ANDY LALINO RESPONDS:
Thanks for sharing those great memories of St. Petersburg's original incarnation of Gateway Mall, before the corporations came in and turned it into a dull, lifeless, generic shopping strip center devoid of any personality whatsoever. I guess that's not only "progress", but a norm in life during the cracker-bland 2000's.
Note: In my response to you below you will see references to some "weird stuff". That is because many of us here on the site are "fanboys" - fans of horror, science-fiction, and fantasy.
When you compare/contrast the Gateway Mall of now (it's not actually an indoor mall, it's a strip center) it's easy to contrast the different eras. In the '70s/'80s we had a game room (called the Dream Machine), Gateway Mall Books & Gifts (where I purchased by very first Dungeons & Dragons tomes, Conan paperbacks, Dr. Who novels, Heavy Metal magazine, Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, etc.), Paperback Booksmith & Musicsmith (where I would marvel at the artwork of ELO, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin album covers and for the first time saw The Sex Pistols in print), Gateway Mall II Theaters, Specs Music, and of course the venerable Pot O' Gold video, which changed my life. I mean, renting all those exploitation/cult films in the early '80s warped me forever!
I even recall enduring JByrons while my mom shopped for clothing. I'd sneak over to the book section and read Mad magazine paperbacks! Occasionally, they'd have Wizard of Id ones too.
It's tough to even find a picture of the old Gateway Mall. I've 'Googled' the name, and all it comes up with are lame stores that sell a bunch of junk taking up space. I suggest attempting to "Google" some of the past proprietors to see if they have any sites devoted to the past businesses that previously existed at Gateway. Your best bet may be the aforementioned Gateway Books & Gifts (who may have migrated to Seminole Mall). I recall it was a family business who were well-respected among fanboys of the time. Good Star Trek fans, that bunch.
Just a few more stores that may jog some good memories: Orange Julius; that strange, very dark pet store (near the JByrons entrance) that sold mostly fish and sick birds in the back (sad); the ceramic store which I remember was run by a man in a wheelchair, Lemon Tree spa (with the Greek/Roman sculptures of women that kids rubbed the nipples off of), Golddome bank, the legendary Country Dinner Playhouse (one time we saw Anne B. Davis eating at Morrisons after a play); and there was a good Italian pizza place which I believe was called D'Italia.
Lastly, I'll remind you of the times when our esteemed horror host Dr. Paul Bearer made appearances there at several haunted houses and the infamous stunt shows in the parking lot featuring Captain Ego. In one stunt, he dodges blowdarts, in another, he drove a motorcycle through a wall of flames! I also remember when Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers/Tarzan star Buster Crabbe made a special appearance there.
Count me in as a member of the Gateway Mall Preservation Society -- we have to keep those memories alive!!