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Archive for July, 2008

Off To See The Mermaids ... and other stuff   5 comments

Posted at 5:55 pm in commentary,out-of-area

Well, Phase II of summer vacation starts today, and I'll be out of town for a good little while. I'll try to check things often enough to keep comment-spam to a minimum, and I've got some pictures for updates to various posts I may get around to uploading. I may possibly make a post or two, but realistically -- probably not! Feel free to chat amongst yourselves.

First-time visitors may want to check the alphabetical list of closings or the archives and categories on the right side of your screen.

Written by ted on July 18th, 2008

Heilig-Meyers Furniture Co / High Point Furniture Gallery, 4721 Forest Drive: 2006-ish   no comments

Posted at 5:51 pm in historic,stores

I'm pretty sure this place went under before the housing crash, so I guess there was something else going on there. A lot of places go out of business rather quietly, with just some sale signs, but High Point went all-out, with frentic sign-wavers up and down Forest Drive, a tactic that seems rather strange to me. After all, you either need furniture or you don't. It's not really an impulse buy in most cases. Of course I could be wrong since I'm a) not married and b) inherited most of my furniture in the first place.

At any rate, things seem to be happening on this stretch of Forest, so it will be interesting to see how long the place continues to stay vacant.

UPDATE 2 September 2009: It's now a Strobler Home Furnishings store.

UPDATE 8 January 2010: Added full street address to post title.

UPDATE 6 April 2011 -- It seems this store was a Heilig-Meyers before it was High Point. Helig-Meyers went under and closed all their stores in 2001. Here is their Bellsouth ad from the Feb 1997 phonebook:

Written by ted on July 18th, 2008

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Circuit City, 1950 Bush River Road: 1999   22 comments

Posted at 10:44 pm in historic,stores

I've written about Circuit City before. The gist of it was I never liked the store in its original concept because the salesmen were so predatory. This store dates from that era. Unlike the NorthEast store, this one (as far as I know) had only two locations rather than three. It started here, on Bush River right at the I-20 intersection and then picked up and moved out to Harbison when that area started to get hot.

Frankly that strikes me as a bad choice. This location is an easy-in/easy-out right from the Interstate, while nothing in the Harbison area is "easy". They may get more drive-by traffic there, but I'll bet they get less "destination" traffic.

Nothing else ever located in the Circuit City building after they left, but stores have come and gone from the surrounding strip mall. I believe there was an If It's Paper for a while and there has been a medical equipment tenant for many years now. I tried to shop there once for a hospital style "over-bed table" (they are *great* for using your laptop in bed!) but it turned out to be easier to order one on-line. Given the new traffic brought to Bush River Road by the new Wal-Mart Supercenter, it will be interesting to see what happens to this property.

UPDATE 11 March 2011: Changed closing date to 1999 based on commenter Andrew's research. Also added full street address.

UPDATE 4 June 2012 -- Not much visible has changed, but Hamrick's does have their building permit posted in the north doorway:

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UPDATE 24 June 2012 -- The Hamrick's signs are now up:

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UPDATE 20 August 2012 -- Hamrick's is now open in this location:

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Written by ted on July 17th, 2008

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J. B. White (White's), Richland Mall, Dutch Square: 20 September 1998   101 comments

Posted at 6:59 pm in historic,stores

The Dutch Square White's from the Bush River Road side:

The Dutch Square White's from the theater side:

The Dutch Square White's from the Dutch Square Boulevard side:

White's in the original Richland Mall:

The (second) Richland Mall White's from the Beltline Boulevard side:

The downstairs interior entrance to the Richland Mall White's from the "Parisian" side:

The upstairs interior entrance to the Richland Mall White's from the Barnes & Noble side:

White's as J. B. White was known to us was the department store we most often shopped at when I was small. This may have been due as much to the location as anthing else as White's was in nearby Richland Mall, both closer and easier to park at than Main Street. Whatever the reason, White's was always on the docket when it became time to "buy clothes". Mind you, when I was a boy, I hated "buying clothes" with a white-hot passion, and must have been a real trial for my mother to shop for; even now, I tend to buy 5 of the same pairs of pants or 10 of the same shirts if I know they fit so I won't have to do it again any time soon.

Despite hating clothes shopping, I liked White's. I think part of the reason was that the store, at least at Richland Mall, seemed rather mysterious to me. If I recall the layout correctly, there were doors on all four sides of the store (3 into the parking lot, and one into the mall's open air corridors) and the centrally placed escalators made it impossible to see from one side of the store to the other, so it was easy (for a kid) to become confused about exactly where you were. The escalators were somewhat mysterious and exciting in themselves. By today's standards they were very narrow, so you could stiff-arm your self up off your feet between the two rails and pretend that you were on some sort of space conveyor-belt, and when you got to the top, you had to walk around to the other side to come back down, so it was kind of confusing as well. The most mysterious aspect of the store though was the PA. In those days, I suppose there would not have been a phone at every service desk, and important announcements were communicated to the staff in code. And not just innocuous phrases that the customers would miss, but real numeric spy code! And the code would always be over-ennunciated by a melodious female voice: Fiiiiive-NiiiEeen, Fiiive-NiiiEeen!. It was sort of like I imagined announcements on Trantor would be.

Aside from clothes (which as I said, I hated), the merchandise at White's was a mixed bag. As I recall, they had no heavy electronics or appliances, but they did have cookware and small kitchen appliances upstairs. I liked that because it was "sort of" like hardware. They also had a small book department upstairs which I guess had bestsellers, but more importantly to me, remainders. I remember specifically finding the last Tom Swift, Jr. book there. Unfortunately, The Galaxy Ghosts had apparently been written by an entirely different team than the rest of the series, violated continuity and the characters, and wasn't very good.

If I haven't said anything about the Dutch Square store yet, that's partly because we went there less often, and partly because it was about the same, but less interesting. By the time it was built, the chain had dropped the code-talk, and its escalators were the modern width and harder to play on. (For that matter, by that time, I would have been getting self conscious about doing stuff like that). Its building is still standing however. The original Richland Mall store was razed during the ill-fated conversion to an enclosed Richland Fashion Mall, and a new one was built in the middle of the oddly shaped new space. Some time after the chain was sold in 1998, both the Richland Mall store and the Dutch Square store became "Belk's" locations. I was a bit disgruntled because as an adult I had come to rely on White's as a source for clothes that I considered looked "OK", and Belk's had a slightly different mix (no Arrow shirts, in particular).

As a side note, since we didn't travel much growing up, and I never saw a White's in the places we did go, I always assumed it was a Columbia chain like Tapp's, but when I started working in Augusta in the mid 90s, there were several there (which became, if I recall correctly, Dillard's instead of Belks).

UPDATE 20 Aug 08: The White's store at Richland mall was not torn down, and is in fact the same building housing the current Belk's and still has the skinny escalators. I think memory played me false because Whites was at the end of the original mall, and I was mentally assuming that the current end of the mall (Black Lion) was the same geographic spot.

UPDATE 14 March 2011: Updated closing date in the post title to 20 September 1998 based on commenter Andrew's research.

UPDATE 17 May 2011 -- I've mentioned it in the comments, but the closed off (except for salon and restrooms) third floor of the Dutch Square building is sort of spooky:

UPDATE 21 June 2011: Added a vintage shot of White's in old Richland Mall from a Chamber of Commerce promotional book.

Birkenstock Store, Trenholm Plaza: July 2008   1 comment

Posted at 4:21 pm in stores

There's a classic cartoon panel from the 70s. The setting is a doctors office. A female patient is sitting on the table and the (male, which rather dates the cartoon) doctor tells her:

I'm sorry Ms Johnson, but we're all out of birth control pills, please wear these Birkenstocks instead.

Whether the shoes got better looking, or men just don't look down that far, the brand is still around.

It's not around Trenholm Plaza anymore though. I don't know if the ongoing renovations cut traffic, or if they had decided to decamp before that, but I noticed when I went to Starbucks the other day that the Birkenstock store was gone.

I wonder what the deal with the palm tree in back was?

Written by ted on July 15th, 2008

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Open Air Market, Two Notch Road: Early 2000s   10 comments

Posted at 12:24 pm in historic,stores

For years, there were two open-air markets in the Northeast. One of them was on Decker Boulevard near the intersection with Percival Road. I think it might have been at about the location of the current O-Bok Korean restaurant -- at any rate it was on that side of the road and near there.

The other was this one on Two Notch Road, across from what is now (but was not, I think, then) the IHOP. Both markets had lots of produce, but I always remember thinking that this one was a bit of an odder duck as it also had a component which was close to a convienience store. There was no front wall to the place, and if I recall correctly, the produce was under a simple shed-like structure, a tin roof supported by beams. The back part of the store however was a 3-sided concrete box. I seem to recall that they had A/C despite the fact that there was no door, and they sold groceries and sundries so you could get your produce out front and then get your bread and milk "inside". I didn't stop there often, but every time I did, I recall thinking how odd the place was.

I believe the market on Decker closed first, probably sometime in the late 80s. This one lasted quite a bit longer and never "closed" as such. Instead, sometime in the early 2000s, the whole place burned down and all that's left now is the concrete slab it was built on, some flower pots against the back fence, assorted junk (which may or may not be remains of the store) and the skeleton of their sign. It seems as though this would be a nice property, with easy acces from both Trenhom and Two Notch, and right across from Home Depot, but after 10 years or so the property remains vacant.

I think there's currently some kind of open-air market further out on Two Notch near Big Lots, but that appears to be based on awnings rather than a permanent structure.

Note: I originally dated this closing as "1990s". Commenter JP plausibly dates it to this millennium so I have changed the date.

Written by ted on July 14th, 2008

OfficeMax, 607 Bush River Road: 2006   12 comments

Posted at 6:52 pm in historic,stores

OfficeMax was the odd man out in the Office Depot/Staples rivalry. It was a perfectly fine office supply store, but apparently, at least in the South Carolina market, there wasn't room for all three chains, and OfficeMax started shuttering its local stores. The chain does continue on in other markets.

Wikipedia says that at one time OfficeMax was owned by K-Mart, which perhaps explains the location of this store in the K-Mart parking lot at the intersection of Dutch Square Boulevard and Bush River Road. I shopped at this location a number of times for non-descript stuff. I do remember when they had their going-out-of-business sale, that I picked up a good deal on a paper shredder.

Given the current state of K-Mart, I suppose the drama of this location is not What will go into the OfficeMax location?, but Will this K-Mart survive?. Given the recent opening of a super Wal-Mart a few blocks down the street, I'd have to say that's questionable.

UPDATE 30 April 2009:

It's now the Columbia Campus for Remington College:

UPDATE 11 March 2011: Update the closing date based on comments here. Also added full street address.

Written by ted on July 11th, 2008

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Putt-Putt Fun Center, 105 Sparkleberry Lane (near Clemson Road): 2007   23 comments

Posted at 5:02 pm in attraction,historic

Well it seems I always get around to taking pictures of Putt-Putt locations too late. This location on Clemson Road only lasted a few years, and was completely torn up before I got around to going out there.

If I recall correctly, they had a go-kart track which was out in the area with the fire-extinguishers on the light poles. I'm not entirely sure, but I believe the actual "building" part of the "fun center" might still be standing. There is a building in the back of the area which now seems to be a welding school, but the shape of the back of it makes me think it might have been designed for a lot of in-and-out traffic to the golf course and race track.

It looks like we are to get another Interstate hotel here, which is kind of a shame, as Columbia has lots of hotels, but at this point, no minature golf courses. Or am I wrong about that? Come to think about it, the only actual working "Putt Putt" brand course I can think of is this one at the base of Atlantic Avenue in Fernandina Beach:

UPDATE 25 June 2010: Added full street address to post title. The place was actualy officially on Sparkleberry Lane, not Clemson Road as I had thought.

UPDATE 19 March 2013: Well, for whatever reason, the Wingate Inn never happened, and now, 5 years later, the parcel is still for sale:

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Written by ted on July 10th, 2008

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Dutch Square Theater, Dutch Square: 1990s   22 comments

Posted at 4:30 pm in historic,stores

Too late to get a picture of this place I'm afraid. The original Dutch Square Theater was a twin-plex set against the far back corner of the Dutch Square parking lot. I believe it opened more or less at the same time the original Dutch Square mall did, and there was nothing particularly distinctive about it. It ran standard, first-run movies, and sold the standard theater food items at standard (high!) theater food prices. Since the place was on the other side of town from where I lived, it was not one of my regular movie spots, though I did see a number of shows there over the years.

It does have the distinction of being the only theater I've ever walked out on a movie at. The year was 1987, and my sister and a friend of hers were going to see Light of Day with Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett and asked if I wanted to tag along. Well, I knew nothing about the film, but I was of course familiar with Michael J. Fox and his classic "Marty" films, and I enjoyed Joan Jett's music, and had heard she was quite the character in real life, so I was expecting some kind of rock-and-roll comedy. Um, no. What I got instead was the most depressing drama I had ever had the misfortune to view. After about half an hour, I muttered something like "see y'all after the show" to my sister and walked out. Seeing the sunshine again was like having a leaden weight lifted off of me, and I spent a happy hour and a half just bumming around Dutch Square.

Not too long after that, Tapps closed, and Dutch Square's decline accelerated finally leading to re-development, complete with a new AMC 14 screen multiplex. Thus obsoleted, the original Dutch Square Theater was torn down, and now a Ruby Tuesday operates in the same location. And all the Ruby Tuesday training videos I've seen played in their stores are better than "Light of Day.

UPDATE 13 September 2009: Added theater ad from The State 15 April 1973.

Written by ted on July 9th, 2008

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Sounds Familiar, 422 Bush River Road: Early 2000s   19 comments

Posted at 1:50 pm in historic,stores

At one time, Sounds Familiar had quite a little record store empire. They had locations on Parklane, Garners Ferry, Colonial Life Boulevard, Harbison and in Myrtle Beach. There was a period of time when I really liked to go to their stores (especially the Myrtle Beach store) becase they had lots of interesting "import" CDs. (And if you don't understand the difference between import CDs and "import" CDs, I'm not going to explain it here.). They also had a very good selection of Beach Music LPs and CDs as well as a nice stock of used recordings.

Unfortunately, the industry began to change radically as first CD duplication technology and tnen Internet downloads began to take off. All record stores were hard hit and Sounds Familiar was no exception. I believe the Myrtle Beach store was the first to close, followed (I think) by this one and then the one on Harbison. In the case of this store, it can't have helped that it was just across the street from the larger and more esoteric Manifest location in Boozer Plaza.

The locations on Parklane and near Garners Ferry continue to soldier own. I was in the Garners Ferry location last week, and it appeared to be doing OK, if not great, but the last time I went by Parklane, it seemed to me that half of the floor space was just empty.

The state of the record store industry is one of those things I'm ambivalent about. I hate to see places where I found a lot of great music close, but on the other hand, I'm not going to stop ordering music online either.

UPDATE 28 June 2012: It turns out that this strip mall is actually listed as 422 Bush River Road rather than having a Colonial Life Boulevard address. I have updated the post title to include the correct street address. I should also mention that all Sounds Familiar locations have now closed (and can be found in the alphabetical closings list).

Written by ted on July 8th, 2008

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