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Starcourt Mall from ‘Stranger Things’ is actually a real dead mall

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The set designers had to rebuild an entire section of the mall from scratch

Screenshot of a fan tour inside the Stranger Things 3 set at Gwinnett Place Mall.
Screenshot of a fan’s video tour inside the Stranger Things 3 set at Gwinnett Place Mall.
Ace’s Adventures/Youtube

Ah, the shopping mall: It’s a dying beacon of ’80s consumerism, the inspiration for legions of ruin photography and films, and now, improbably, the star of a hit TV show.

In season three of Netflix’s Stranger Things, Hawkins, Indiana, gets a shiny new mall called the Starcourt, and it’s everything a kid with a $20 monthly allowance could ever hope for (Claire’s, Orange Julius, a six-screen cinema, etc.). The Starcourt, of course, isn’t real, but the mall where the scenes were filmed very much is.

In a totally satisfying bit of TV trivia, Stranger Things’ set designers have revealed that the fictional shopping relic isn’t a soundstage but a real, derelict mall on the outskirts of Atlanta called Gwinnett Place Mall. Built in 1984, the mall has since fallen on hard times, paving the way for Stranger Things production designer Chris Trujillo to swoop in and transform the space.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Trujillo and his team gutted a section of the mall and recreated more than 40 stores from scratch, including an accurate mall map. “It was “a real messy situation,” he told the LA Times. “Imagine a mall without stores and without decoration. We had to painstakingly re-create the facades, all of the signage, all of the storefront displays. In many cases we had to reconfigure the storefront architecture because it was in disrepair or it had been piecemeal remodeled through the years.”

The work paid off. The Starcourt look like it’s straight out of the 1980s, in all its neon-signed glory. Check out the full story on the creation of Starcourt Mall here and tour the Gwinnett Place Mall decked out for Stranger Things 3 in the fan video below.