The List: Stores to visit and signature items to buy one last time at Polaris

Since Polaris Fashion Place owner Washington Prime Group filed for bankruptcy, we recommend some shops and goods for a final visit, just in case

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
Lava lamps glow inside Spencer Gifts

When I was a tween, the mall was the place to be. After convincing someone’s parent to drop us off, my friends and I would wander the tiled walkways, goofing around and popping into stores and rarely buying anything other than a drink at the food court.  

These days, my own middle school kids don’t care about the mall, and I don’t think many other kids do, either. That probably wouldn’t be a huge problem for malls, except that a lot of adults seem to be following the same path. Online buying is up, brick-and-mortar spending is down. The store of the future is not a store, and the pandemic only made things worse for malls.

Over the weekend, Washington Prime Group, owner of Polaris Fashion Place and several other Ohio malls, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Of course, any time a company declares bankruptcy, the primary message from said company is centered around how the restructuring will actually help the business and put it in a better position moving forward. By the end of a Chapter 11-related press release, it begins to sound like bankruptcy is the best thing to ever happen to a company. Why aren’t we all doing this? Let’s go bankrupt! We’ll live like kings! 

Perhaps Polaris will emerge stronger from all of this, like a phoenix rising from the burning, aromatic rubble of an Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop. But just in case this fashionable place is on its way out, here are some quintessential mall stores to visit at Polaris, along with what we think is the item that best encapsulates each. Note: This list of stores is taken from the Polaris website, which may or may not be updated frequently, so call ahead before asking your parents to drop you off there.


Back in my day (*leans back in rocking chair, puffs on pipe*), this store was known as Pacific Sunwear. PacSun sounds more like a software company, but I bet it still carries chunky hemp necklaces. 

Hot Topic 

A T-shirt with the cover art for My Chemical Romance album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (still holds up!) 


A complimentary box of those brown pantyhose footies


That really expensive kitchen mixer owned by every suburbanite in the last 25 years 

J. Jill 

A blouse (i.e. a fancy shirt) 


Slacks (i.e. fancy pants) 


An affordable, nice-fitting button-down that will fall apart after two washings 

Forever 21

An affordable, nice-fitting dress that will fall apart after two regrettable evenings out


No need to buy anything. Just walk in one last time for the particular smell — like a dentist’s office and doctor’s office had a very clean, bespectacled baby. 

Yankee Candle Company 

No need to buy anything here, either. Walk in one last time, sniff, sneeze, leave. 


I don’t actually know what this store is but it sounds disgusting. 

Cell Chargers 

A cell charger 


A cell charger


A pink polo shirt, vintage distressed and pre-scented with Axe Body Spray 

Things Remembered 

I forget what this store carries  


The only Oakleys I ever owned I haggled for $5 on a New York City street from a guy who had a black trash bag full of them. I doubt you can haggle here. Maybe worth a try though? If not you can always head to the Sunglass Hut, which carries an entire hut full of sunglasses. 


$900 yoga pants 


Cologne/perfume samples 

Spencer Gifts 

Lava lamp or an uncouth poster you will probably have to hide from your mom