The Village Square Mall’s days of offering a variety of stores may be long gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find a little bit of everything at America’s Groove.
Few stores remain inside of the mall at 1910 South Banker Street in Effingham, Illinois. And yes, the city’s name inspired Ben Folds to write “Effington”
What can be found in the far end of the mall is America’s Groove, a shop with everything from vinyl to retro toys to arcade games. It’s like someone’s childhood carefully preserved down a secret corridor of a Midwestern mall.
Even with only a few stores remaining in the mall, America’s Groove was easy to miss during my visit. Although it looks like the owner will soon be installing exterior signs.
Racks of vinyl greet you upon walking in the door. America’s Groove features an extensive collection of both new and used titles on vinyl, CD and cassette.
The amount of media available doesn’t stop there. DVDs, video games, board games and more are all available in the front section of the store.
The true America’s Groove experience happens when you start making your way to the back half of the store. Racks and display cases feature retro toys, costumes and other throwbacks that are sure to illicit a “oh, I had that when I was a kid.”
The store seemed particularly found of He-Man action figures who had their own devoted display case. I debated how I would explain to my wife that we would need to make room on our fireplace mantel for a Castle Grayskull playset (Spoiler alert: The mantel is still filled with candles).
Continue walking deeper into America’s Groove and you will meet such characters as this headless cowboy kicking up his feet…
… And Yoda just hanging around.
In the very back room of America’s Groove you will find a collection of arcade games and a small stage.
The store actually hosts bands on the stage, which might be one of the best uses for an old mall that has lost its charm and foot traffic. And who wouldn’t want to play a quick game of Ms. Pac-Man between bands?
America’s Groove is a record store at heart, but it is so much more than that.
It is a place where kids today can go to buy a Ouija board after hearing mysterious rumors of its power at school. It is a place where those who were kids in the ’80s can hold an Atari 2600 game cartridge one more time.
If you visit, tell the headless cowboy I said “hi.”