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Greenbax Redemption Center, 2710 Gervais Street: 1970s   33 comments

Posted at 4:04 pm in historic,stores

Once upon a time, housewives stayed home and did the grocery shopping. That was the theory anyway, and it had a good bit of reality behind it for many years. One of the corellaries to this theorem was the assumption that houswives would have time to fool with trading stamps.

Trading stamps are one of those things that is hard to explain because it just sounds ridiculous:

You mean they had these rube-goldberg machines with hundreds of round buttons sitting on top of the cash registers, and when you bought something, the clerk punched in numbers and the machine spat out a bunch of stamps!!??

But the machines were there, and you did take the stamps home and paste them into books. And when you got enough books, you could take them to the redemption center and exchange them for various household items...

There were several different, competing, brands of trading stamps. The name I can always remember is Greenbax (a week pun on the idea that "greenbacks" are dollars, and that you got something back "bax" from the stamps), but each grocery chain had their particular affiliation. I'm pretty sure that this building, at the base of Gervais Street (near the Trenholm intersection) was the Greenbax Redemption center. (It was definitely the redemption center for some trading stamp line). I can only remember going there once (it took a long time to get enough books for anything desirable), and I can't remember what we got, but my impression is that the shelves were not packed and the place was not crowded.

At some point in the 70s, things changed. For one thing, more women were working, and not willing to put up with spending hours pasting stamps into books. For another, several grocery chains decided to give customers a break by, you know, having lower prices rather than pie-in-the-sky redemption offers. Trading stamps were the old version of the modern rebate scam. Companies love rebates since it lets them offer what sounds like a killer deal, but they know half the customers will forget to fill out the paperwork and they will never have to make good on it. Trading stamps were the same thing. The store seemed like it was giving you something extra, but they knew most people would forget about the stamps.

I see that Greenbax is still around as some kind of Pig loyalty program, but in general trading stamps had all died off by the 80s. I don't know what the Greenbax building had been before that -- It looks rather like an old A&P, but I don't think it was one. At any rate, it seems to have found new stable tenants since then. I think the current mix has been there for at least ten years.

UPDATE 13 Jan 2010: Added full street address to post title.
Also, the followup operation Columbia Paint & Decorating has closed.

Written by ted on June 20th, 2008

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33 Responses to 'Greenbax Redemption Center, 2710 Gervais Street: 1970s'

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  1. I have things to do and I cant stop reading your site!

    Before we moved to Columbia in 1969, my family lived in Williston. My mother collected those Greenbax stamps and I remember pasting them in the little booklets. She would save up a lot and get something nice. One of the things she got in the 60's was a set of Lenox crystal iced tea glasses, set of 12, rimmed with platinum on the edge. We still drink out of those glasses-cherished all the more because she saved stamps for them for so long and we had to drive all the way to Columbia to go to the Greenbax store to get them.

    Anna

    23 Jun 08 at 4:34 pm

  2. I know we got some stuff for trading stamps, but I can't recall anything specific other than a discount on some sleeping bags..

    ted

    23 Jun 08 at 4:42 pm

  3. I grew up in Canada, and at that time, especially in the smaller towns outside of Montreal, IGA stores were very popular. They had the equivalent of "Greenbax", which were called "Gold Star Stamps". The redemption was done by mail (not at a store). My mom got a kitchen scale from them a long time ago, I believe she still has it too!

    JP

    J.P.

    24 Jun 08 at 4:13 pm

  4. Looks like there are still a good number of IGA's around here. I suspect the trading stamps are gone though.

    ted

    24 Jun 08 at 11:29 pm

  5. You're correct, that was the Greenbax redemption center. I recall it being a Piggly Wiggly when it was built.

    David

    5 Jul 08 at 7:36 pm

  6. That was a Piggly Wiggly originally, run by the Chinese family with long braided pigtails who lived across the street, but wasn't it then an S&H (not Greenbax) trading stamp redemption store?

    FirstDennis

    21 Aug 08 at 10:08 am

  7. Piggly Wiggly still issues Greenbax (via the PFC card). In addition to redeeming them at the Pig, you can also use them at Pitt Stop gas stations.

    SMH

    5 Oct 08 at 2:40 pm

  8. You can also earn Greenbax stamps/points at Hess gas stations. Just show them your PFC card after you get gas. At least with the price of gas I am building up serious Greenbax points.

    Dennis

    6 Oct 08 at 7:08 am

  9. I think the S&H Green Stamp redemption store was on Forest Dr/Taylor St near Ed Robinson Cleaners.

    David H

    27 Nov 08 at 9:08 pm

  10. I'm fairly certain that physical Greenbax stamps lasted into the early to mid 90's. I remember my grandparents collecting them when I was pretty young, but I remember them still collecting them as I got older and actually going to the redemption center to use them. They were die hard Piggly Wiggly shoppers and collected the stamps up until the time they changed the program around. I seem to remember there being a redemption center somewhere on either Rosewood or Assembly up into the early 90's or so.

    Jeremy

    6 Dec 08 at 1:28 am

  11. The family that ran the original Piggly was not Chinese. The lived across the street and the sons had the long pigtails. Definitely not Chinese nor any oriental. That location has been many things, most of which escape me because none lasted very long. The little paint store has been there a while, however. Madison Hall was very successful on Devine Street...we'll see if they make it at this location.

    Pop

    18 Feb 09 at 5:49 pm

  12. The building for the Greenbax redemption center is still there on Forrest Drive before you get to Providence Hospital..it still looks the same!

    Del

    12 Apr 09 at 6:58 pm

  13. In re: to comments that Lew made and from the date, it wasn't recent, but I just happened upon this website.

    Anyway, he had mentioned some places I think of so often . Like The Market Rest, (my parents took me there all the time since my father then worked for the Atlantic Coastline RR which later became Seaboard and he worked near the Market Rest. They had the best 1,000 Island Dressing, clam chowder and chocolate mint parfait that they served in an ice cold stainless parfait glass. The waitresses always were in a crisply starched uniform with a beautiful handkerchief on their uniform. Oh my gosh, what a wonderful time.

    Also, my mother would take me downtown to the restaurant in Tapp's(it was downstairs) and we'd have the best lunches.

    Especially, the Eau Claire bakery in 5 Points which I still dream about daily. Does anyone know if any of the ladies that worked there would still be around or if anyone can duplicate the wonderful pastries they made? I'd love to know.

    Edisto Farm Dairy at Trenholm Plaza where I had a few b'day parties and always got ice cream there.

    I have seen the Women's Club near USC and was shocked at how horrible it looks. It is a disgrace. I use to take ballroom dancing back in the early 1960's with some school friends. So funny to think of the mental images of us with our poofy dresses and the boys in their suits.

    I could go on and on, but hope someone sees this. Like I said, I'd love to know if anyone knows anything about the Eau Claire bakery.

    Thanks so much!

    missy

    9 Nov 09 at 5:03 pm

  14. ISTILL HAVE ALOT OF THE OLDER GREENBAX WISH I COULD GET SOME THING FOR THEM

    CONNIE

    16 Mar 10 at 10:46 pm

  15. Don't know if you still can, but this PDF indicates that at one time you could take your old books to customer service at Piggly Wiggly and they would redeem your stamps into points in the current Greenbax card program.

    ted

    16 Mar 10 at 11:18 pm

  16. Wasn't the family that ran the Piggly Wiggly last name Kouri? (not sure how to spell it.) Seems like they had another business nearby that we used to go to also. A deli maybe? I definitly remember the boys with the long ponytails, and that they lived across the street from the store.

    LG

    12 May 10 at 1:37 pm

  17. Trading Stamps (Greenbax, I believe) were still around as physical books and stamps in the mid 1980's. I attended college in Charleston SC and the old Charleston Rainbows baseball team allowed free admission with two complete books. The next time I was home I begged for those old "useless" books sitting in a drawer, got a few from my aunt and grandmother, too. I think I paid for about eight games that way.

    Back in those days the Rainbows were affilated with the San Daigo Padres (Class A) and played in a stadium down town.

    Steve

    3 Jul 10 at 10:51 am

  18. I found 10 or so books when cleaning out mother's house. Can I get anything for them--where?

    Dianne

    23 Jan 11 at 2:32 pm

  19. @Diane, check out Amazon, you might be able to get something decent there, if not, try an auction place...my mom and I have benefitted from Bill Mishoe on Fairfield Road. He's a good place if you have stuff lying around your house that you'd rather get something for rather than having it lying around. Last summer mom and I cleaned out our attic and he auctioned it off and paid us either 90% or 80% of the profits depending on when he auctioned it. You usually receive a check within a month of the auction.

    Andrew

    23 Jan 11 at 10:19 pm

  20. [...] Greenbax Redemption Center, Gervais Street: 1970s at ColumbiaWhat’s not in Columbia anymore … My mother collected those Greenbax stamps and I remember pasting them in the little booklets. She would save up a lot and get something nice. One of the things she got in the 60’s was a set of Lenox crystal iced tea glasses, set of 12, rimmed with platinum on the edge. [...]

  21. Cici's Pizza in the Village of Sandhill accepts Greenbax. Our family went out for dinner there one night, I saw the greenbax scanner and for a $38 tab, I only had to pay $5.

    Miz T

    6 Sep 11 at 3:36 pm

  22. Weren't these stamps called " S&H Greenbax Stamps"? What were the other stamps that were around about the same time, but they were gold instead of green?

    Del

    6 Jan 12 at 9:34 am

  23. I think "S&H" *were* the other stamps.

    ted

    6 Jan 12 at 10:10 am

  24. Nah, Del's right. It was S&H Greenbax and they were green. I don't remember the gold ones.

    tonkatoy

    9 Jan 12 at 7:41 am

  25. I think the gold ones came from Piggly Wiggly or Colonial, but not Winn Dixie. I want to call them "Gold Bond" Stamps, but that may not be right.

    Del

    9 Jan 12 at 2:56 pm

  26. There were also "Top Value" stamps. I'm wanting to think they were yellow or gold, but can't remember for the life of me who gave them out where I grew up.

    My parents collected S&H Green Stamps when I was little, for money was sorta tight in our household and every little bit helped. I remember during the big winter storm of February 1979 our lights were out for several days and we had no heat aside from our fireplace. My brother had a sleeping bag but I didn't, so we drove to town to the S&H store and and my parents cashed in a couple books of Green Stamps to get a sleeping bag for me. That thing lasted forever.

    Alaska Jill

    9 Jan 12 at 6:23 pm

  27. Back in the late 60s/early 70s, there was also something called "Bonus Gifts Coupons" which were part of the labeling of products. I don't know how they were supposed to work, or where you would redeem them, though.

    badger

    9 Jan 12 at 6:47 pm

  28. "Blue Horse" school products (notebook paper etc..) also had some sort of coupons you were supposed to collect for gifts. We never got enough to do anything with..

    ted

    9 Jan 12 at 8:53 pm

  29. Greenbax Stamps were originally exclusive to Piggly Wiggly as they were a subsidiary of the Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., based in Charleston. S&H Green Stamps were a "product" of the Sperry & Hutchinson company.

    Mike

    9 Jan 12 at 9:44 pm

  30. The family that owned/ran the Piggly Wiggly was named Khori (not sure of that spelling). I went to Schneider elementary school with three of the brothers. They had long braided pony tails because of their religion. They were Church of the Nazarene and did not believe in cutting the males hair until their 21st birthday. The kids in our school gave them absolute hell for it too! Luckily they were bruisers and watched each others backs. One of them could sing opera like nobody's business. They later ran a rug store on Divine St near an English style pub that was popular back in the 90's.

    Ned Harkey

    10 Jan 12 at 12:14 am

  31. I recall Greenbax being linked to Piggly Wiggly's PFC card but I am not sure the details of how it's done now...before the Irmo Store (#60) closed, they used to have a redemption center that you could redeem for certain things...even the one at 4350 St. Andrews Road (#102) had a place as well but since both of those are closed and I haven't shopped at any of the others lately, so I am not sure how it's done.

    This comment on the Irmo page has me thinking that the Pig is a dying grocery chain though (and it affects the light I see the Pig in when I ride by any of their other area locations)...

    Andrew

    11 Jan 12 at 12:39 pm

  32. Greenbax and S&H were two different sets of stamps. A&P and Piggly Wiggly gave Greenbax and Winn Dixie gave S&H if the memory is correct. Goldstar stamps came in with some new groceey maybe Big Star, but they didn't last long in this area. The Greenbax redemption center was on Harden St. across from where The Villa was, I think it's now a chain drug store, the building no longer exists. Cribb bakery was around the corner. It moved from there to the site of the old Piggly Wiggly that was owned by the Khouri family. Some of them still work in the grocery industry. They are not Chinese and still own the house on Gervais. The old Piggly Wiggly was torn down and the new set of stores built. The S&H redemption center was on Forest Drive and is now a paint store. I spent many Saturdays at both of them, most at Greenbax because my mother was an A&P. Piggly Wiggly shopper.

    Frances

    26 Jan 13 at 8:00 am

  33. Or they may have just remodeled, the old Piggly Wiggly I don't really remember, I'm going to ask one of the Khouri's.

    Frances

    26 Jan 13 at 8:03 am

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