The Starcourt Mall


Starcourt Mall has it all, Shop in style at the Starcourt! 
Welcome to Starcourt Mall located in wonderful Hawkins, Indiana!


This page can be accessed from StarcourtMall.com or ShopStarcourt.com

Hello and welcome to the website dedicated to featuring pictures and information on the fictional mall Starcourt located in the fictional city of Hawkins, Indiana. This mall was created as a set for the hit Netflix show Stranger Things. It is actually located within a section of a real mall called Gwinnett Place Mall located in Duluth, GA, about 30 minutes north of Atlanta. Gwinnett Place Mall is a large, dying two level mall with the majority of the store fronts vacant. Because of this the production crew for Stranger Things obviously saw an opportunity to bring their vision of an 1980's mall to life here. 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. 

What the wing looked like before work started
Before Starcourt transformation
Before Starcourt Transformation

Let's go more in depth at what this very interesting show set entails. But first a little more history and information on the actual mall it is located in. Gwinnett Place Mall has been struggling for years and has faced more and more vacant store fronts. The food court has been completely vacant of eateries for nearly a year. Also in January 2018 a dead body was found in one of the vacant food stalls in the food court, it sat unnoticed for nearly two weeks. The circumstances worked out perfect for the production company to come in and take over the wing of the mall for conversion. This particular wing of the mall was completely vacant of stores including the as mentioned food court. The only store still open is the two level anchor store Beauty Master (formerly a JCPenney) located at the end of the mall wing. Because of this, it made it easy for the production company to close the wing off and do the conversion work. 

Entrance to the mall wing before work began

So now we go into the conversion of this vacant, present day two level mall wing into a bustling 1980's mall. Around March 2018, the set designers for Stranger Things came in and began the daunting task of completely transforming this large wing of the mall into a recreated and functional 1980's looking mall. By the second week of May 2018, the transformation was complete and filming began on the show. A very large amount of money was spent by the production company to transform everything in this mall wing. They did construction to reconfigure and recreate existing store fronts into completely different store fronts to fit the 80's mall look. The mall common areas were repainted, retiled, and carpeted in 80's colors and styles. Neon lighting was added in different places as were wooden planters, mall directories, and benches. Payphones and kiddie rides were also added to complete the look. The food court had new seating added and all of the food stalls were recreated. The Beauty Master store fronts were changed. The first level store front was changed into a JC Penney entrance and the second level entrance was completely transformed into a movie theater entrance. One of the exterior entrances to Gwinnett Place was turned into the Starcourt Mall entrance. Strangely, this entrance is not the one that goes into the Starcourt Mall wing. They added the Starcourt Mall sign, neon lighting, wood panels, a retro 80's display window, mall hours on the entrance doors for Starcourt, and a bus stop for Hawkins Public Transit. 

Early May while work was going on
Early May while work was going on

Each storefront was completely remodeled from its present day look and painstakingly transformed into a 1980's looking storefront. Each store was filled with merchandise that was authentic to the era to complete the look. There are many recognizable 1980's chain store names featured and a few stores names created just for the show set. You can find stores like Radio Shack, Wicks N Sticks, Waldenbooks, Sam Goody, Time Out Arcade, The Gap, among many others. 

Sam Goody store front being worked on.
The Gap store front being worked on.

I first took notice of something odd being amiss with Gwinnett Place Mall upon visiting it on the first couple days of May 2018. When I reached the entrance to this particular wing of the mall there were signs up that said "Notice entering construction zone, please proceed with caution, pardon our progress and be advised that floors may be slippery"  also "Absolutely no photos or video beyond this point" and "Beauty Master customers only beyond this point." So after seeing all that I was intrigued as to what was going on, could this dead mall actually be getting a remodel? As soon as I started walking into this mall wing I knew some stranger things (pun intended) were going on. It looked like I had stepped into a time warp that was under construction. I was very confused as to what was going on but the more I walked around the more I began to realize I had stepped into a movie or TV show set. There were people everywhere that were busy working to get things set up including putting merchandise in the retro store fronts. Surprisingly you could freely walk around the entire wing being worked on and look around without anyone stopping you. I snapped some photos and went home to try and research what was going on.

Early May
Early May
Early May

At first I couldn't find anything online as to what was going on nor any pictures of the work. A few days passed and I sent a tip to a local Atlanta business blog ToNeToATL.com about what I saw at the mall and some pictures that I snapped while there. He hadn't heard anything but was very interested as to what was going on too. A couple days after that, I found a casting call online for the Netflix show Stranger Things for 1980's mall patron extras for filming at a mall 30 minutes north of Atlanta. At that time I knew this was what was going on at Gwinnett Place Mall. I emailed this information to ToNeTo Atlanta and he said he was going to visit the set for himself and then do a story on his blog about it using some of the pictures I had taken. On May 10, 2018 he published a blog post about Stanger Things filming at Gwinnett Place Mall. It was the first information on the internet about what was going on at Gwinnett Place including the first pictures of the set progress. It ended up being ToNeTo Atlanta's most viewed blog post ever and hit that mark in just a few short days. It also tipped the local media off to what was going on and within a couple days every news site was reporting on what was going on and posting their own pictures. That led the production company to tighten security and access to the set. Filming begin in mid May 2018 and continued on and off for the next two months. 

The fictional Starcourt Mall directory

Once the work to transform the wing was completed and filming begin, access to the wing was closed. During the times when filming was not occurring large fencing with black tarps over it were put up at the entrance to the wing to block access. The top level access was completely closed off. The bottom level had the fencing on both sides from the wing entrance all the way down to the Beauty Master store entrance at the end creating a long, narrow pathway to that stores mall entrance. You could still see some of the mall through the tarps and fencing but all access was blocked off. The power to that whole wing was turned off also, so all of the store fronts were dark. The exterior entrance doors to the wing are also all locked. As of July 2018, everything is still set up but is also still blocked off from public access. Filming looks to being continuing intermittently as probably re-shoots and other extra scenes are to still be filmed.

Access to Beauty Master's mall entrance, with Starcourt shops blocked off

You can still see through the tarps into the Starcourt areas

Two different Youtubers by the name of Erika NekoArc and Ace's Adventures have been successful in finding their way into the closed off Starcourt sections and have shot some videos of what they've found, which can be viewed below. Several finished interior pictures taken by Erika NekoArc we are featuring on here as well. See below for all the rest of the pictures we have captured of this transformation.




























The below interior pictures were all taken by Erika NekoArc after set work was completed and filming started. Special thanks to her for providing these.























 Transformation of one of Gwinnett Place's exterior entrances into the entrance to the Starcourt Mall.








*Not affiliated with Netflix or Stranger Things*

4 comments:

  1. Awesome. This may actually drive some more retail as fans of the show come to visit the set!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I miss Waldenbooks—I got my first AD&D books at a Walden’s!

    ReplyDelete
  3. So glad this gnarly 80s mall is 'real' (and visitable). Though I'm in Canada, I'd love to be able to visit this place and see it in person... I'd even dress totally 80s :)

    ReplyDelete