I tweeted this yesterday, but if you’re not properly stalking me (hiya, David Conrad!), then you may have missed it.

This is a price tag I found on an old storage bin in my basement when I was putting away Christmas decorations last night:

Hills is where my mother bought most of our school clothes right up until graduation from high school. Hills is where the five of us used to follow her from rack to rack as she selected hundreds of dollars of jeans we would peg and sweaters so bright we would blind dogs.  We would moan and groan and whine and OMG WE HAVE BEEN HERE FOR AN HOUR AND MY JELLY SHOES ARE KILLING ME AND MY BANANA CLIP JUST FELL OUT, and we would try to sit anywhere we could find a place for our bums even if that meant ducking into a circular clothes rack to sit on the wheels.

Hills is where I also recall her putting our winter coats on layaway each year.

I’m going to blow your minds. Hills is NOT where I ever got popcorn or hotdogs. So many people have that memory, but I don’t. Maybe my mother didn’t allow us to purchase those things. Maybe she did and I’ve blocked it out. I’m sure my sisters will chime in here and set me straight either way.

One thing is for sure though: Hills is where the toys are.

True story.

I’m going to sell that price tag on eBay for $30,000. Or maybe I can get my butt on Antiques Roadshow.

“Your Hills Department Store price tag is worth … ONE MILLION DOLLARS.”

At least.

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  1. nycldenise
    January 4, 2012 10:33 am

    While currently at a ripe age of 23 – I think me and Scarehouse Scott had the same childhood. The Hills trip (North Hills or Rt. 8) would hopefully always be followed up by a trip to Old Country Buffet.

    I also, too, remember the smell of Hills – I hated it. I used to hold my nose until we got a good 10 feet past the snacks stand. Oh man, how that makes ME feel old.

  2. nycldenise
    January 4, 2012 10:34 am


    North Hills or Rt. 8. Hah.

  3. Erin
    January 4, 2012 10:38 am


  4. Amanda
    January 4, 2012 10:49 am

    We went to the Hills on Rodi Road. I remember spending HOURS there and also hiding/sitting inside the circle racks! My mom woulnd’t let us buy the popcorn, either. I was always excited to go b/c as the 3rd girl, I rarely got clothes that were new, so it was a real treat to go to Hills and get them!
    @Butcher’s Dog. Yes, I am getting old if I’m mourning Hills, and I also fear my kids won’t have as many great memories. I can just imagine how excited they would be by the conveyor belt at Service Merchandise!

  5. Amanda
    January 4, 2012 10:51 am

    Also loved the milkshakes at Rax!

  6. bucdaddy
    January 4, 2012 11:21 am

    In 10 years, if God and/or the Mayans allow us to llive that long, we’ll all be saying:

    “Remember Sears and K-Mart? Those were the days.”

  7. Kristin
    January 4, 2012 11:42 am

    Wow that brings back some memories! All of my jellies came from Hills. We always went to the one in Irwin & I would be so bored I would hide in the clothes racks and unintentionally scare people. My mom would always bribe me to go with her and be a good girl with a hot dog. Yummmmmm!

  8. Jeff2481
    January 4, 2012 12:42 pm

    Talk about bringing back memories. I was always dragged by my mother to the Hills over near Kennywood. I remember that it was attached to Kennywood Mall, which was nothing more than a long concourse that housed a Fashion Bug, an arcade, and other small time stores. I used to play in that concourse for hours while my mom shopped. I also remember sitting in the parking lot during Fourth of July, watching the Kennywood fireworks. Now that area is just another strip mall. Only on a few occasions did my parents ever buy me popcorn or anything else, but I do remember going to Rax or Ponderosa next to Kennywood after a few Hills trips.

  9. JoggingJeans
    January 4, 2012 12:49 pm

    Our family would make a trip SPECIFICALLY for the popcorn before the Dukes of Hazzard on Friday nights. It was the highlight of this young girl’s week. :)

  10. JoggingJeans
    January 4, 2012 12:51 pm

    My first job was at the Hill’s jewelry counter. I measured and cut and attached the clasps!

  11. Elle C.
    January 4, 2012 1:37 pm

    I always tell the story about how we had to put our school clothes on layaway at Hills every year. It was so exciting to go and pick them up with my mom and rediscover what we had picked a month or so before! We were never allowed to have the popcorn but it was a real treat if my mom let us have a cherry Icee. I am reminded of Hills everytime I buy my daughter an Icee at Target!

    Also, remember PHAR-MOR? We live in Robinson, so the Hills, Phar-Mor, and Childrens Palace were all near each other. In their places are now a Guitar Center, Petco, and Value City Furniture respectively. Fun times.

  12. TracyinSC
    January 4, 2012 2:07 pm

    Back in the mid-80s, my grandparents lived in the apartments behind Hills in Irwin (Colony something or another)? My sister and I would walk down to the movie theater and Hills. The number of cassettes I bought there! I can remember, specifically, New Edition, The Cars, Madonna. I saw Thriller for the first time at Hills – after you walked in the door there was a TV on the right that was looping it. And I always got a pretzel with my Icee. Wasn’t Fashion Bug in the same plaza as well? My first MAC card was from the bank that sat in front of Hills, but I can’t remember the name…? And Rax. My fave fast food. I worked at the Rax in Murrysville for awhile. Good memories. good memories.

  13. PittinDC
    January 4, 2012 3:02 pm

    Hills popcorn was the BEST!!

    There is also an awesome picture of me sitting among the stuffed animals at Children’s Palace when I was like, four. Those were the days :)

  14. Katie
    January 4, 2012 3:55 pm

    I do remember D&K. There was one still in McKeesport till 2000 or something like that. I remember because we got socks and onsies for my oldest daughter who was born that year.

  15. Mimi
    January 4, 2012 6:13 pm

    @JoggingJeans: I love it! :)

  16. Schuyler
    January 4, 2012 8:57 pm

    My sister and I used to ride our bikes to the Hills in the North Hills (no good way to say that … I tried). As soon as we’d have just enough crumpled dollars and change to buy a new Pretty Pony, off we’d go … we must have spent a fortune on those things!

    As for Service Merchandise, I specifically remember my very old-fashioned grandmother refusing to pay for her item there because she didn’t have it in her hand. They tried to tell her it would come down the conveyor belt after she paid, but she would have NONE of that. Made them get it first, then pay for it … mortifying for a teenager … (looking back … I say good for her!).

  17. Yinzerchick
    January 4, 2012 9:41 pm

    I worked at the snack bar at Hills on Rodi Road when I was a teenager. Not only did we have to wear these incredibly cool maroon nylon smocks, but we had to wear insanely stylish old-man-style squarish baseball hats (to keep our hair out of the food, I guess). The guys all thought we snackbar chicks were killer HAWT with those hats! And I never, ever ate the food. Not because there was anything wrong with it, but when you make popcorn and pretzels and slushies all day, you don’t even want to THINK about eating that stuff.

  18. Larry
    January 5, 2012 3:11 am

    MMM… I remember going down to the Kennywood Hills (before Kennywood Mall!) with a pocket full of quarters, and playing Galaga until my eyes were bleeding, and then buying a frozen Coke and walking home!

    (Man… I’m old…!)

  19. Jill M
    January 5, 2012 9:20 am

    Anyone remember Jewel Mart? You shopped by catalog and placed your order and waited for it to come through the conveyor line?

  20. Pghlove
    January 5, 2012 3:23 pm

    Loooooove Hills! I’m still a sucker for a Cherry Icee (Coke, ick!)and a really salty hot pretzel. Thanks for bringing up such a great memory! =)

  21. Donncha
    January 5, 2012 5:11 pm

    Bucdaddy — I totally remember GeeBee. It was a chain of strip shopping center department stores by Glosser Brothers, which was based in Johnstown. We had GeeBee and Penn Traffic and W.T. Grants and, years earlier, Miracle Mart. Any earlier and we’d be using rocks for currency.

    But here’s a trip into the Paleolithic: does anybody remember the S&H Green Stamp store and Plaidland (where one redeemed Plaid Stamps)?