America loves its chain restaurants and stores, but they don't always last. As times change, so do the retailers around the country; some are bought out, while others just vanish.Here are some of the chains that have come and gone across the United States....
America loves its chain restaurants and stores, but they don't always last. As times change, so do the retailers around the country; some are bought out, while others just vanish. Here are some of the chains that have come and gone across the United States.
Sharper Image was founded in 1977 in San Francisco and became known for selling electronics, gadgets and futuristic items. However, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and closed all of its retail stores -- although the name was bought at auction and licensed products are sold at other retailers and online today.
Discovery Channel Store
Discovery Channel lent its name to a chain of stores which opened in 1995, selling educational gifts, books, videos, DVDs and other tie-ins to the network programming. However, in 2007, the network elected to close all of its 103 standalone stores and shifted its focus to online retail.
Starbucks announced in July 2017 that it will be closing all 379 Teavana locations, due to struggling sales by the chain which the coffee giant acquired in 2012.
Luxury department store Bonwit Teller was founded in 1895 in Manhattan, and added locations from Boston to California, including one in Manhasset. However, the company fell into financial trouble by 1979 when its flagship store, above, was sold to Donald Trump, who built Trump Tower in its place. The rest of the chain was liquidated by 1990.
Hicksville-based Sleepy's was founded in 1931, and by 2014 had 1,000 stores across the country thanks to expansion and acquisitions. The company was bought out in 2015 by Mattress Firm, and while the company still has an online presence, its retail stores were rebranded over the next two years.
Media Play was a Minnesota-based chain that sold video tapes, DVDs, electronics, CDs and video games, and at one time had 72 stores in 19 states. However, competition from other retailers and online ordering led to the chain's eventual closing in 2006.
Levitz Furniture was founded in 1910 in Pennsylvania and the furniture warehouse store eventually became known for its advertising tagline "You'll Love It at Levitz." However, the company started to suffer financial difficulty, declaring bankruptcy first in 1997 and then in 2005, and eventually closing its nearly 80 stores for good in 2008.
Hecht's Department Stores began in 1857 in Baltimore, and by 2005 had 61 stores around Maryland and in the District of Columbia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, and also operated 20 Strawbridges in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But Macy's bought the chains in 2005, and eventually converted them into Macy's or closed locations.
In 1992, Tandy, the parent company of RadioShack, founded a large-scale electronics store called Incredible Universe that tended to carry about 85,000 items per store. The chain quickly expanded from 2 to 17 locations, but with competition from other big-box retail stores, the concept was shuttered by 1997.
Kids "R" Us
Kids "R" Us was a subsidiary of Toys "R" Us, and was launched in New Jersey and Brooklyn in 1983 to sell children's and teen clothing. However, by 2003, the chain decided to discontinue the chain, closing 146 stores.
Gadzooks was founded in 1983 as a T-shirt retailer in Texas and eventually grew to 422 stores by 2003, focusing on teenage clothing. That same year, the chain decided to discontinue clothes for boys, and two years later the chain was purchased by Forever 21 and eventually all the stores were phased out.
Service Merchandise was a catalog showroom store that was founded in 1934, selling toys, jewelry, electronics and other items. The brand gained recognition due to its sponsorship of such game shows as "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price Is Right," but by 1999 declared bankruptcy and in 2002 eventually closed its 100 stores. The name was sold at auction, and the brand was revived online in 2004.
Sport Chalet was a sporting goods chain that started in 1959 in the western United States and had 47 locations in four states as of 2016. However, the company abruptly announced it was shutting down that year, and all of its stores were subsequently closed.
Kinney Shoes started in 1894 and by 1936 was the largest family chain shoe retailer with 335 stores nationwide. The chain lasted until 1998, when its parent company decided to shutter the chain's 467 stores.
Indiana electronics retailer hhgregg was founded in 1955 and at one point had stores in 20 states, but in 2017 the firm filed for bankruptcy and is closing all of its remaining stores.
Steve & Barry's
Steve & Barry's, which was headquartered in Port Washington, was founded in 1985 and eventually grew to have 276 stores in 39 states, including four on Long Island. However, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008 and eventually closed for good a year later.
Zany Brainy was a chain of educational toy stores founded in 1991, which had 187 locations by 2001. However, the company, which was owned by FAO Schwarz, filed for Chapter 11 that year, and its assets were sold to Right Start.
Grocery store chain A&P was founded in 1859 in New York, and was the largest grocery store chain in the United States from 1915 to 1975. However, competition from other retailers and being leveraged from the acquisition of Pathmark led to the chain's first Chapter 11 filing in 2010, and five years later, it filed for Chapter 11 and closed all of its stores.
Linens 'n Things
Linens 'n Things was a housewares chain that was founded in 1975 and numbered over 500 stores by 2006, but eventually closed its brick-and-mortar stores by December 2008. The company still does business online.
Once of America's iconic five-and-dime stores, Woolworth first opened in Utica, N.Y. in 1878. By the late 1970s, it was the largest department store chain in the world, but its fortunes quickly changed and by 1997, all its stores in the United States were closed. The company eventually transformed into the sporting goods chain Foot Locker.
Tweeter was a high-end electronics chain that began in Boston in 1972, and eventually had more than 100 locations in 18 states. However, the chain began closing most of its locations in 2007, and eventually filed for Chapter 11 in 2008 and closed all of its locations by December of that year.
Thom McAn was a chain of shoe stores that began in New York in 1922, and expanded to over 1,400 stores by the end of the 1960s, making it the largest American shoe retailer at the time. However, the chain had closed by 1996, although the products are still available at Sears and Kmart.
Minnie Pearl Fried Chicken
Comedian Minnie Pearl lent her name to a chain of chicken restaurants in the 1960s to compete with Kentucky Fried Chicken. While initially successful with 40 locations and plans to expand to 300, allegations of accounting irregularities and stock price manipulation brought the chain to a close in 1971.
Horn & Hardart
Horn & Hardart was a chain of automats, meaning food and drinks were served by vending machines, which first started in Philadelphia in 1888. The chain, which had 157 locations in New York and Philadelphia by 1941, closed its final location on 42nd Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan in 1991. The Times Square location is shown in this 1971 photo.
Kaufmann's was a department store that started in Pittsburgh in 1871, and in 1995 had 44 stores in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. But in 2006, Macy's retired the name of the store and the brand disappeared, and in 2015, its flagship store in the Steel City, shown above, was closed for redevelopment.
Howard Johnson's restaurant
In the 1970s, Howard Johnson's restaurants numbered over 1,000 in the United States, serving patrons under the familiar weather vane and orange roof. However, the company was sold to Marriott in 1985, and the hotel chain of the same name still exists. As of 2017, there was just one HoJo's restaurant left in the upstate resort village of Lake George, N.Y. However, the property it is on is for sale, and the fate of the restaurant is unclear.
In 2003, sporting goods retailer Sports Authority had more than 200 stores across 33 states, but competition from online stores and other retailers drove the company into bankruptcy in 2016. The chain closed all its stores, and its online presence was sold to rival Dick's Sporting Goods. This photo is from June 17, 2016 in Denver, Colo.
Herman's World of Sporting Goods
Herman's World of Sporting Goods was a sporting-goods retailer that in 1993 had 259 locations in 40 states, about half of them along the East Coast. However, the company entered bankruptcy that year, closing stores outside the New York metro area first. Eventually all of its stores were shuttered by 1996. This photo from 1996 was taken in the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa.
Electronics retailer Circuit City had 567 stores in 2008, when it declared bankruptcy and eventually began closing locations. What was once the nation's second-largest retailer eventually closed its last brick-and-mortar stores in 2009.
The electronics and music retailer famous for its "Nobody Beats the Wiz!" commercials had 94 locations in New York and around the rest of the Northeast in 1998. However, its market changed with the move to digital for music and electronics, and it was closed for good in 2003.
In many major U.S. cities, one of the largest stores with records, tapes and compact discs as well as music magazines was Tower Records, which expanded to about 90 stores nationwide in the late 1990s. However, the move to digital music spelled the end for the superstore in the United States. It closed in 2006 -- although some locations exist outside the country. This photo is from 2006 in San Francisco.
Ames Department Store
Discount store Ames at one point had more than 700 stores in 20 states, but the chain was eventually forced into bankruptcy twice due to debt and slowing sales. The last 327 stores closed in 2002.
Chi-Chi's was a Mexican restaurant chain that was founded in 1975 and expanded to 210 locations by 1995. However, the chain filed for bankruptcy several times, and eventually was purchased in 2004 by Outback Steakhouse. The remaining 65 U.S. locations were closed. The name does live on in supermarkets as Chi-Chi's Mexican products sold by Hormel Foods Corp., as well as locations overseas.
Steak and Ale
Steak and Ale was founded in 1966, and by the 1980s, the dinner house chain had grown to 280 locations. By 2008, the chain was in bankruptcy and the remaining 58 locations were closed for good. The chain does plan to relaunch its brand in 2017.
Crown Books was was founded in 1977, and by 1993 was the third-largest book-selling chain in the country, with 193 stores, trailing only Barnes & Noble and Borders. However, a family feud among the chain's founders took its toll on the business. The last of the chain's stores closed in 2001. This photo is from 2008 in Greenbrae, Calif.
The bookseller Borders was founded in Michigan in 1971 and had grown to 511 locations by 2010. However, a changing market for books nudged by electronic books cut into the company's bottom line, and the next year the company filed for bankruptcy and closed all of its U.S. stores. This photo is from 2011 in San Francisco.
B. Dalton Bookseller
B. Dalton Bookseller was founded in 1966, and had grown to 798 locations by 1986, when the chain was acquired by Barnes & Noble. The chain dwindled down over time, eventually closing all but two locations in 2010. The last stores -- in Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City and Union Station in Washington, D.C. -- closed in 2012 and 2013.
Filene's Basement started as an off-price store in Boston in 1908, in the basement of Filene's Department store. Eventually it expanded to 20 locations in eight states. However, the economic downturn of 2009 brought the chain's parent company into bankruptcy, and the last brick-and-mortar store closed in 2011. This photo from 2009 was taken in Manhattan.
Kenny Rogers Roasters
Country music star Kenny Rogers started a chicken restaurant chain called Kenny Rogers Roasters in 1991. It grew to 425 locations and had a prominent part in a Seinfeld episode. However, the company went into bankruptcy in 1998, and was purchased by Nathan's Famous, which pared the chain to 40 franchised restaurants in the United States by 2000. The last U.S. store in Ontario, Calif., closed in 2011. The chain still operates overseas, and Nathan's U.S. locations sell some Kenny Rogers Roasters items.
Boston-based City Sports started in 1983, and eventually operated 27 stores in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Vermont and Washington, D.C. However, the sporting goods company went into bankruptcy in 2015, and closed all of its locations.
Department store chain Mervyn's started in California in 1949, and by 2006, had 189 locations in 10 states, mostly in the West. By 2008, the company had declared bankruptcy and closed all locations by the end of that year. This photo is from 2008 in Hayward, Calif.
Warner Bros. Studio Store
Warner Bros. Studio Stores opened in 1991, selling Looney Tunes and other items from the series Bugs Bunny made famous. However, a decade later after the AOL Time Warner merger, the company couldn't find a buyer for the stores and closed down the U.S. locations. It still operates today in China. This photo is from 2001 in San Francisco.
CompUSA started out in Texas in 1984, and was a chain specializing in retail computer hardware and software. But by 2007, the marketplace had been dominated by superstores such as Best Buy, and the 126 stores were marked for closure, leaving 16 locations after a liquidation sale in 2008. These were closed by the end of 2012.
Crazy Eddie was an electronics chain that started in Brooklyn in 1971, and became known for its over-the-top commercials which included variations of the phrase "his prices are insa-a-ane!" The chain grew to 43 locations in four states. However a federal investigation discovered the company routinely understated its income to avoid taxes and committed securities fraud after going public. The late owner, Eddie Antar, and his cousin Sam Antar served prison time. Two subsequent attempts to revive the brand in 1998 and 2009 failed. The photo is from 1998 in Wayne, N.J.
Virgin Megastore, which began in London in 1971, opened its first U.S. location in Los Angeles in 1992, and grew to 23 locations across the country at its peak. However, due to sagging sales of records and compact discs, the last of its six U.S. stores closed in 2009. This photo is from 2009 in Los Angeles.
KB Toys began in Massachusetts in 1922, and at the peak of its reach, had 1,300 locations in all 50 states. However, the chain declared bankruptcy twice, and eventually closed all its stores in 2009, with rival Toys R Us buying the rights to its name. This photo from 2004 was taken in the Chicago suburb of Norridge, Ill.
Once the nation's oldest toy store, FAO Schwarz began in 1862, with its iconic Fifth Avenue location in Manhattan being featured in films like "Big" and "Smurfs." The chain expanded to 40 locations across the United States by 2000, but it fell into bankruptcy and was bought by Toys R Us. By the end of 2015, all of the chain's U.S. locations -- including the flagship store -- were closed. This photo of the flagship store in Manhattan is from 2003.
In 1995, the All-Star Cafe launched in Times Square, and the chain, which had such athlete investors as Tiger Woods, Ken Griffey Jr., Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana and Shaquille O'Neal, began popping up at tourist destinations across the country. However, the concept didn't last, and the last All-Star Cafe shut down in 2007 in Florida. This photo from 1997 is of golf star Tiger Woods at the Myrtle Beach, S.C. location.
The Chicago department store with its iconic clock opened its doors in 1862 and eventually expanded to locations across the country. However, the brand's name changed in 2005 when Federated Department Stores bought the chain and converted most of the stores to the company's more recognizable flagship brand, Macy's, where a customer can still find Field's famous Frango Mints. This photo from 2005 was taken of the original State Street store in Chicago.
Discount department store Caldor started in Connecticut in 1951, and became a successful regional chain. However, in 1995, the chain declared bankruptcy, and four years later, announced it was shuttering all of the 145 Caldors. This photo from 2000 was taken in Melville.