The Starcourt Mall was a shopping center located in Hawkins, Indiana. It was a subsidiary of Starcourt Industries. The mall's opening in beginning of the summer of 1985 was inaugurated by Mayor Larry Kline.
"Starcourt Mall is Hawkins' first premium shopping center featuring many trendy shopping facilities, where families, friends and teenagers can come together to hang out, shop, dine and enjoy." - Starcourt Industries
Starcourt Mall acts as a main location of interest in Season 3, created sometime after the fall of 1984 and acting as beacon of business by the summer of 1985. The mall was, in the words of the mayor, in the best interest for Hawkins, as it created new jobs and stimulated the economy: Steve Harrington and Robin Buckley worked at the Scoops Ahoy, for example. The Party would exploit Steve's job to use the mall's service tunnels to sneak into the movies.
However, this directly correlated with small town "mom and pop" stores, such as Melvald's General Store, struggling financially and earned the ire of the townspeople, who would protest and try to convince others to boycott the mall.
When Dustin Henderson's Cerebro accidently picks up a Russian code, he decides to approach Steve to help him solve the code. Robin offers her help and the three uncover a seemingly nonsensical set of phrases. In the meantime, Steve recognizes the background music of the recording to correlate to a coin operated horse machine, indicating that while the code was Russian, the transmission location was right in the mall.
Upon getting a shipment, a phrase of the code sticks out to Robin, relating to the LYNX Transportation, eventually leading to her unraveling the time and location of an important shipment at the mall and, along with Erica, the four accidently trigger an elevator that takes them miles below the mall, where they discover the Starcourt Mall was a front for a secret Russian base that hosted the first Key, a high powered energy machine, that attempted to re-open a gate to the Upside Down.
The Key seemed to be unsuccessful at keeping the doorway open however, as it continually fired energy. Regardless, it was open enough to allow part of the Mind Flayer to re-activate and attempt to create a physical vessel for itself, out of Flayed Hawkins residents.
In a battle to close the Gate to kill the Spider Monster on July 4, 1985, Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper, along with Murray and former Russian aligned Dr. Alexei, traveled underground, while most of the Party confronted the Spider Monster and a possessed Billy Hargrove. With Eleven weakened from an earlier attack, the Party used stolen fireworks to attack the monster, inhibiting it with high heat. Eventually, Joyce was able to close the Gate, at the apparent sacrifice of Jim and Billy.
To the general public, the mall burned in a fire, likely created from the amount of fireworks used during the battle. The Indianapolis Gazette confirmed thirty causalities from the fire, including Jim Hopper. In actuality, the U.S government, having been contacted earlier by Jim and Joyce, arrived at the scene following the destruction of the Gate and shut down the Russian base, but not before some escaped back to Russia to continue their experiments with the Upside Down. The story about the fire helped cover the real news of Soviet invasion and, to most, only solidified the rumors that Hawkins as a whole was a cursed town.
Overall, the shopping mall is very much a reference to the real shopping malls of the 80's, and includes typical stores found in malls of the time and their success as a social hub for local communities: Many now-defunct brands were featured in the mall, such as Sears. The design style of the building, the interior décor, and the products displayed in the various stores are all typical of the 1980's.
- The Gap
- Sam Goody
- Kaufman Shoes
- Wicks 'N' Sticks
- Regis Hairstylists
- Lovelace Lingerie
- Fine Perfumes
- Camera Repair
- JCPenney Home Store
- SHAPES Activewear Outlet
- The Game Player
- Chess King
- The Eyewear House
- ESPRIT - Coming Soon
- Spencer's Gifts - Coming Soon
- Scoops Ahoy
- Hot Dog on a Stick
- The Great Cookie
- New York Pizza
- Orange Julius
- Burger King
- Hawkins’ Heroes
- Hot Sam Pretzels
- Imperial Panda
- The Nut Shack
- Wyatt's Cafeteria
- The Ground Round
- Taco Bell - Coming Soon
- Starcourt Cinemas
- Time-Out Arcade
- Flash Studio
- LYNX Transportation
Behind the scenes
The filming location for the Starcourt Mall was the Gwinnett Place Mall, located in Duluth Georgia. In preparation for filming, a portion of the mall was remodeled to resemble a mall from the time period, including several popular outlets from the '80s.
During the filming of season three, many mall guests of the mall looked into the site through the separating curtain and recorded with their phones. This caused distress with the cast and crew.
The movie theater façade was built completely on the set.
In celebration of the third season's release, an event titled the Starcourt Mall Experience was held at Tower Records in Hollywood, California on July 5-7.
- Most fans were confused on how the mall fire started, but it can be explained that, most likely, the fireworks that the kids were throwing at the Spider Monster caused the fire. A few fires were activate after the Monster's death and most likely spread afterwards.
- Kaufman Shoes, one of the stores at the mall, was created purposely for the plot of the third season and didn’t actually exist in 1985.
- The name "Starcourt" is a possible reference to the Soviet Union's star and sickle flag, which itself appears in the opening scene of "Suzie, Do You Copy?".
- The name "Starcourt" is also a possible reference to a secret tribunal in Elizabethan England, which tried political opponents of Queen Elizabeth on trumped-up charges.
- The Gwinnett Place Mall, where filming occurred, closed in early 2021 and will apparently be demolished.
- A murder occurred in the food court several months before filming occurred. The body was not discovered for some weeks, since it was in an unused stall in the food court.
- According to Steve, he earned three dollars an hour at Scoops, which would be nine dollars with current inflation.
- "Stranger Things Season 3 Video" TV Line. July 16, 2018
- "Gwinnett Place Mall goes back to the future for ‘Stranger Things’" AJC. May 11, 2018
- "‘Stranger Things’: Everything We Learned About Season 3 On Set at the Starcourt Mall" Collider. June 14, 2018
- Stranger Things Experience