simpson from 2004, Sam Goody in its heyday was a giant in the music industry.

Jessica Simpson Launches Dessert Beauty Body Care Collection
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
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Here are some of the other stores listeners pointed out:

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So many amazing stores made their mark in the Acadiana Mall. And while some stores are no longer with us, we will always have the memories of them that will forever live on with us.

Remember These Awesome Stores No Longer in the Acadiana Mall in Lafayette, Louisiana?

So many amazing stores made their mark in the Acadiana Mall. And, while some stores are no longer with us, we will always have the memories of them that will forever live on with us. Here are many of those stores!

Gallery Credit: Joe Cunningham