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Waccamaw Pottery, US-501 at the Inland Waterway: 1990s   33 comments

Posted at 5:22 pm in grand-strand,historic,landmark,stores

WELCOME Visitors from The Sun News (myrtlebeachonline.com)!

Click this link for more Grand Strand memories.

Technically speaking, Waccamaw Pottery was only one store at this landmark dead mall, but the way I recall it, the name was casually used for the whole complex which was centered around it. Back in the 70s and 80s, the outlet mall was a real retail powerhouse on the Grand Strand, and this despite not having a single store that I as a teen wanted to go to. In fact, as I remember it, the place was notorious amongst my whole extended family as a somewhere "grown-ups" liked to go for hours and which we couldn't stand. I remember being in the car with several cousins sometime after my sister had started to drive. As we headed up US-17 towards Myrtle Beach, she suddenly hunched over, gripped the wheel tightly, put on a maniacal expression and announced "This car is going to Waccamaw Pottery and there's nothing you can do about it!"

I can honestly say I don't ever recall buying a single thing here. In fact, I can only recall ever seeing one thing that was even interesting there: In the 70s Playboy printed up a book version of some of their Bo Derek pictorials in advance of the movie "10", and one ended up on a discount table at one of the Waccamaw stores. Of course I couldn't buy it, but it certainly beat browsing festive ice-cube trays or whatever..

Wikipedia says Waccamaw Pottery went under int 2001, which matches more or less what I remember for their Augusta store, but I thought I recalled their "home turf" mall here going under in the 90s. For some reason, outlet malls seemed to go into decline in general around then.

I hadn't really planned on taking these pictures, but I spent the night at the Holiday Inn on the Waterway, and as I got in the car on July 4th, there the mall was and I coudn't resist. Although the place in general is pretty delapidated, with salt spray thick on the windows, deteriorating signage, and some graphitti, there are still some businesses hanging on in the west-most part. In particular, a design operation, a furniture store and a taxi operation. Apparently Hardrock Park is using some rooms in the main area as well (and you can see one of the Hardrock roller-coasters in the background of some of the shots). Some places apparently went under very quickly. You'll notice all the furnishings still in the ice-cream shop, and the Haggar 18 Wheeler (and Haggar history plaques) still in the Haggar store.

The place is still under active scrutiny too. You'll notice in the last picture, there is a security truck reflected in the windows behind me. I could see the reflection, of course, so I stopped what I had been doing, which was leaning suspiciously against the doors while I took some shots through the glass, stepped back and made a show of ostentatiously taking that last picture to make clear that I had a camera and that's what I had been doing. To avoid any pointed questions, when I turned around, I acted like the security guy was just who I had been looking for, and started plying him with questions about the future of the property. He was actually a nice guy and indicated there there were definite plans though he couldn't talk about them yet. We both knew he had made his point without having to say anything about trespassing, and I had plenty of pictures anyway, so I called it a day and headed for lunch.

This car isn't heading for Waccamaw Pottery..

Written by ted on July 7th, 2008

33 Responses to 'Waccamaw Pottery, US-501 at the Inland Waterway: 1990s'

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  1. Waccamaw Pottery's original concept was great! It was basically a warehouse with pallets and pallets of cheap housewares. By cheap, I mean you could get a dinner plate for 25 cents, drink glasses for a dime, and Christmas tree decorations four for a dollar! We furnished our first apartment kitchen from Waccamaw - the kitchen utensils like spatulas, spoons, etc., were equally discounted. I guess the owners got stars in their eyes and started carrying name brand lines, discounting them only about 25% or so, about the same as Belk's. Of course, this was also their undoing!

    ColumbiaGirl

    7 Jul 08 at 8:31 pm

  2. Well, my mother liked them too, so I'm sure you're right. My teenage self just had zero interest in housewares, I suppose.

    ted

    7 Jul 08 at 9:34 pm

  3. My wife worked in a store at the outlet and two friends of ours managed stroes there. The decline of the complex can be blamed on the owners being too smug and too complaciant that as long as they were there, people would shop. Consequently they did not put any effort or money into improving the facility.

    The fact that the new outlet that opened up the road on 501 had a rough first year or two only made Waccamaw's owners more complacient, but then when it caught fire, the pottery started to suffer. Several differnt owners came in and tries to revive it, but it was too little too late (and too little money being poured in.) Before 2000 the writing was on the wall for "the pottery."

    Tom

    9 Jul 08 at 10:21 am

  4. I remember going to that place many times. I was last there in december of 01. I guess it closed soon after that. You should do a story on the one here in columbia at Outlet pointe.

    Mr Bill

    11 Jul 08 at 3:18 pm

  5. You mean this one or something else?

    ted

    11 Jul 08 at 3:36 pm

  6. oh okay I didn't know it was called market pointe now. Wow you're way ahead of me. Nice work.

    Mr Bill

    14 Jul 08 at 9:51 am

  7. Columbia girl nailed it. Tons of cheap stuff pre-Chinamart. Too bad they got cocky and tried to go upscale.

    ceegardave

    16 Jul 08 at 7:56 am

  8. Child and Adolescent Me hated this place with my entire being. Good riddance!

    jason

    17 Jul 08 at 11:23 am

  9. My parents and I used to go to Myrtle Beach once a year while I was growing up, and I remembered that I only dreaded one thing during every beach vacation: the inevitable trip to Waccamaw.

    Bill

    27 Jul 08 at 3:33 pm

  10. There was a toy store in the "mall" portion of this location that appealed to the kid in me growing up. It was something like Kay-bee's if I'm remembering correctly.

    Shopping in Waccamaw was something more akin to the experience you get at a "J.R.'s" (on I95 in/around Fayetteville NC) now.

    Brian

    17 Apr 09 at 1:32 pm

  11. The original owner of the Wacammaw complex (who previously lived on E Avenue in the West Columbia / Cayce area!) did a great job with the company. After his death, it went into decline.

    Bobby

    22 Jan 10 at 5:02 pm

  12. I can't believe The Shops at Waccamaw Pottery is gone.
    I'm from North Carolina and I know a lot of travelers from the Tar Heel state would just come from miles to this place which was happening back then. I do recall there was also a Movie Theatre that was located in the back of Waccamaw too called the Waccamaw Pottery Cinemas,aka Pottery 6 that closed by Regal Cinemas in 2002.

    Raymond

    26 Mar 10 at 11:21 am

  13. Yes, there was definitely a theater. Regal has been on a poor streak on the Grand Strand the last rew years -- they closed the Inlet Square theaters just after New Years.

    This whole place was supposed to get a lease on life from the Hardrock Park, but we all know how that worked out..

    ted

    26 Mar 10 at 12:03 pm

  14. I remember spending HOURS in what our family called "Walk-a-mile" because of its size. I don't recall when it turned "upscale."

    When we went to Myrtle Beach (we're from Cleveland), my recollection is that Waccamaw was a largish long brown building literally filled with leather, pottery, housewares, brass (fun!) and anything else you could think of.

    I'm sad that I couldn't visit just this summer with my family on the way to Myrtle Beach. I disagree with many that it was dreaded by teens. There was always something to see there.

    Thank you for posting the photos. They prompted lots of good memories of family trips.

    Dan

    3 Aug 10 at 2:28 pm

  15. Waccamaw Pottery was started by Mr. Bishop. A gentleman by the name of Jack Peterson was the buyer and Merchandise Manager who traveled to China and many other oversea's locations to buy merchandise. Jack left Waccamaw and moved to Murphysboro, TN and opened his own stores. They are still operating under the name of "Old Tyme Potteries". Jack has passed away but his son Scott is operating the stores which is now around fifteen stores in different states.

    Waccamaw brings back many memories to me since I sold them lamps and oil paintings for over twenty years. Scott Shelley was the last buyer and he is now in sales and we are friends.

    John V.

    16 Jan 11 at 8:22 pm

  16. I worked for Waccamaw in Chattanoooga TN. I think it was the best job I ever had. I loved the concept. We had a saying at my store, "if we didn't have it, you didn't need it".
    I miss the days of working there. So sad hearing they didn't make it.

    LaRonda Byram

    30 Mar 11 at 4:39 am

  17. I really miss Waccamaw. My family always shopped at the Columbia location. That mall has completely gone under. I think the only thing there now is Hamricks, but I could be mistaken.

    kathy

    25 Jun 11 at 3:07 pm

  18. I think it still looks good in these photos. The only problem is that most of the stores are empty.

    I used to enjoy going there, but I'm not really sure why. There wasn't that much interesting about the stores.

    George

    27 Oct 11 at 5:17 pm

  19. I'm not glad it's gone for the sake of the people whose jobs are gone, but the whole concept of shopping while on vacation makes me nauseous.

    People who take a rare, wonderful thing (vacation! at the beach!!) and waste huge chunks of it shopping should be forced to give me at least one of their vacation days.

    Don't even get me started about Gatlinburg...

    Dennis

    28 Oct 11 at 1:11 pm

  20. I think that the Waccamaw concept could work again if the owners would stick to the basics of low price and volume. A lot of people won't shop in malls and pay mall prices. But they will drive for miles around if they believe that bargains lay ahead.

    joelc

    28 Oct 11 at 5:25 pm

  21. Hey Dennis.....some people actually get to live in Myrtle Beach and more than a few miss shopping at Waccamaw. When I moved back to MB from TX, I packed extremely light...I had a blast outfitting my new kitchen and then some by shopping there.

    Michelle

    1 Nov 11 at 11:17 am

  22. Wow! Thanks for the photos. I worked for one of the Waccamaw stores that was rebranded HomePlace and stayed with them through the bitter end in 2001. I had always heard when I worked there that the big Myrtle Beach store was a travelers' destination.

    I had just assumed something (other than weeds, of course) would take it over.

    Chad Wickstrom

    14 Nov 11 at 9:40 pm

  23. I remember their being one in the rear of Market Pointe Mall that closed and then it was Silk Flowers and Things for a while and now the complex (except for Hamrick's) is now office suites.

    Back in the 90s it was a decent 'outlet' mall but then one by one, the merchants left. There was a Subway, a jewlery store just outside Hamrick's (name escapes me) and I also believe a Plej's there at one point. I also recall a Dressbarn being there (but there is now Dressbarn at Dutch Square). I also have recollections of some sort of antique store being there but forget the name...

    Andrew

    14 Nov 11 at 9:48 pm

  24. At the time I took these, I believe that Hard Rock Park was taking some sort of upkeep interest in the place and maybe running the security that more or less ran me off in the end. That's obviously not the case now, and the last time I drove through things looked even worse. I'll have to get some updated pictures..

    ted

    14 Nov 11 at 10:33 pm

  25. The Waccamaw Pottery has been purchased by 3W LLC, a firm registered in New Jersey that is made up of Chinese and American investors. They bought the 52.29 acres from General Electric Credit Equities for $7.5 million, closing the deal on Dec. 30, according to Horry County property records. They have plans to revive the former shopping hub by cleaning up the area and luring new stores, restaurants, entertainment venues and other tenants. Cleanup of the property has already started and the first new stores could be open by the summer, though it likely will take two years before the buildings known as mall 1 and mall 2 are reopen, and that a least half of the space needs to be filled before it’s viable to open that interior space. The goal is to fill the spaces along the exterior of the property first. Read more at: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/2012/02/09/2650935/new-life-coming-to-former-waccamaw.html

    Casey G

    9 Feb 12 at 9:43 pm

  26. Well, I wish them luck. I have to say though, that with Market Commons bankrupt and hurting and with Barefoot Landing bankrupt and with B&C not feeling it can do anything with the Pavilion or Myrtle Square propterties, I'm sceptical.

    ted

    9 Feb 12 at 10:51 pm

  27. Though the Market Commons in bankruptcy it seems to be doing fine as well as Barefoot Landing. B&C really should do something with the Pavilion and Myrtle Square properties though I heard they are going to build a zip line on the Pavilion site. I should start something like Columbia Closings for the Myrtle Beach Area.

    Casey G

    9 Feb 12 at 11:24 pm

  28. There is certainly more than enough churn on the Strand. Things there turn over much more quickly than Columbia.

    ted

    10 Feb 12 at 1:18 am

  29. I think it would good then to start a Myrtle Beach Closings site. I hope the new owners of the Waccamaw Pottery do well.

    Casey G

    10 Feb 12 at 3:08 am

  30. I just finished washing and drying a pretty liqueur glass. I was reminded of buying it at Waccamaw Pottery in Myrtle Beach in the early '80s, so I Googled Waccamaw Pottery and found your blog. At the time, I lived in Wrightsville Beach, NC and drove down to Myrtle Beach quite often, always stopping to shop at the Waccamaw Pottery Outlet. I purchased lots of nice glassware there, much of which I still have today, 30 years later! Sorry to learn that it is gone.......

    Christine P

    5 Mar 12 at 1:51 pm

  31. I grew up in North Myrtle Beach and used to love going to Waccamaw Pottery even though, as others have mentioned, it didn't have anything I really wanted to buy. I just liked the layout and have a lot of fond memories of my grandmother taking me there.

    Justin

    1 Jul 12 at 6:38 pm

  32. I remember the Greenville-Spartanburg media market being bombarded with Waccamaw ads - especially that late '80s campaign with the deep-voiced guy singing "Wac-camaw! Wac-wac-camaw!" over and over again. Drove me up the wall. Never was subjected to the actual store; the commercials inflicted enough trauma. Those commercials are all I can think of when someone mentions the word "Waccamaw" in any context at all.

    Alaska Jill

    2 Jul 12 at 11:00 am

  33. WALK AWAY, WITH WACCAMAW! :-D

    Joel

    14 Nov 12 at 9:15 pm

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