Archive for February, 2009
I suppose I shouldn't do two Eckerd Drugs posts so close together, but writing about the one on Taylor Street made me think about the one at Dutch Square, and I already had the pix, so why not?
The Eckerd's at Dutch Square is the only Eckerd's I know of which had a lunch counter. Even at the time Dutch Square was built in the early 70s, drugstore lunch counters were on the way out, but I suppose they figured they had a captive audience and plenty of foot traffic, like an old downtown, plus there was no food court at the time (I believe Chik-Fil-A, Annabelle's and a cafeteria were the only restaurants in the mall).
The layout of this store was a bit unusual. I have taken the pictures catty-cornered because that was the way the store was oriented. You can see that the current tenant, The Dress Barn has an entrance on both the main up-and-down corridor of the mall and on the cross corridor leading to a mall entrance on the Dutch Square Boulevard side of the mall. So did Eckerd's, with the lunch counter being situated crossways such that if you walked in through the main corridor entrance and out through the cross corridor entrance, you would have walked across the whole lunch counter space parallel to the counter.
Between the lunch counter area and the main store proper, there was a silver turnstile which only allowed passage in not out, which I always considered an unfriendly touch, but I suppose it helped with shoplifting since there was no store checkout on the lunch counter side (the store entrance with registers was on the cross-corridor near the mall door).
There was also an Eckerd's in Columbia Mall, and I'm unsure which store packed it in first, but I'm pretty sure the Dutch Square one did not make it out of the 1990s.
Well, that was a bit sooner than I had expected. For some reason, I was thinking that the Sounds Familiar flagship store on Rosewood was staying open through February, but when I went over there on the 26th, the place was already closed and emptied out. I've written about Sounds Familiar before, here and here. I guess over the years, I was in this store the most, though the Myrtle Beach store was probably my favorite. The last thing I specifically recall buying here was the ABBA Gold greatest hits collection sometime last summer -- used. I know I bought a good bit of beach music here including some ripete LPs, (For the longest time, that was the only way to get Lamont Dozier's Cool Me out though it is finally on CD now), and some interesting "import" CDs (though they basically stopped carrying those in later years).
The counter "podium" was an interesting feature of this store. The area where the registers, CD players and computers were was raised about a foot off the store floor on a wooden platform which is still there. The only reason I can think of for doing such a thing is so the staff could keep an eagle eye out for "shrinkage", but the effect was such that when you picked out your CDs, it was like approaching the throne: Oh please, your majesties couldst thou smilest down on me that I might purchase these graven disks of recorded sounds?
I haven't checked out the place being advertised in the window signs, and am not sure what the connection with Sounds Familiar is, if any. At any rate, the closing of this store marks the end of a local success story (20+ years is a pretty good run!), and puts us one step closer to the end of the "music store" era.
From what I understand, Eckerd was long an arm of J. C. Penny, which was looking to dump the thing for years before it was able to. That notwithstanding, Eckerd went on a building spree in Columbia a few years before the chain was finally taken over by Rite-Aid.
This included building a number of new stores which went under even before the take-over was in the works, and this building, at 1720 Taylor Street (between the train tracks and the old Big-T) was one of them. My memory is that it closed down almost as soon as it opened, though that may be something of an exaggeration. I'm not sure if it was caught in the chain's problems, or just not a viable location. Dollar General proves retail can work in that spot, but Eckerd's was a bit pricier.
UPDATE 15 May 2011: Changed closing date in post title to April 2000 based on commenter Andrew's research.
Go here for a substantial update. (it's not good news..)
If you've been clicking through to the high-res pictures lately (and assuming your browser doesn't auto-scale them into medium-res), you'll have noticed that they are a lot bigger. That's because I've been using the Lumix LX3 I gave myself for Christmas as the new closing-cam.
The original closing-cam was a Kodak DX3600. My memory says that I bought it on New Years Day 2008, but the photographic record says that, as usual, my memory for dates if off. At any rate I'm sure that I bought it at the antiques mall on Centre Street in Fernandina Beach FL where the old down-town grocery store used to be. I've picked up antique cameras and parts there several times, as well as books, postcards and other what-nots, so when I saw a digital camera for $14.99, how could I resist -- I mean, come on, an antique digital camera!
I went to the Kodak web site and downloaded a PDF of the manual, put in some batteries, and found it ready to go. I'm guessing what happened was that the original owner lost the software somehow or other and found himself with no way to download his pictures (ther was no flash card when I bought it, just the camera built-in memory). I would have had no use for the software anyway as I don't run Windows, but I installed Gnu Photo which recognized the camera immediately, and I was good to go.
At 2.2MP, the resolution wasn't great by modern standards, but I was very happy with the camera, and it performed yeoman's duty for this blog, and in general, including lots of shots it wasn't really designed for, like the avaiable light shots I did at the 2008 State Fair. Unfortunately, it took a spill off the dresser one evening, and was a little flaky after that, culminating in total failure on a trip to Monkey Business indoor amusement park in Lexington on 31 Janurary 2009.
I'm quite happy with the new Lumix, though I still haven't actually read the manual to figure out all the functionality I'm not using yet, but I can hardly say I didn't get my $14.00 worth out of the original closing-cam. Sic transit gloria mundi.
The picture isn't very good because the sun was against me, but Jack's was a local shoe store on Sunnyside Drive (which is a side street off of Forest Drive, just past Richland Mall heading towards town). The site is now either Miyo's or Leapin' Lizards -- I can't recall exactly which space it was. Growing up, we shopped for shoes in a number of places, including Gerber's at Trenholm Plaza and the shoe departments at Sears and other department stores, but I think Jack's is where we most often ended up.
I remember in particular, that Jack's was the place I got my first pair of Sebago Docksides, a shoe so comfortable that I have worn them ever since and that would be over 30 years now. In fact, that was about the only place in town I could find them. Now I either have to get them in Charleston, or order them from amazon.com (which is OK since my feet stay the same size now).
Hops is a brew-pub chain which underwent a near death experience in the early 2000s. The chain was bought by the same owners who took over another near-to-dead chain, Don Pablo's, but both Columbia locations closed, and in fact, I don't believe there are any Hops left in South Carolina.
Curiously enough, though I ate at this Hops a number of times, I never did try the beer. My father, sister and I used to stop for Sunday lunch from time to time, and I recall the food as pretty good. They had the standard list of burgers as well as chicken and pasta, but their "branding" item (aside from beer, of course) was the croissant. They would bring out a plate of criossants almost as soon as you sat down, and though I don't know what a Frenchman would make of them, they were warm from the oven and drizzled with frosting and I found them quite good.
I always meant to try the beer some time, but beer doesn't really fit into my meal routine. I like un-sweet ice tea with my food (lots of it actually), not beer (nor soft drinks for that matter though I did notice that they actually had in-house brewed root-beer as well as regular beer).
I think cold closings are more the rule for restaurants than the exception. For every one where the owner announces that he's retiring and gives you notice to come in before its too late, there are ten where you show up one day and the place is empty. That's how it was for Hops.
The place was empty for a while, then Hooters moved in, and as far as I can tell, is doing a good business (though that's what I thought about Hops as well).
Walking through The Russell House this fall, I was struck, looking at the Russell House Theater coming attractions, how much the place had changed in focus.
When I was at USC, from 1980 through 1985, the theater was mainly a classics house. Sunday through Thursday, they would play a different film every night, and I probably averaged three or four movies a week, and ones I probably never would have seen otherwise. In particular, I recall Lost Horizon, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Lolita, The Pound, Cinderella Liberty, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, Double Indemnity, Farewell, My Lovely, The Magic Christian, Singin' In The Rain, Citizen Kane, The Philidelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby, Sahara, Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Captain Blood, The Private Lives of Elizabeth & Essex, Kiss Me Deadly, The Man With the X-Ray Eyes, The In-Laws, Stagecoach, Rio Bravo, The Quiet Man, The African Queen, Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, The Lady Vanishes, The 39 Steps, The Birds, The General, Intolerance, Wings, Advise & Consent, and The Best Years of Our Lives -- to name a few!
I was a bit disheartened that as far as I could see from looking at the lobby placards, the theater is apparently no longer functioning as an exposure to cinema, but more as a second run dollar theather. Granted anyone who wants can always rent or buy all the pictures I saw, but there's still something about sitting in a theater with a bunch of people and a good movie, or a fun movie, and there's something about serendipity -- sitting down to a movie you never heard of because it's just a buck, and it beats studying and finding against the odds that its something you'll remember for the rest of your life..
Touch of India, 14 Diamond Lane (Intersection Center) / 1321 Garner Lane: 2008 (moved) / 14 March 2010 5 comments
At one time, the side of the lower Intersection Center strip mall that faced Service Merchandise was something of an Indian complex, with a grocery, a clothing store and the Touch of India restaurant. I'm guessing that there was probably common ownership involved, but I don't really know.
Touch of India is the one Indian restaurant in Columbia that I haven't eaten at yet (though the one across form the Bush River Wal-Mart has changed ownership at least twice since I stopped there, so perhaps I shouldn't count it anymore). I always meant to stop, but the place was tucked away out of sight and mind and I never got around to it. They re-located last year out of the dying Intersection Center and onto Garner Lane, the hotel access road at the I-20 on-ramp off of Broad River Road. I've driven by the location a few times, and actually stopped by once when it happened not to be open. The new location looks a lot better, but they've traded an unattractive location for one that's hard to get to, at least if you're coming from Forest Acres. Still I'm going to make it eventually.
UPDATE 13 September 2009: Finally got some pictures of their new location at 1321 Garner Lane, #C:
UPDATE 15 March 2010:
Well, I finally did make it to Touch of India a few months ago. The menu was quite a bit different from The Delhi Palace where I usually go (or did before they moved). I thought the dosa (if I have that right -- the pancake-like things) were pretty good.
Unfortunately, they closed shop on Sunday the 14th. Eva's story in the Free-Times says business was down, and in my opinion, the location can not have helped there -- As I said in my original post above, Garner Lane is just hard to get to, and some people simply aren't going to "go against" Interstate on-ramp traffic.
UPDATE 16 May 2010: Added the full street address for the original location, tags.
UPDATE 20 May 2011 -- The place is now a strip club. More pictures later, but here is the start of the facade change:
I've written about Sounds Familiar before, as the chain has been contracting ever since the digital age started. This particular store, in Myrtle Beach a couple of miles above Myrtle Square Mall, was my favorite location. It was not as large as the Rosewood or Parklane stores, but for some reason, the selection seemed to skew slightly more to stuff that caught my eye than other SF locations. For one thing, this store seemed to be the boldest in the chain as far as stocking "import" CDs went. I know I bought a number of Beach Boys / Brian Wilson "imports" there over the years including the imfamous Pet Sounds stereo sampler. Also, as might be expected for the Myrtle Beach store, they had a very good selection of "beach music" (which has no connection to The Beach Boys [other than a Carl Wilson solo song "What You Do To Me" having a brief run on the beach music charts]). In fact the whole chain had excellent beach music sections due to owning the Ripete record label, but beach music in the Myrtle Beach store was always stocked in depth.
One of my favorite touches at this store encapsulates both why I liked the place, and why the chain eventually failed -- someone had taped a faded cartoon to the cash register there. It probably came from a record-store trade magazine originally, and had a customer asking a record-store counter clerk Can you special order this out of print record for me? with the clerk responding Yes! And I can raise the dead as well.
I liked the attitude that pasted up that cartoon -- willing to poke a bit of fun at customers without the fear that someone's nose would be put out of joint. But the fact was that by several years before the store closed, any customer could special order an out of print CD from Amazon or elsewhere, and the record-store business model just didn't make sense anymore.