Amazon changed the retail world forever when it was founded in 1994 promising quick shipping on a variety of products, but 50 years earlier, Minnesota came up with something so different, it changed everything.

Minnesota has always been a great incubator of great ideas and home to some of the largest companies in the world, but one invention by a Minnesota retailer, not only changed retail forever, but it also changed and shaped communities and influenced pop culture.

How We Shopped Before This Invention

In the early days of American retail, customers would go to individual stores, in different buildings, generally in a downtown area, to shop for a variety of products and services, but all that changed in 1956 in a suburb of Minneapolis.

READ MORE: Is It a Castle? Is It a Water Tower? Minnesota’s Puzzling Landmark

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The Beginning of A New American Icon

Dayton's was a department store chain that was founded in Minnesota in 1902 and operated for nearly 100 years with stores located around the Midwest, in 1952 Dayton's announced plans for something completely different around its store in Edina, Minnesota.

PBS - YouTube
PBS - YouTube

The Shopping Mall is Born

Plans for the first fully enclosed, climate-controlled shopping mall in the United States were drawn up by Victor Gruen, who came up with the idea of the shopping mall in 1943. The idea of the shopping mall was shot down by several large retailers across the country for many years, until Minnesota and its frigid winters embraced the idea.

PBS - YouTube
PBS - YouTube

The First Shopping Mall Was a Big Gamble

Southdale, America's first shopping mall, opened its doors to the public on October 8, 1956, the mall was originally anchored by 4 large retailers of the time, Dayton's, Donaldson's, Walgreens, and Woolworth. The 800,000 square-foot mall was estimated to cost $10 million, in the end, the cost doubled to $20 million, a large amount for those days, but in 2024 money that would be a staggering $229 million.

By all accounts, and if we use history as a judge, the shopping mall was a smashing success, over the next 30+ years well over 1,000 malls were built in America, and despite predictions of their demise, shopping malls in America continue to chug along with no end in site, just reinvention.

LOOK: 50 Famous brands that no longer exist

Stacker compiled a list of more than four dozen famous consumer brands that no longer exist, consulting sites such as TheStreet, Good Housekeeping, and Eat This, Not That!, along with numerous throwback sites dedicated to consumer brands.

Gallery Credit: Liz Barrett Foster

50 Most Popular Chain Restaurants in America

YouGov investigated the most popular dining brands in the country, and Stacker compiled the list to give readers context on the findings. Read on to look through America's vast and divergent variety of restaurants—maybe you'll even find a favorite or two.

Gallery Credit: Paul Feinstein