Archive for October, 2009
I guess there won't be any "Naughty Nurses" getting their costumes here this year though -- The "fantasy" has fled.
I don't know what this building was built for, but clearly it predates Fantasy Lingerie. I don't know how long Fantasy was there, though I think it was at least five or so years. The general area seems to be rather blighted with Maurice's next door recently closing, and lots of other empty storefronts nearby.
At one time, before it became a Big K-Mart, the left side of the K-Mart on Jackson Boulevard was a separate storefront. Looking at these pictures, there appears to be no trace of the division left, and I can't recall any indication inside the store either, but it was definitely the case.
There were at least two stores in that location. The first one I recall was Big Star grocery. Big Star was the discount arm of Colonial, and the Big Star remained open long after the Forest Drive Colonial, where we did most of our grocery shopping, closed. That meant that for certain Colonial items, like Farm-Charm cheese, we would drive out to Big Star rather than going to the closer Trenholm Plaza stores. Actually, I suppose it was mostly my doing as I was (and still am to some extent) a very picky eater, and sometimes my mother would get what I wanted just to make things easier on herself (I'm sure it wasn't above me to complain that a grilled cheese sandwich was made with the wrong kind of cheese..).
Wikipedia says that Big Star left the South Carolina market in 1988, selling its stores to Harris Teeter. I think this store closed earlier than that, and I don't think it was ever a Harris Teeter, but I could be wrong.
At any rate, some time after Big Star left, the storefront became an Old America store. I never went in one of these stores, but they were some sort of craft store and seemed to have a policy of co-locating with K-Mart, or at least the North Augusta K-Mart also had an Old America (though in that case the K-Mart left before Old America folded). In Columbia, K-Mart is still there, and Old America folded, probably in 1999.
I'm getting the 4410 street address from an old online listing for Old America, apparently that address no longer exists with the K-Mart expansion, and the whole storefront is now 4400. I don't think there was another store after Old America and before K-Mart took the whole space.
Shoney's is a place we often went while I was growing up. They were affiliated with "Big Boy" then, and always had "Big Boy" comic books as free premiums for the kids, and they had what was at that time my favorite desert, the Hot Fudge Sunday Cake.
Disaffiliating from Big Boy was supposed to help them grow, but somewhere along the line they went wrong. Perhaps it was when they overextended themselves trying to establish a hotel brand, but whatever it was, they started closing stores. Right now, the only fully operating one I can think of in Columbia is the one on Garners Ferry. (I believe that the one on Bush River Road, while still open, no longer does dinner).
I can only recall eating at this Shoney's once, more or less by accident. Our troop was coming back from a camping trip somewhere, and I believe we had some sort of van and several dads driving regular cars. Something (the van I suppose) broke down, and a good part of the troop was stranded at Shoney's (I forget whether we actually made it to the parking lot or had to walk a bit) while other transport was arranged. None of us boys had any money, so the adults brought us a meal while we waited. It never occurred to me until years later that that must have been an unexpected and unwelcome financial imposition on them. Perhaps my parents settled up later, at any rate, in the way adults had back then, nobody let on anything to the kids, and we all had a *great* time.
I guess that would have been around 1974, so the restaurant still had years to go at that point. I'm not in fact sure when it went under, but I think it was sometime in the early 1990s. At any rate, it has been a Mexican operation for a number of years now.
There was nothing particularly noteworthy about the Hardee's which once sat at the corner of Blossom & Assembly Streets, but it's a memory of a somewhat less grandiose scheme of things in that area.
I do remember two things in particular about it:
1) It was the first place I've ever seen ruin a toll-house cookie. I stopped there once feeling a bit snackish and could not finish the thing. It was like they cooked it on the same griddle with the burgers or something. At the time at least, Hardee's could do sweet, something they proved with their cinnamon-raisin biscuit, but not, apparently, after 10:30 am..
2) While the restaurant was on the way down, and maybe after it closed, the side of the parking lot facing Assembly street was filled with used cars for sale.
It's not clear to me what they are building, or going to build, there, but it couldn't have worse cookies...
Well, The South Carolina State Fair was fun as usual. My only regret is that I did not get to ride the bumper-cars this year since I would have been the only one on the floor at the time I went by, and what's the fun of that? Oh, and I didn't manage to score a free yardstick anywhere this year.
Other than that, you've got your french fries, Italian sausage, fried mushrooms, cinimon rolls, performing sealions, elephants, rides, art and lots and lots of neon. What's not to like?
You can pretty much stop here if you don't like lots of photos, that's about all that's after the jump. I'm a little disappointed in how my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 handled the neon. Last year my deceased Kodak DX3600 tried its little heart out to make sense of the low light conditions it was never built for, and I think actually got better saturation on the neon than the Lumix, even though the Lumix is a much better camera. On the other hand, I just locked the Lumix F-stop at 2.2 and let it do whatever it wanted with the shutter, there's probably a better neon setting somewhere. (The thing has the most driest, most snoozeworthy manual of nearly anything I've seen). Interestingly, whereas usually the JPGs I get by manually processing the camera raw files are more pleasing than the ones the camera creates, the opposite was true here. Anyway, even if the average quality wasn't as pleasing, I still think I got some very nice shots. So if you like that kind of thing, and have a while to download, hit the "MORE" link.
You wouldn't think bricks would need or indeed have much consumer advertising. After all, the only time you buy bricks is when you buy a house, and unless you are rich and doing a custom build, you probably end up with whatever the contractor uses rather than doing brick shopping.
Nonetheless, Richtex Bricks seemed to have a major advertising presence for most of my life, or at least it seemed major, since it was very eye-catching. And by that, I don't mean image ads like the one here from an old Sandlapper Magazine, I mean the billboards on I-20 near the brickworks. (Actually I didn't know where the works actually are until I looked it up today, but it was fairly clear from the fact that the billboards were always on I-20 just east of Broad River Road).
These billboards went through a number of campaigns, but the one I remember best, and which seemed to last the longest was one which made brick-related "visual puns". I'm sure if I weren't trying to think of them, I could remember more, but the only one that comes specifically to mind now was one that depicted a huge flying mammal constructed entirely of brick -- That's right, it was a brickbat. There were never any captions to these billboards, so you would try to figure them out as you drove by.
I see a little Richtex history here:
Richtex Brick in Columbia, South Carolina, recently initiated a special training program for inmates at Stevenson Correctional
Institution sentenced to the Shock Incarceration Program. Richtex, a company that has been in Columbia since 1919, employs 450 people in its three plants and is the largest brick company in South Carolina. Richtex operates an evening brick masonry school for adults which allows individuals to achieve apprenticeship or journeyman status depending on their individual career goal.
That document seems to be undated, but this 2003 link from Hanson explains what eventually happened to the company:
The integration of the seven companies was a huge undertaking that began in 1999, when Hanson Building Materials America, a subsidiary of London-based Hanson PLC, acquired seven major brick companies. Hanson Brick integrates Boren Brick (North Carolina), Richtex Brick (South Carolina), Sipple Brick (Kentucky), Michigan Brick (Michigan), U.S. Brick (Texas), Canada Brick (Ontario) and Briqueterie St. Laurent (Québec).
Hanson Brick brings together the skills and experience of more than 2,000 employees who serve customers in three languages - English, Spanish and French. The new company provides its customers with superior selection and service, offering five regional brick collections with more than 1,000 styles of brick.
I had thought a company called Boral Brick figured into the mix somewhere, since it seemed that I saw their billboards after I stopped seeing Richtex's, but as far as I can tell, they are unrelated and not subsumed into Hanson.
UPDATE 1 November 2009 -- Here is some more Richtex history from an archived version of their vanished web-site:
Richtex Brick began in 1919 as a small kiln operation on the banks of the Broad River, near Jenkinsville, SC. P.H. Haltiwanger, the original proprietor, early on felt an uncomfortable division between his commitment to Richtex Brick and his duty to Carolina Life, an insurance company he owned. Thus, he soon gave the presidency to his son, Deams Haltiwanger, who presided over the business during its casually prosperous early years, and who engineered its first significant advances in size and profitability.
In 1943, after more than two decades of steady business, an opportunity arose for immediate expansion. Deams Hatiwanger, on discovering that the Columbia Pipe Company had recently gone bankrupt, decided to acquire the business for Richtex Brick.
Richtex Brick has expanded and changed in important ways every decade since. A third plant was built in 1955, bringing the company's annual production capacity to 70 million brick. Plant number four was built in 1965 for the production of terra cotta pipe. Four years later, Richtex Brick was purchased by the Pomona corporation, which converted the fourth plant to brick manufacturing the following year, in 1970. In 1984 Richtex Brick was sold to Founders Court, and sold again in 1986 to Jannock Limited. Currently, Richtex Brick is owned by Hanson, PLC, a diversified building products corporation with operations in the U.K., Canada and in the United States. It ranks as one of America's largest producers of clay brick.
UPDATE 11 Nov 2010 -- Here's the I-20 visible site of the old Richtex (now Hanson) brickworks:
I've been spending some time on the coast recently (Brookgreen Gardens had a nice little fall festival this weekend), and noticed this closing while driving by the terminally-ailing Inlet Square Mall where US-17 Business and US-17 Bypass come together at Murrells Inlet.
Tracking Grand Strand closings would be a full time job as the area has incredible churn, but I can't resist listing some here from time to time. Just two thoughts:
a) The economy must really be bad if Hooters can't sell what's on their menu.
b) They have a pre-printed company-logo sign (with slogan) for store closings?
UPDATE 29 August 2011 -- It's now The Carolina Tavern:
This Big Lots store on US-1 in between I-26 and the flea market, was clearly once a grocery store, but I don't know what kind. The design has that certain late 1970s "We have lost our collective minds" look
I know that this was a Big Lots as early as May 2001 because I stopped there on my way to the airport to pick up a camera I didn't care what happened to. What I ended up with was worse than the average drugstore disposable of today, and I ended up with a bunch of mostly awful pictures.
I can't pinpoint the date any closer than that -- I used to ride out to the flea market fairly often in the early 1980s, but what always caught my eye in this strip was the Fat Boy burger place, and the grocery didn't really register.
UPDATE 26 October 2009: Consensus is that it was a Winn-Dixie, so I have updated the post title to that from "Grocery Store" (and updated the closing date from '1980s' to '1990s').
UPDATE 11 March 2011: Updated closing date based on information from commenter Andrew.
Although I believe this West Columbia store was closed in the first wave several years ago, searching news.google.com for "Hollywood Video" continues to bring up rafts of new store closings, many from this month (October 2009). Apparently the parent company, Movie Gallery is also closing 200 Game Crazy stores which are often co-located with Hollywood Video as well.
I don't know anything about the gaming market, but it seems to me the retail DVD rental store market is probably not going to improve -- in fact I expect the reverse. A DVD is just a 4.7 gigabyte storage medium. Even now, you can download that much overnight with a good cable connection and it's only going to get "worse" (for stores) as broadband continues to speed up and video compression continues to improve. Add in Netflix, and a beauty store is probably a better long-term prospect.
I can see the appeal of hitting the open road while keeping your home with you though I don't ever expect to do it. My non-beach travel tends to be more hotel oriented, and I like sitting at 3pm in a new restaurant with a pizza and a book more than sitting at a travelling kitchen table..
I have no information about what happened to this RV store on the I-26 frontage out towards Harbison, but if I had to guess, I'd bet the one-two whammy of $3.50 gas closely followed by the current recession did them in. I don't know what kind of milage an RV gets, but I'll bet it's like the old joke of "If you think you can afford a boat, try standing in a cold shower tearing up $100 bills first" (minus the shower part).
UPDATE 26 October 2009: Added "Choice Rental Car Saless" to the title based ont he comments.