Hello 80s! A Shopping Mall Turns Back Time for Stranger Things 3

Creating the 80's Starcourt Mall for Stranger Things 3

Stranger Things, a Netflix original series that first aired in 2016, has captured the attention of critics with 12 Emmy noms this year, including Outstanding Drama Series. But long before its critical acclaim, online streaming, binge-viewing, pop culture enthusiasts loved its supernatural take on “Stand By Me.” In addition to knowing how to produce a captivating show, the folks at Netflix have done a great job with the Social Media and marketing for the series.

We previously shared with you the Netflix 80’s-Style Stranger Things Fashion Collection, the fun faux posters that mock the horror film genre here and the Peanuts mashup A Stranger Things Christmas. Those are just a few examples of the clever marketing and many product offshoots. Now, as fans get ready for Season 3, Netflix and Stranger Things have outdone themselves with a complete transformation back in time.

Creating the 80’s Starcourt Mall for Stranger Things 3

Creating the 80's Starcourt Mall for Stranger Things 3

stranger thinks hawking starcourt mall

The colorful and retro Starcourt Mall, located in the fictional city of Hawkins, Indiana was created in Duluth, GA for the hit Netflix show Stranger Things. The crew brought their vision of the 1980s to life by transforming a wing and food court of an old, and largely vacant, two-story mall.

Netflix Stranger Things season 3

The TV series Stranger Things, which originally debuted on Netflix in July 2016, set its first season in November 1983 in the small Indiana town of Hawkins. The second season was set in October 1984, with season three to be set in July 1985, against the backdrop of the release of Back to the Future.

Since Season 3 of Stranger Things is set smack in the mid-80s with a main cast of characters in their teens, what better place to have as a backdrop than a typically 80’s shopping mall? Only, where to find one? Apparently, about 30 minutes north of Atlanta.

This hilarious teaser ad for the third season of Netflix’s Stranger Things was our first peek at the nostalgically transformed mall. Bringing back memories of other eighties movies such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High:

Located in Duluth, GA is Gwinnett Place Mall; a large, dying two level mall with predominantly vacant storefronts. The “dead” mall has been used before as a set for television and movies.

making the starcourt mall for stranger things

Last year’s award winning movie I, Tonya filmed at least one scene at the same mall early last year. The Stranger Things production crew saw the vacant Gwinnett Place Mall as the perfect opportunity to bring their vision of an 1980’s mall to life here. Within two months, they took both levels of a large wing of the mall, including the completely vacant food court, and turned it into a fully recreated 1980’s style mall.

stranger things promotions
Faux Government press release, part of the fun PR for the series

hawkins Starcourt Mall

So, how did they do it?

making the Starcourt Mall for Stranger Things

making the Starcourt Mall for Stranger Things

Beginning in March of 2018, set designers spent weeks painstakingly recreating the 1985 destination, complete with retailers of the era, such as Radio Shack, Spencer’s, Chess King, the gap, Waldenbooks, Claire’s, JCPenney, JCPenney Home Store, Zales, Sam Goody and Wicks “N” Sticks, among others.

making the Starcourt Mall for Stranger Things

Stranger Things Starcourt Mall

Stranger Things Starcourt Mall

starcourt mall stranger things

Most of the stores were furnished with actual merchandise in them with the Time-Out Arcade full of seemingly real 80s games.

sam goody records

80s mall shops

Stranger Things Starcourt Mall The gap

The mall also features a Food Court with restaurants Wyatt’s Cafeteria, Burger King, Orange Julius, the fictional Hawkins Heroes, The Ground Round and a “coming soon” Taco Bell as well as a Time-Out arcade and jazzercise studio.

Stranger Things Starcourt Mall food court

Stranger Things Starcourt Mall

Stranger Things Starcourt Mall

The flooring on the second floor was replaced with red carpet, and retro wood planters and benches were added as well, to create a true 1980s mall experience.

Stranger Things Starcourt Mall

Even the Cinema is showing popular movies (or slight variations thereof) from the era with framed movie posters for such 80s hits as Weird Science.

Stranger Things Starcourt Mall

hawkins mall

Stranger Things Starcourt Mall

And they even created a faux Starcourt mall Directory:
Starcourt mall Directory

hawkins starcourt mall

You can find several more images (and some videos) of the Mall before, during and after its transformation at Retail World  and at ToneToAtl

Thanks to Retail World and ToneToAtl for the information and construction images

Shop all the fun Stranger Things and Starcourt Mall items on Amazon here