Does anybody remember the mall-store Merry-Go-Round? When I think of it, I still see green spandex, mesh-front shirts and headbands. To me, it was the apogee of 80s fashion, jumping on every ridiculous leg-warming trend and running it directly into the ground. But nobody seems to remember it now. I can't even remember if my local mall had one; I don't remember shopping there, but I do remember how much I associated it with my pubescent days. You don't see stores like that anymore; but what happened to it?
My theory: like so many icons of the 80's, I think Merry-Go-Round was killed by grunge rock. It killed a lot of things: hair-metal, knit ties, Kurt Cobain. And Merry-Go-Round (not to mention pretenders to the throne like Chess King, who, it may interest you to know, was bought out by MGR at some point. I don't know why I feel bad about this, but considering how ingrained 80's nostalgia is in our stupid culture (largely now by people who were not even remotely in existence during the aforementioned decade), you'd think there'd be some kind of monument to it. Surely, if it weren't for Merry-Go-Round, 80's culture as we currently regard it would not exist.
Info on the store is a bit scant, but I did find this bizarre, press-release style company history, that oddly doesn't mention that the company went bankrupt (had to find that elsewhere). But it notes the kind of forward-thinking that should have given it immortal icon status:
When pop star Michael Jackson appeared on MTV wearing a red leather jacket with 27 zippers, Merry-Go-Round sold more than 50,000 similar jackets at $29 each. Similarly, when the lead singer in the rock band Def Leppard performed in a video sporting a Union Jack sweatshirt with cut-off sleeves, a new fad was born. Merry-Go-Round sold over 40,000 copies of the sweatshirt at $15 each.
Merry-Go-Round managed to eke into the 1990's, but by 94 it was pretty much over. I'm not exactly sad about it, but I guess I feel the company doesn't get its due in pop-culture history. I'm also hopeful that I won't be spending any more time in malls so these admittedly dorky notions don't obsess me further. Though I do have some lingering questions about Orange Julius …