Archive for the ‘out-of-area’ Category
You'll recall that we discussed the announcement a few months back about how Sears & Kmart have announced a round of store closings which largely left South Carolina stores (except for Sumter) untouched.
Well, I was recently in Fernandina Beach, and found that their Kmart is one of the ones which got the ax. The store is on Sadler Road, which is the first major connector between 8th Street (the bridge road onto the island) and the beach, an area which is in general doing *quite* well, with lots of new upscale shops (both there and on the other side of the bridge).
When I was growing up, Fernandina was still quite a small town, and this would have been a major blow. Now there is a Wal-Mart a few blocks away, and Target within a mile.
The store is still open for now, and while the inventory is starting to hollow out and the vacant space to spread (as in the Dutch Square Kmart) there is still while until the final days when the fixtures start to go..
UPDATE 10 October 2012 -- As these pictures from 5 August 2012 show, the place is closed and all the logos and branding is gone:
The middle route from Columbia to the Grand Strand takes you through Manning on SC-261. US-521 joins 261 there, and they run together until just east of Manning where 261 forks North to Kingstree and 521 continues on to Greeleyville.
Historically rest stops between Manning and Greeleyville have been pretty sparse, so perhaps that's why I especially noticed this rather lavish little gas plaza when it was constructed just a few years ago a little East of the 261/521 fork. That, and the fact that any sign with the word "pizza" on it tends to concentrate my attention.
While the right confluence of events hadn't ever happened, I figured it was a pretty sure thing that sooner or later I would be stopping at Tanners. Well, that was true, but not for the reasons I'd anticipated -- I noticed earlier this year that the place, which had started on such a large scale (this wasn't your typical no-name, one-guy, rural convenience store) so recently was well and truly gone.
I don't know if it turned out that US-521 wasn't as major a road as they had figured, but even with gas, pizza, bait and an attached liquor store as draws apparently the traffic wasn't there. LoopNet on the other hand, says they cleared $78,000 and 100,000 gallons monthly, so who knows?
At any rate, the road between Manning and Greeleyville is pretty empty again.
Well, it seems to me I got better pictures last year, but I had a good time as usual at Brookgreen Gardens Nights Of 1000 Candles last Saturday. The weather was nice -- I didn't have to zip my jacket or put on gloves, and the lights were as spectacular as usual.
If you will be in the vicinity of Murrells Inlet on 9, 10, 16, 17 or 18 December this year, you should definitely stop by and check it out!
I noticed a new cut-in to Farrow Parkway at the (bankrupt) Market Commons shopping development in Myrtle Beach back in July.
Market Commons is the Myrtle Beach equivalent of Village At Sandhill, and is the most promenient development on the old Myrtle Beach Airforce Base. The base (which shared runways with the Myrtle Beach Jetport) was closed in 1993, and most of the old Airforce Buildings are already gone. The new cut-in to Farrow however leads to one which is still standing, more or less.
I don't know what Building 581 was used for, but the size of some of the doors make me think it may have been a vehicle maintenance facility or storage building. Probably the later, as I saw no evidence of pits or lifts. The place has now been heavily tagged with graffiti, sometimes amusingly, sometimes profanely, so some of the pictures after the jump might be considered NSFW.
Google Maps indicates a phantom road on the north side of the building, which it designates as Old Railbed Road. I suspect that it originally was a rail spur which connected to the rail line crossing the trestle connecting the Waccamaw Neck with the rest of the national rail grid, and would have been used to bring in supplies back in the day.
Well, the talk in the comments about Winn Dixie gives me an opening to post these pictures from North Charleston.
I forget exactly why I was in Charleston last this May, but I was struck by this run-down plaza on Rivers Avenue as I headed down into the peninsula. As you can see it was a rather gray day so the pictures aren't great, and I didn't stop to do a walkabout, but it just struck me as rather sad.
Notice that as in the Decker store the chain didn't even manage to get its branding off the building.
The Mayor's House was for many years at the South Litchfield Beach causeway and stoplight, across from Latte Litchfield and a bit north of The McKenzie Beach Motel. I would, in fact, give the location as "Litchfield" rather than "Pawleys Island", but the later designation is creeping steadily northward.
I always had the impression that The Mayor's House was a) "Too Fancy" and b) "Too Seafood" for me (what with the big pink shrimp and the Fried Lobster come-on), so I never got around to eating there despite liking the pier-like aspect of being built over a pond.
Looking for the address of the place did turn up an online review site which was decidedly... mixed. It did confirm my impression that it was probably too rich for my blood. I do wonder what happened to the shrimp though.
The House of Blues at (The bankrupt) Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach seems to make a policy of booking major "legacy" acts into its rather intimate space. In the past, I've seen Boz Scaggs, Cyndi Lauper, The Beach Boys (Carl Wilson was visibly failing), and Blondie there.
The only problem I have with the place is that while they have a reserved seating area, the tickets don't seem to be available on the standard web site, and standing up for two hours gets old pretty quick for me nowdays.
Steve Miller has, of course, been around forever, but scored his greatest success in the mid 70s with the "Fly Like an Eagle" and "Book of Dreams" albums. Supposedly he has never allowed a recognizable picture of himself on an album cover, and at the peak of his fame, could ride his bike around venue parking lots without being recognized. He has never had what you could call a "great" voice -- it's a very servicable reedy tenor, and the fact that it's never been perfect means that it hasn't dropped off much either: he was in good vocal form for Saturday's show. The Steve Miller Band is now apparently a six-man outfit. Two guitars, a bass, drums, keyboards and a (very flamboyant) second vocalist.
As you'll recall, when I saw The Doobie Brothers in North Charleston, and Al Stewart in Newberry, I was surprised at how lax the venues were about cameras. In the past it almost seemed like places would break your kneecaps before letting you in with a camera, but apprently, as in school, the Battle of the Cell Phone has been lost, and other cameras reap the benefit. Since I regretted not taking the closing-cam to those shows, I checked on the HOB ticketing site, and non-removable-lens cameras are allowed, so in it came.
The curtain opening number was "Jet Airliner" (with the synth prologue [mostly missed here] playing before the curtain dropped), and Miller went on to play pretty much all of his hits and well known songs: "Jet Airliner", "Abracadabera", "Wild Mountain Honey", "Serenade To The Stars", "Swingtown", "Dance Dance Dance", "Take The Money & Run", "Jungle Love", "Space Cowboy" (dedicated to William Shatner), "Livin' In The USA", "The Stake", "The Joker" (acoustic), and "Rockin' Me". He also played a few blues numbers (it was originally "The Steve Miller Blues Band") that really let the second vocalist shine.
In short, it was an excellent show, and if you get the opportunity to catch him, do.
Although there were Waldenbooks in Columbia, I believe the closest that parent company Borders Books ever got to Columbia was Augusta Georgia, where they had a store in a strip off the Bobby Jones Expressway, near the I-20 interchange.
I first encountered Borders in Kansas City Kansas, on Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park. There were actually two stores on Metcalfe, but one of them was almost adjacent to the US Sprint building where I worked a number of projects over the years. (This was also the first place where I encountered Macroni Grill, which to date is the only place I've been where the Matitre-D requested a bribe).
Since I would be staying in a hotel not too far away, I would generally repair to Borders after dinner with local and other visiting co-workers, and it was something of a wonderland for me. First of all, it was big. This was the early to mid 1990s, and there was nothing to compare with a Borders in Columbia, and even less so in Fayetteville NC where I was living at the time. There were rows on rows in the Science Fiction section, with a deep back-list, and books and authors I had only vaguely heard of, including lots of archival small-press selections from NESFA Press and other specialty publishers. The history section was awesome, including even lots of Loeb editions of classics in Latin (no, I don't read Latin [beyond 'cogito ergo sum'], but the English was on facing pages, and these were the *only* editions of a lot of these classical authors). I had been on the Internet, and doing network programming since 1985, but this was the time period when the World Wide Web was just starting to break to a mass audience, and the computer section was huge, with books on all the topics I would never see in Columbia or Fayetteville. I would always come home from Kansas with a suitcase-full of computer books, busting both my back and my budget, but I never regretted it.
Even beyond the books, the magazine section was huge, and had obscure SF magazines that had either never heard or or assumed long defunct, and titles from every dimly-lit corner of popular culture, including film & animation, music and all sorts of unclassifiable little niches. There was also a coffee-shop in the store, which was an innovation I had not seen elsewhere. At the time, I could drink lattes until store closing at 11pm and still be up for work in the morning, and with a table of books and magazines, I often did. (Unfortunately, I can't do that anymore..). Obviously, I wasn't there on a consistent enough basis to see much of the programmed activities apart from the merchandise, but I did get to see a presentation by George R. R. Martin (who I had long known about, but who was just starting to become famous at the time), and speak briefly with him.
In time, the assignments in Kansas got less frequent, but projects in DC got more so, and Borders was there too. In contrast to Kansas, I usually would not have a car in DC, but after work, I would often take the Metro to the Pentagon City stop, have supper at Chevy's Mexican and then spend the rest of the evening until 11pm across the hall at Borders. Once more, I often came home from DC with loads of computer books.
DC was where I first started to get the idea that all was not right in the Borders world. The store, which had always been open until 11pm, started closing at 10pm on week-nights, making it difficult for me to both have supper and visit. It also seemed to me that the quality of the computer section was declining a little bit.
Of course, there were other factors at play as well. At around the same time, Amazon really began to break big, and suddenly, I could have any book I knew about delivered directly to me in just a few days. All at once, I didn't have to visit a big city to get a big-city selection of books.
Borders dealt with the Internet *poorly*. They made their worst decision ever while I was living in Aiken and working in Augusta. At that time, when the local Borders opened, it didn't seem that special. Columbia had Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million by then, and Borders while still my preferred store, was no longer on a different quantum level from everything else I had access to. At the time, all brick-and-mortar stores were trying to figure out how to use the Internet, and Borders' idea (after initially trying an ill-thought-out web site of their own) was to get Amazon.Com to handle their online business. I remember being flabbergasted when I read this bit of news. The proper analogy is hard to come up with, but it's something like Target telling K-Mart: Sure we'll help you out. We'll put a little door on the side of our store over here with your logo on it, and if someone comes into our store by that door, we'll put your name on the register receipt, but our sales staff and stockers will take care of everything.
Needless to say, everybody coming to the Borders online store, and using the Amazon interface, search system, credit card support etc became acclimated to the Amazon environment and just started using the regular Amazon store..
To add to having a stupid Internet strategy, Borders was unable to come up with an e-reader strategy. Amazon, of course, has the Kindle, while B&N (and B-A-M) have the Nook. Borders had.. nothing. I believe that in the end they did latch onto a second-tier (but OK) e-reader, but by then it was way too late. To make matters worse, a large non-book portion of their stores had been devoted to CD's and DVDs, and the complete collapse of the CD market left them with way too much floor-space for the money the stores were bringing in.
It was clear for several years that the chain was on a downward spiral, and that even if they got access to new financing, they had no viable plan to actually use the money to make the stores profitable again. Last year, I believe, they stopped paying their book suppliers. They could sort of do that, as they were still an important market, and the vendors knew that if they pressed the issue too hard and pushed the chain over the brink, their distribution would be drastically cut. In the end though, there was no alternative. Following some last-minute drama about an offer that didn't quite come through, Borders went Chapter 11 on 16 February 2011, with the last gasp in July 2011. They had already been closing stores left and right, but now started closing them all, and plan to have them all shut by the end of this month (September 2011). The web site is still up as of this writing, and claims this is the final week with savings of up to 90% on whatever is left.
The two stores pictured are both in Florida. The first is on Tampa's Dale Mabry Highway, and is a nice location with picturesque moss draped oaks. The second is in Gainesville, just off of I-75 (and not too far from UF), in a larger strip. I'm not sure when these stores closed, but suspect it had already been several months by August. You can see that the second is taking refuge in that cure-all for closed big-box retailers: The Halloween Store.
In the meantime, the fate book retailing is still very much undecided. Both Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million have reduced their hours in Columbia, and I'm not sure that in the end anyone with a physical store can compete with Amazon.
UPDATE 1 December 2012: The Tampa borders above is to become a medical clinic as the pictures below that I took in August 2012 show, and as the linked article provided by commenter Andrew tells: