The series was hosted by Pat Finn from 1991-1994, 1996-1998, and 2000-2002, and the rest of the run by JD Roberto from 2003-2005. Co-hosts/announcers include Mark L. Walberg (1991-1994), Jason Grant Smith (1996-1997), Dee Bradley Baker (1997-1998; 2000-2002), and Don Priess (2003-2005).
A coin toss backstage before the show determined which couple would have the option of playing the first stunt. The host described the first of two stunts and the team who won the toss chose to play or pass to the other team. Stunts varied widely through the years, but more or less involved the host announcing a category and the team answering questions appropriate to the topic or various other games based on pricing. In earlier years, stunts similar to those on Beat the Clock were also played (such as the female partner stuffing three balloons in her husband's pair of over-sized trousers without breaking any). Most stunts had a 60-second time limit, however some early stunts were played with a 30-, 45-second or rarely 90-second time limit .
Successfully completing the stunt earned points and allowed the team to pick a prize from one of the seven stores of the lower floor of the mall in the first round and the upper floor in round two. One of the stores also hid a mini vacation dubbed the "Shopper's Special".
Two stunt rounds were played, with stunts in the first round worth 100 points and 200 points in the second round. Whichever team did not have the choice of playing or passing the first stunt in round one had the option in round two.
A note: Many of the stores are named after people who worked on the show and for Stone Stanley Entertainment.
The team in the lead at the end of the round won the game and advanced to the bonus round. If a tie occurred, a final question was asked. If the player answered correctly, they went to the bonus round. If the player answered incorrectly, the opposing team automatically went to the bonus round.
One at a time, the team opened one of six packages on a table, each concealing a prize. The shopper decided whether to keep the gift or exchange it with another gift from one of the other stores in the mall. If they decided to exchange it, the runner scurried to one of the stores for another prize. In either case, the runner had to take the item to a table on one side of the set and hit a bell before the shopper could open another box.
After all six boxes had been exchanged/kept, or if the 90-second time limit expires, the host and announcer described the prizes and added up each item's retail price. The couple kept everything they selected (including any prizes from the first 2 rounds), but if they exceeded the $2,500 threshold, the couple won a vacation.
During the show's first two seasons, the couple only needed to obtain $1,000 in prizes. In the first season with the $1,000 quota, there was always at least one prize that was worth $300 or more. In addition, some of the packages in the first season contained gag gifts, which if selected only added $10 or below to a team's total. The gag gifts were eliminated when the required money amount was raised.
Like the stunts in the previous version, the questions dealt with pricing items or knowledge of celebrities. The team was given one minute to come up with a set number of correct answers. As in the original version, completing the challenge earned 100 points in round one, 200 in round two.
Unlike the previous version, where teams verbally chose a store in the mall, the other member of the team went into the store to grab a gift box from any department that had a flashing light, then ran back to host Roberto, who opened the box and revealed their prize. As before, there was also a "Shopper's Special" which earned the team a bonus trip for finding it.
Round three, the "Shopper's Challenge" round, was played exactly the same as in previous versions.
On June 3, 1996, the show moved to The Family Channel and was renamed The New Shop 'til You Drop. There it ran from September 30, 1996 to August 14, 1998. After airing reruns for a year, on April 3, 2000, PAX (later ION) began airing new episodes before canceling it on May 27, 2005. Reruns continued through August 11, 2006). PAX re-aired the 1996-1998 (Family Channel) episodes of The New Shop 'til You Drop from April 19, 1999 to October 29, 1999, and the final season of the Lifetime version from November 1, 1999 to March 31, 2000.
One episode from 2000 aired on GSN, during The 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time series, even though GSN has never owned the rights to this show. The Episode that aired on GSN had the Biggest Record in the Shopper's Challenge Round, which was 950 Points.