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Archive for April, 2008

Thoroughbred Motel, 3411 Two Notch Rd: Early 2000s   21 comments

Posted at 4:30 pm in historic,stores

One thing to remember about Two Notch Road is that is is also US Highway-1, and that at one time that meant a good bit. Back before Interstates, US-1 carried a lot of the national North/South traffic, and many of those travellers needed some place to sleep. For them, Columbia seemed like a logical place to stop, and Two Notch Road still has a number of the motels that were built for them to park their cars and rest their heads.

It doesn't still have them all, of course. I remember two in particular that are now gone. Dreamland Motel once stood where the Lowes on Two Notch now stands. Since we lived in town, we never stayed there of course, but after long-haul traffic on US-1 started dying down, they decided to earn some some extra money (or perhaps it was just goodwill) by having Red-Cross approved swimming lessons taught in the summer at their pool. I figure that between there and the pool at my cousins' country club, I must have taken Red Cross "Advanced Beginners" four times. My mother would drop my sister and me off at Dreamland for the lesson and go run errands. At least she did the first time, but it developed that for some reason my sister completely refused to get in the pool (and she was a stubborn kid) so I may have finished the lessons there alone. After that, the place was torn down to put up the Spring Valley Theaters. The other motel I recall was the Chat 'n' Rest at the corner of Two Notch and Forest Drive at Providence Hospital. We never had swim lessons there, and in fact never set foot on the property, but I always used to think, riding by, how friendly the name sounded. You might almost imagine the place had a screen porch with rockers.

There are a number of these US-1 motels still hanging in on Two Notch, and I'm sure they are all perfectly legitimate places and I'm not at all saying anything libelous about them. However, as the US-1 traffic died off, and as newer motels were built at all the Interstate exits, you started to read things in the paper and observe things driving down Two Notch at night that might lead you to believe that some of the motels on Two Notch might perhaps rent their rooms on a basis more hourly than daily, and I'm afraid to say that it's in my mind that The Thoroughbred Motel might have been one of those. Whatever the basis of its operation, it finally folded a few years ago, and I can't imagine that whoever buys the property will leave it standing, classic sheetmetal horseheads or no.

UPDATE: Be sure to read the comments. I was wrong and Throughbred was an absolutely legit, family, place!

my grandmother was very proud to run a family motel she would not tolerlate the “working girl’s” walking on her parking lot or let them use her Motel and would chase them across the street

UPDATE 28 Feb 09:

Well, lots of changes here. First, on 29 Jan 2009, we see the place marked off with danger tape:

(By the way -- Note the horse-theme wallpaper inside the office!)

Then on 13 Feb 2009, demolition is well underway:

Finally by 25 Feb 2009 (when I got back into town after a trip), the whole place is gone:

UPDATE 31 March 2009: Added the Yellow Pages ad from the 1970 Southern Bell phonebook.

Written by ted on April 10th, 2008

Food Lion Store #719, 2300 Taylor Street: Late 2005   12 comments

Posted at 3:58 pm in stores

I noticed the other day that this Food Lion on Taylor Street just above Two Notch is closed. I know that Benedict has been doing a lot the last few years to try and upgrade the area a bit (the new sports stadium on Two Notch being the biggest part of this), and it's unclear (to me) if this closing reflects a success or failure. The sign in the window is a bit ambiguous, but it seems to tilt towards this being an upfit for this Food Lion location (and Food Lion has been doing some nice work remodelling their older stores). On the other hand, going businesses tend to bend over backwards to stay open during remodelling (I'm pretty sure the Pawleys Island Food Lion was open during the course of its remodelling), and there's no sign in the window to the effect of "Pardon our Progress!" or "Changing to Serve You Better!", so we'll see.

UPDATE 28 Jan 2010: The place is now "Allen University Mall", so not Benedict at all. Also, added the street address to the post title.

UPDATE 17 March 2010 -- Here's a picture after the remodel:

UPDATE 20 Oct 2010: Added "Store #719" to post title.

UPDATE 9 March 2011: Changed closing date based on discussion in the comments.

Written by ted on April 8th, 2008

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Red Wing Rollerway, 2632 Decker Blvd: April 2008 (for sale), Sep 2008 (closed)   79 comments

Posted at 6:20 pm in stores

Red Wing Rollerway is on Decker Blvd adjoining and behind Zorba's and the old "Aloha/Los Alazanes" restaurant. I'll admit that I've never been inside. In fact, I haven't put on a pair of skates since about 1979, which wasn't too long after I finally figured out how they worked. We used to skate on the road at home, and I could figure out how to roll down the hill, but the actual "make progress on level ground" part of skating took me another decade to figure out. Timing-wise, I just missed the "skate-key" era on one side, and the roller-blade era on the other. (We seem to be into the "Wheelie" era now..)

You have to love the Red Wing sign. Yes, it could use a little maintanence, especially on the North side, but it really speaks to a vanished design aesthetic that I really like. If someone did one like that now, it would be self-conscious and "retro".

For now, it appears that the place is still open for business while it is for sale. While I was taking these pictures, I saw a pickup deliver some sort of arcade game or pinball machine, and several people were in and out the front doors. I hope that if someone does buy it, they keep it open. It's not like Decker needs another strip mall..

UPDATE 2 October 2008:

Well, it's official, Red Wing Rollerway is gone. I noticed the Sold sign last week and interior demolition is already underway.

I stopped by today, and the folks working on gutting the place were kind enough to let me go in (the first time I'd been inside) and take some pictures. They did not know what the building was going to be used for, but didn't think it would be torn down. It was kind of surreal seeing those two disco-balls sitting down on the floor like that. If you keep watch on the dumpsters you could probably latch on to one. I think somebody alread scored the skates pictured..

UPDATE 31 March 2009:

Well, the Redwing building is open again as KNC Trading one of those companies you see but that you're never sure exactly just what it is that they do. They've preserved about as much of the Redwing sign as we could reasonably expect (probably because since they don't do retail business, a spiffy new sign to lure customers is a useless expense).

UPDATE 13 July 2009: If you enjoyed this blog post, you may be interested that some of the images are available from the Columbia Closings web store.

Written by ted on April 7th, 2008

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The Plant Barn, Spring Court (off Two Notch): mid 1990s   4 comments

Posted at 10:21 pm in historic,stores

Two Notch is an interesting road. Even though parts of it are pretty industrial or heavy retail, there are still all sorts of odd little residential areas and one-off businesses. The Plant Barn (on Spring Ct. ,in between Pinestraw Road and Arcadia Lakes Drive) was one of them.

I can't say much about The Plant Barn as I'm not much of a plant person. My mother was, and I think she went there sometimes, but she never took me (I certainly would not have volunteered). I do know that for years I saw the sign on Two Notch and thought "maybe I'll turn down that road someday", but never did while it was still in business. About ten years ago, they put a little note up on their sign to the effect that they appreciated everyone's business, but were closing down.

Spring Ct. is just a spur off of Two Notch and doesn't go through to anything, but I found the other interesting business there entirely by chance and from the other side. Growing up, since I never could seem to get to sleep at night, I was very aware of the train tracks that ran between Two Notch and Formosa Drive. Trains would come through late every night with a lot of click-clacking and horn blowing. Furthermore, the "cliff" the tracks ran by had the only cave I was ever aware of in the Columbia area. Years later, on a really nice Spring day, I decided to walk the tracks from Arcadia Lake Drive to Satchelford Road. It was an interesting experience, seeing the back side of everything, including a very odd set of buildings I couldn't figure out. It turns out there's a bait farm (Springdale Bait Farm) on Spring Ct, right off of Two Notch. Who knew?

Written by ted on April 6th, 2008

Shakey's Pizza Parlor / Godfather's Pizza, 7047 Parklane Road (Columbia Mall outparcel): 1990s(?)   20 comments

Posted at 6:42 pm in historic,restaurants

Godfather's was in a little strip mall off of Parklane on the one side, and the Columbia Mall perimeter road on the other side. My memory says that the same building (I'm unsure if it were the same suite) was at one time home to Shakey's Pizza Parlor, the first pizza restaurant I can remember in Columbia at all.. I think I recall going to Shakey's once or twice. They must have had pizza, but all I can remember is that they were showing silent-movie comedies in the rear of the store (and I'm not even 100% I remember that -- I may be remembering something I heard later -- it was a long time ago).

Pizza was a fairly exotic dish when I was a kid. My first experience with pizza, if you could call it that, came at Satchelford Elementary School, where from time to time, the cafeteria food line featured "pizza pie". This was a pie shell filled with gound beef and topped with melted cheddar cheese and it distorted my perceptions of pizza for years just as their "submarine sandwich" (a rectangular cut piece of bologna and a piece of pre-sliced American cheese cut into two rectangles all in a hotdog bun) turned me off on "subs" for years.

Later we discovered Chef Boyardee's frozen cheeze pizza and pizza mix (he must know pizza, he's French!) which was actually a step up as was Pizza Hut (though I feel they have cheapened their brand).

By the time I became aware of Godfather's, I was pretty much a Pizza Hut snob, and the few times I ate there, I didn't like the pizza much at all (I don't think this was all callow youth, I had the same opinion years later in Myrtle Beach). Furthermore, if I recall correctly, Godfather's was one of those order-at-the-counter places and I have always preferred ordering from a menu at the table. Be that as it may, I don't know exactly how Godfather's got into trouble, but suddenly it seemed there were a lot fewer of them. I think the one at the beach outlasted this one, but it's gone now too. I did a web search and there are actually a few left in SC, but not in places I go.

If you look at the second picture, you'll see lots of plastic bins inside the former Godfather's. The labels didn't come out well in the picture, but they all say things like "leak #8". I take that to mean that on some very small level at least, someone still cares what happens to the building though it's been vacant so many years now that I don't see much future for a business there.

Unless someone makes them an offer they can't refuse.

UPDATE 30 July 2010: Added Shakey's to the post title as well as the full street address.

Written by ted on April 4th, 2008

Circuit City, Columbia Mall area: 1980s/2000s   8 comments

Posted at 4:14 pm in historic,stores

When Circuit City came to town, their first location (as I recall it anyway) was on Two Notch Road, by the first Columbia Mall entrance. I didn't go there very often because, in short, I had no money at the time. I also found that the salesmen, who worked on commission, were rather predatory, and it was hard to get a close look at anything without one swooping down. In the late 80s or maybe the early 90s, they changed their corporate direction to be a "big box" player, and moved out of their original store (which now houses Wes Bolick bedrooms) and around the corner, so to speak, into a large store at Capitol Centre.

By this time, I had a real job, and a little money, so I would go browsing a bit more often. They always seemed to have a lot of interesting electronics (and appliances, which didn't really seem to fit with the rest of their concept). I found that if I stayed away from the TVs and large stereo systems, I could generally look unmolested by staff, but that checkout was now a big pain. At one time, Radio Shack had the most annoying checkout experience in electronics retail, belying their supposed tech savy by writing everything down on a pad by hand and running a total with a calculator and then nosing about your phone number and address. After Radio Shack reformed, Circuit City seemed to take up some of their nosiness, and I recall on a day when I was in a bad mood anyway, and just wanted to pay cash for a $10 tape for data backup that I rebelled when they started digging for all my personal data, and ended up boycotting the chain for about 5 years.

In that interval, they fell upon hard times. I think part of it was the DIVX debacle. Back when it was clear that technology was advancing to the point that VHS would be obsolete and that the next medium for distributing movies to retail would be some sort of CD sized disc, there were two contenders. One of these was, of course, DVD, and the other was DIVX (which has nothing to do with the current video codec called DivX, btw). The difference between the two formats (from a consumer perspective) was that DVD was "forever" while DIVX discs could only be played for a limited time period before expiring (making each purchase essentially a rental). Circuit city backed DIVX in a big way, and apparently shaded the truth in a lot of their sales-floor pitch, earning a lot of consumer bad-will.

In the meantime, Best Buy was challenging them with even bigger stores and more tech choices, and they have never completely recovered. None of that, I suppose, has anything to do with the move of this particular store from Capitol Centre to their current location out on Two Notch near Sandhills -- that was just the combination of the decline of Capitol Centre and the general flight from the Columbia Mall/Decker Blvd area out towards the north-east. (Once again, we can see that it wasn't lack of parking that did it.. :-) I ended my boycot years ago, and have been in their new store a number of times. It seems to me that Best Buy is still better at computer stuff (though neither compares to the late, lamented CompUSA in that regard), but that Circuit City is better than it was. Certainly they seem to have done away with commissions and you can generally browse more comfortably now, and the last time I bought something, they didn't ask for my phone number at all.

Written by ted on April 2nd, 2008

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Forest Lake TV, 4831 Forest Drive / 4231 Bethel Church Road / 3538 Covenant Road: 2007 (?)   14 comments

Posted at 6:56 pm in historic,stores

Doing the post on Forest Lake Park made me think of Forest Lake TV.

Why? Because the original (as far as I know) location for Forest Lake TV was in the Forest Lake Shopping Center, directly across from the park:

You can still see the stenciling for "Forest Lake TV" across the top edge of the building, though there is now a frame shop in the location. Back in the 60s and early 70s, this was the place we called whenever one of our TVs was acting up. In the case of our floor model (a large 25-inch) black & white behemoth, they would make a house call, fix it there if they could, or otherwise cart it back to the shop. In the case of our 12-inch black & white portable (purchased after I assured my mother that I could fix the big tv -- I "fixed" it all right..), we would cart it to the shop ourselves. In some cases, when the fix was more than just changing a tube (kids, these were like incandescent light bulbs inside your tvs and radios! :-), the set might sit for weeks at the shop awaiting parts. This always seemed unreasonable to me (a kid missing all his shows..) but my parents seemed to feel the guys there knew what they were doing. I think we called them a few times after getting our color TV, but gradually it seemed that TVs were something you didn't fix. New sets were full of more integrated circuits and fewer components that could be swapped out one by one (to be fair, new sets were generally more reliable from the get-go as well).

I think this trend hurt Forest Lake TV, and sometime in the 70s or 80s, they moved to a location I considered a bit more out of the way and a little downscale, a site on Covenant Road near Trenholm park:

In this case as well, you can still see the stenciling for "Forest Lake TV" if you look hard. I think they had also added "and VCRs" at this time as well. I was living out of town by this point, so I never brought anything to them, and I'm pretty sure I would have heard if my sister or parents did, but I would drive by from time to time, see that they were still open and think "that's nice".

Sometime after that, they moved again, just a little ways down Covenant to a place that struck me as a bit more downscale still:

I'm guessing from the "Y2K" (remember that?) signage in the window, that this would have been the late 90s. After that, well, VCRs got so cheap that nobody ever had them repaired, and I don't think DVD players were even considered fixable. Sometime in 2006, I think, I was back in town, and the old color TV finally blew. I debated whether it was worth having fixed (it was about a 1978 model..) and called Forest Lake TV to see what it would take. I got an answering machine with a Mexican accent, so I'm guessing the place changed hands at or before the final move. I never followed up on it because I started moving my stuff back into town and just set up my TV from Aiken, and by the time I considered it again, TV technology was clearly changing too quickly to even consider fixing the old set.

Out of curiosity, I did call the number on the sign after taking the picture a few days ago, and it's been disconnected, so I guess the place's 40 year history has come to a close..

UPDATE 3 Feb 2009:

When I drove by the Forest Lake TV building today on my way to Moe's, there was a crowd gathered outside. I turned around and went back to see what was going on. The whole side of the parking lot was littered with VCRs, TVS, cassette decks, tuners amplifiers, vaccum tubes -- the works, and a crowd of people had gathered to rummage through the detritus.

I talked with one guy who seemed to be in charge of the building, and he said that the rent had been unpaid since last May and they finally got the OK from the Sherrif to clean out the building and throw everything to the curb. He expressed some amazement as to the sheer amount of equipment stored in the space and said it took several hours just to get all of it out and that there had been much more before people started picking through it (which he was encouraging). There were even enough large screen TVs to cordon off most of the parking lot to keep traffic from getting out of hand.

UPDATE 7 July 2010: Added two more pictures of the second location exterior above. For the record, the second building is not on Covenant Road as I said above, but on Bethel Church Road (and I have updated the post title to that effect), and is in fact, the old Ravenwood Pharmacy building. Also, it appears someone (perhaps the church next door?) is now using the end of the pharmacy building closest to Dollar General for storage:

Written by ted on April 1st, 2008

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