May cause dizziness, sexual nightmares, and sleep crime

Columbus Throwback: Incredible Universe

Now if you aren’t from Columbus you may not know what I’m talking about, but does anyone remember when the Incredible Universe opened up in Columbus? I swear I remember it being insane. REALLY insane. People came from all over the state. Imagine if Barack Obama decided to move the White House to Mill Run in Hilliard. It was literally THAT BIG of a deal.

My parents used to go there all the time just to walk around. They would let me run around in there for an hour or two and play the 3DO or the Virtual Boy until I couldn’t see straight. I could only afford CD’s from there but my parents wouldn’t let me buy the ones I wanted. Luckily I went there with another family and I was able to purchase the only 2 things I wanted: The Warren G – Regulate…. G Funk Era and Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle albums. I didn’t have headphones so the CD’s were shortly taken away from me after my mom overheard some of the lyrics.

DISCLAIMER: I was home schooled during this part of my life so I may be completely mistaken about the impact Incredible Universe had on Columbus.

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14 responses

  1. TC

    Wow lol

    December 8, 2008 at 7:58 pm

  2. I’ve been in Columbus (Hilliard, in particular, which is obvs Mill Run territory) my whole life and that name sounds so familiar but the memory is very vague. Was it a lot like Sam’s Club? The things you describe in association with I.U. sound just like Sam’s.

    Do you remember Cub Foods? There was one in the big shopping on W. Broad by Chuck E. Cheese… remember THAT?!

    Ok, SHIT. I just read the Wiki entry on it and it’s the building that is now Garden Ridge…and I am trying SO HARD to remember it being I.U. I remember driving past it all the time on 270..but I can’t…visualize the store interior. …..I’m gonna call my mom and ask her……

    (PS: my #1 favorite past time is boggling my mind over bizarre nostalgia like this shit from the 90s. so, thanks for posting ‘dis.)

    December 8, 2008 at 10:03 pm

  3. Oh yeah, a concept like that would only survive in the 90s. It just sounds so cheesy. Reading the description of it reminded me of like..Universal Studios.

    Did you ever go to the Chiller? or go to like, Skate America? So many 90s birthday parties happened at those two places.

    December 8, 2008 at 10:07 pm

  4. That place was rad. You had to have a membership to get in (which was free).

    December 8, 2008 at 10:31 pm

  5. James

    My friend Joey’s dad rented out an indoor baseball field for one hour for the three of us on his birthday, it was super tight. Damn totally forgot about that place, thanks for bringing it up.

    Was it like a weird ass home school field trip when you went there?

    December 9, 2008 at 12:40 am

  6. i just remember my best friend at the time never shutting up about that place, and making me want to go there worse than anything in the world.

    the 90s were crazy.

    December 9, 2008 at 9:23 am

  7. Cas

    I remember the place. It was really HUGE. I went to the grand opening and the place was packed. We enjoyed the then new concept home theatres with surround sound.
    During the opening there were two guys planing twin grand pianos (I’ve seen them since, also, but can’t think of their names.)

    But actually, I did not like the fact that I had to have a (free) membership which I had to show everytime I went in, and possibly upon departure. I think the strategy was that you felt you had to buy SOMETHING before leaving. But on the other hand, you did not have to keep track of your receipt if you bought something because the record was in the system with your membership number. But overall, it was just too BIG.

    One other thing I did not like was the extremely casual uniforms – polo shirts and shorts, for example. If I’m going to buy some fairly high end electronics with big bucks, I don’t want to buy from a “kid” in shorts. It just doesn’t add much credibility to the salesperson. Also, their television display was a large wall of tellys and it looked impressive, but there was actually only a few different models…so what good is it to have 20 -30 sets that are all the same.

    Oh well, apparently I was not alone in my overall dislike of the store.

    December 12, 2008 at 3:09 am

  8. I actually worked at IU…and Grand Opened it in November, 1994.
    It was a great concept – far before it’s time.

    May 12, 2009 at 10:06 pm

  9. Alf

    I worked at I.U. too, it was probably one of the best jobs of my life. I always made it known that if I were given free meals and a place to sleep that I would work for free.

    You had to have a membership card because that it how we made it easy for you to buy big items and not have to lug those items around the store. We would scan your card then scan the item. Then the order would go to the warehouse and be set to the front of the store where it would be waiting for you when you checked out. In this way, you never had to worry about buying damaged stock and our inventory system was very reliable. We could tell you right away if we did not have something.

    I was not a big fan of the attire, but it went with the atmosphere and the lime green and purple clothes made us stand out in such a chaotic environment.

    Some of the things to remember about the store:
    The employees were called “cast members” and the concept of the store was that you were on a movie set.
    Every employee had a nickname and that name was given to him by other employees during new hire training.
    The employees took classes and were constantly being trained on site to keep them up to date with current technology and customer service skills.
    Employees were “secret shopped” on a regular basis so we never knew if we were talking to an actual customer or to another store employee.
    The store had:
    A daycare
    A Jumbo-tron in the rotunda
    A Radio shack type store called “The Shack” (Tandy owned radio shack as well and now tandy is simply known as Radio Shack)
    A media store (Music and movies on CD Tape, VHS, Beta, DVD and Laser Disc)
    A “make your own” karaoke music video studio
    A Mc Donald’s
    A book section
    A car stereo store with multiple rooms to test our speakers and an entire car parked in the rotunda
    A Console Game Store with several systems set up for you to play
    A Software Store
    A Computer Store
    An Electronics Store
    A TV Store
    Several Home Audio rooms furnished like a nice living room always showing the latest new releases
    A Scratch and Dent store that only sold return items
    A outdoor store that sold grills, lawn furniture and other outdoor items.
    An “everything else” store that sold a bunch of odds and end type stuff, you could always find really interesting and unusual stuff there.
    A Shipping store that would allow you to purchase an item and then have it shipped somewhere else. (I bought a TV once and had it shipped to another state)
    A computer Repair Store
    An Electronics repair store
    An Appliance store (small and large)
    A Furniture store (Mostly for electronics)
    When I left, they were in the process of building the set of a TV Cooking show back behind the appliance area.
    And I’m sure I am forgetting some other stuff but yeah I loved that store.

    I worked in the computer sales area and business was good. In one weekend I sold over 138,000 worth of computer equipment. It would get so crazy at times with 20 guys working and still there were customers that had to wait for us. Sometimes customers would grab at our shirts in order to pull us to them so we could hear them. I suppose that’s the drawback of having to wait for an employee before you could buy an item.

    December 21, 2009 at 11:08 am

    • EmptyEnergy

      Oh man the memories!! I lost my virginity there. Ok. But, that was my first place where I went into credit card debt. All my friends and I would go there and spend hours on end. The store had EVERYTHING. I am surprised that you listed all of the above and Thank You for that!!

      On Christmas Day I had money and wanted a Twisted Metal game. The only store that I thought would have it and be open on Christmas was Incredible Universe. I called the store and they checked their inventory. The game was in. We hopped in my car and went straight to the store.

      Also, during the running of Incredible Universe, there were a lot of Hilliard cops. Since 270 North and South around Mill Run/Cemetery Road has a lot of hills, the cops would wait at the bottom catching speeders. Luckily, I never was ticketed.

      Most of my friends now are transplants to Columbus. They have been here under 8 years. They never got to enjoy the amazing atmosphere of the store. I try very hard to tell them about it.

      May 17, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    • I worked there too in Car Audio and Cell phones it was the best place to work ever there were some awsome partys after work too i rember coming in after a osu mich game the next morning for a big sale still completly trashed karen from records got me coffy from mc donalds also angela from the shack and so many other fun people it was the best job ever the strange thing was all of out nick names we had to have mine was Moter Mouth lol

      September 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm

  10. Wordpress User

    haha, it cool, LOL

    September 14, 2012 at 1:44 am

  11. GraveDigger27

    I remember when the Incredible Universe store in Hillard opened up, such a big store and it carried loads of stuff. But it was also incredibly bad timed – it had 3 times the space of competing stores in the area and both Circuit City and Best Buy had decided to move into the area as well. Now instead of only having to compete with the well entrenched Sun TV & Appliances chain (which had chased away many competitors over the years) they were facing the deep pockets of both CompUSA, Circuit City and Best Buy. Circuit City made a point of building a store near every Sun TV location in Columbus and huge price wars started occurring.

    I always thought that the concept of having such a large store being a draw that would bring customers from adjoining states (Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Pennsylvania) to the Central Ohio store when it would be easier to go to local retainers who had items that were priced just as low (IU never was the low-cost leader – they just had more of everything…) I would go there to look for the latest CDs or a hot video game, but when I needed to buy a new stereo system I ended up buying it at Sam’s Club – the same system was $300 more at Incredible Universe and $200 more at Sun TV (and both actually had a component missing that I got at Sam’s…) Being a larger store meant that they needed to turnover a larger inventory than their competitors (who had multiple locations around the city) versus Incredible Universe which was on the opposite side of town from where I lived.

    Now fast forward to 2012 – Incredible Universe is long gone (as are CompUSA, Circuit City and Sun TV) and most people have forgotten that the store even existed – but I will always remember the experience of going into the Incredible Universe store for the first time and marveling at the variety of products they carried. It was an interesting try but unfortunately it wasn’t thought out very well…

    October 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm

  12. You are 100% correct about the impact of IU. That lace was huge! And super expensive too. The funny thing is the only thing i bought from there was also death row related. I got a snoop dog poster LoL. That store turned into garden ridge and recently at home. Thanks for the memories.

    Oh BTW i remember they had you sign up for free membership cards that i had until recently.

    December 6, 2014 at 1:32 am

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