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J. B. White (White's), Richland Mall, Dutch Square: 20 September 1998   102 comments

Posted at 6:59 pm in Uncategorized

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.

102 Responses to 'J. B. White (White's), Richland Mall, Dutch Square: 20 September 1998'

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  1. Growing up in St. Andrews, I have no memories of Richland Mall, so all of my memories are from Dutch Square. I remember when White's was a two story building, they had a restaurant named "Spanky's." I say restaurant. It guess it was more of a diner, like you'd find in K-Mart or Woolworth, but I remember the sign. I also remember going up the down escalator one time, with great difficulty. Did the Richland Mall location have a restaurant?


    17 Jul 08 at 8:26 am

  2. I remember there being a restaurant at the Richaland Mall locatation but it closed in the early 80s I think.

    Mr Bill

    17 Jul 08 at 10:40 am

  3. They really didn't change the Richland mall one much when they expanded the mall. They didn't raze it, they just added wings to both sides of it. I always thought that was confusing because you could not walk from one end of the mall to the other without going through whites.

    Mr Bill

    17 Jul 08 at 10:48 am

  4. Yes, I always found the new layout very confusing. I'm not sure the walking through White's thing was there from the beginning though. I think that originally, you could walk through the original (now closed off) food court to avoid that.

    As for razing the place, as far as I know, none of the original buildings were incorporated into the "Fashion Mall". Certainly, the Black Lion building was not the old White's building though it is in that location. Also certainly, the theater, automated post office and Russell Stover buildings from the parking lot are all gone.


    17 Jul 08 at 10:58 am

  5. I don't know where else to put this but there was a great little restaurant on M
    ain street called "capitol cafe" that was right between the door for a yoga stud
    io and the ABC studios. It must have closed sometime in the last 6 months. That'
    s where there is a sign about Dunkin Donuts that should be moving into there. It
    was a decent restaurant which good prices. I heard that it closed because the o
    wner had some sort of drug habit and skipped town. It's a shame. But I know we'r
    e all excited about a Dunkin Donuts within walking distance!


    17 Jul 08 at 11:29 am

  6. This is the second time someone has mentioned the Capitol Cafe. Maybe I can get a few pictures of it and do a post though I have no personal memories of the place.


    17 Jul 08 at 11:31 am

  7. I think you're right about the food court, but I swear that the Belk is the original whites. They just remodeled it so much it's hardly recognizable. I'm pretty sure the skinny escalators are still in there though.

    Mr Bill

    17 Jul 08 at 11:45 am

  8. Well, you may be right. I'm fuzzy on the details.

    I'm sure that Whites was originally on the end of the mall furtherest from Forest Drive. Woolworth's was on the front side nearer to Forest, followed, I think by The Redwood Cafeteria and a grocery store. Happy Bookseller, Jackson Camera and Lourie's Record Store were on the back side of the central, open-air corridor.


    17 Jul 08 at 12:01 pm

  9. wow, I do remember those places but hadn't thought about them in years. I used to love that Russell stover store. I think you are correct about the location, the mall did end where whites was. They tore down the movie theater and the captain d's to extend out on that side. The only way you can tell that whites was there is by the old skinny escalators.

    Mr Bill

    17 Jul 08 at 8:31 pm

  10. I almost forgot about the Winn Dixie that was there too.

    Mr Bill

    17 Jul 08 at 8:36 pm

  11. oh and one last thing they also had a whites at Columbiana which is where the Belk is now.

    Mr Bill

    17 Jul 08 at 8:37 pm

  12. Wow, I grew up at White's, practically, because my father (Codename 2-10) worked there. There was a restaurant upstairs, near where the office used to be. They also had a fabric department at one time.

    As for the mall, I can remember these stores having been there at one time or another: White's , Redwood Cafeteria, Woolworth's, Colonial Store, Eckerd's, Gerald's Shoe Repair, Bellefield's Ice Cream, Pet-a-Rama, a laundromat, a dry cleaner, Winn Dixie, Berry's on Main, Baubles and Things, Meri's Record Shop, Sylvan's, Karmel Korn, Jackson Camera.


    18 Jul 08 at 9:04 pm

  13. Sorry, that should have been "codename 2-1" :)

    Also, I know Britton's was at Richland Mall at one point, as well as the Happy Bookseller. I'm sure there were others I have forgotten. We lived about a half-mile from the mall, and I loved that place when I was a kid.


    18 Jul 08 at 9:08 pm

  14. Yeah, it's a shame how it has all failed to work out for them. They couldn't embrace what they were: Trenholm Plaza with a nice department store, and wanted to be the next Columbiana Center.


    19 Jul 08 at 2:51 am

  15. JB Whites started in Augusta. There is even a reference to it in the play Auntie Mame. It had a strong regional pressence, though not as strong as Belk's

    There also used to be a JBW at Columbiana (where Belks is now).


    21 Jul 08 at 4:01 pm

  16. Well Gabby we must have parallel lives. My dad was the first (?) manager of the Radio Shack in Dutch Square so I kind of grew up over there. JB White's was an original anchor; Tapp's was the other one. One of them actually had an Icee machine in the store, and at kids' shoes in JB White's there was a tiny upholstered car seat with tiny seat belts where you could strap your kid while you were slapping shoes on their feet.

    Much later (like 1985) I worked in boys' clothes, and that was just before they expanded to the third floor. The codes were to call certain personnel or let the plainclothes guys know that there was lifting going on. We always liked Moonlight Madness because they catered your dinner and made sure you had lots of breaks.

    Lordie I am old. Thanks for the reminiscences.


    22 Jul 08 at 6:06 pm

  17. I have many memories of the old Richland Mall from the 60s and 70s. It was a favorite hangout of my gang of friends from the poor side of Forest Acres.

    I worked at Redwood cafeteria one summer, and worked at the restaurant (The Riverboat Tea Room) upstairs at Whites 1973-75 while I was in high school. Fun place to work because so many of my friends worked there too, and the food was pretty good. They let us eat almost anything we wanted. I earned enough money to buy my first car.

    You can tell the current Belk is the same store by the ancient escalator on the parking garage side of the store and the tiny elevator in the corner. Everything else has been remodeled into oblivion.


    20 Aug 08 at 2:13 pm

  18. Yep, I'll retract that remark about the building being razed in the main post


    20 Aug 08 at 3:42 pm

  19. The first time I set foot inside Richland Fashion Mall, I felt some sort of chill up my spine and across my skin. Something about that place always creeped me out in a very major way. I like mood lighting, but the lighting there just always seemed extraordinarily wierd.


    28 Aug 08 at 1:18 pm

  20. Richland Mall also had a Hickory Farms, Sylvan’s Jewelry Store, S&S Cafeteria, and Woolworths Five and Dime.


    12 Nov 08 at 5:46 pm

  21. Yes, though I believe the S&S was originally "The Redwood Cafeteria". Also Jackson Camera, The Happy Bookseller, Russell Stover and a theater in the parking lot and groceries.


    12 Nov 08 at 5:59 pm

  22. My favorite stores at Richland Mall were the Pet-A-Rama(sp?) and the one the had the caramel corn.

    I can remember my mom buying me a pet turtle at Pet-a-rama before they were made illegal because of the risk of salmonella.


    13 Dec 08 at 11:15 am

  23. Of course for "Sliders", you can still just find them in the wild fairly easily. That's how we got ours, "Scooter", we called him.

    Woolworth's had pets (fish & hamsters if I recall correctly) as well.


    13 Dec 08 at 2:38 pm

  24. The flower lady in front of the restaurant in
    J.B. Whites was Mrs. Rattray.

    How about Mr. Poppers in the open-air middle of the old Richland Mall? You could smell the flavored popcorn as soon as you exited J.B. Whites.

    "one five, one five. one five, one five"

    Midnight Rambler

    16 Dec 08 at 10:42 am

  25. I'm an long time retail employee, Whites died because Roger Milliken of Spartanburg pulled his shares out of JB Whites parent company. Which in turn cause the company to go under, i.e. sell to Belk. Store were profitable, but when you have m(b)illion, when got a chance to make more $. SELL

    LJ Upstate

    17 Dec 08 at 9:37 pm

  26. I loved going to Whites & Richland Mall. Does anyone else remember the Saturday morning movies during the summer? If your Mom shopped at Whites during the week, you would get a free pass. My friends and I would hang out at the mall the rest of the day - eating lunch at Woolworth's, checking out the animals at Pet-o-rama and going to a record store(can't remember the name). Fun Times!


    25 Jan 09 at 4:15 pm

  27. I remember summer movies at the Richland Mall Theater, but I thought they played on a weekday. I remember we could buy our tickets (came in a long, perforated strip) for the entire summer series of movies at the end of the school year at Bradley Elementary. Yep... those were definitely fun times!


    26 Jan 09 at 8:28 pm

  28. I think it was weekdays. The idea was that it gave the moms a break when the kids were underfoot during summer vacation, and we would have been underfoot on Saturdays anyway.

    I remember in particular seeing an animated version of the Chinese "Monkey King" saga with Frankie Avalon dubbing the hero's voice.


    27 Jan 09 at 2:24 am

  29. Oh yeah I remember the summer movies well

    Mr Bill

    27 Jan 09 at 1:49 pm

  30. Perhaps towards the end of the open air mall, Richland Mall had a vcr tape video rental store named Adventureland Video. It was on the back side of the mall facing the neighborhood (Colin Kelly).


    2 Feb 09 at 2:32 pm

  31. Hey, E.J., what years were you at Bradley? I went there '63 - '69


    2 Feb 09 at 3:03 pm

  32. I went there '69 - '74. Go Bees!


    2 Feb 09 at 8:21 pm

  33. So the current "Belk's" at Richland Mall is the original White's building? I though they tore it down in the 80's when they got rid of the original mall. Is there anything left of the original Richland Mall inside the new one?


    11 Apr 09 at 10:53 pm

  34. I remember going with my Mom to Whites when I was a kid. Any department store was fun to me especially the Belks that was downtown. The elevator was a gut wrenching jerk to the top floor. The one at Whites seldom worked right which made it that more exciting to me. I remember being fascinated with the childrens education section that had these cool electronic education kits where you could build a radio by attaching the right modules together.


    12 Apr 09 at 8:00 pm

  35. Does anyone remember Tapp's downtown when they still had Elevator Operators? that would say "Going up" or "Going Down"? They sat on little stools and would take you to what floor you wanted to go to by pulling up or down on a lever and they would close the doors for you. I remember though when they didnt have them anymore and you had to push the button yourself..scared me to death! I didnt know what to think.


    12 Apr 09 at 9:17 pm

  36. Del

    Tapps was the other store that my Mom took me too. Yes, I remember the operators. This must have been back in the early 60's. I remember the cornbread served in the basement restaurant. Dang it was good!


    13 Apr 09 at 1:34 am

  37. The new mall was built around the White's building. White's was open while the mall was being built. It would have been easier to demolish the whole thing and start over but that is how they built it.


    13 Apr 09 at 1:37 am

  38. I still go to the S&S cafeteria at Richland Mall. That's about the only business left from the original mall, I think.


    30 Apr 09 at 9:07 pm

  39. Pinckney - the S&S at Richland Mall has been there ever since the total remodel (what year was that?) but was not in the original open-air mall. There was the Redwood Cafeteria on the northwest side of J.B. White's (now Belk's) back in the day.


    1 May 09 at 6:49 am

  40. S&S was at Richland Mall when it was an open air mall. It was at the front side, down towards Forest Drive.


    2 May 09 at 5:43 am

  41. So ChiefDanGeorge, did S&S take over the Redwood Cafeteria before the big remodel?


    3 May 09 at 5:01 am

  42. No, S&S had been there years before the either the big remodel, or the remodel where they put all those bizarre cement animals in the middle part.


    3 May 09 at 5:45 am

  43. I remember the old SOC station at the Forest Drive entrance selling gas for 19.9 in the late 60's. And also there was a open air market across Forest Drive behind the pharmacy that was there during the 60's.I think the name of the market was Kelly's, but not sure.


    3 May 09 at 11:26 am

  44. I always liked the cement turtle by the Happy Bookseller.


    4 May 09 at 2:00 am

  45. ted - I just re-read this entry and I wondered if anyone had told you yet how the PA code numbers worked.

    The first number was a person or a job title, and the second number was a location in the store. When the two numbers were announced that person was supposed to report to that department.

    For instance, 5 might mean an on-duty security person and 9 might mean Ladies' Dresses, announced because someone thought they saw shopifting going on there. Or 4 might mean someone assigned to do porter duty, and 7 is the part of the store where a customer just bought something big and heavy and asked to have it carried to her car.


    12 May 09 at 9:52 am

  46. Nope! I.did.not.know.that, as Johnny Carson might say.


    12 May 09 at 11:23 am

  47. why would someone put that up there???


    14 May 09 at 7:33 pm

  48. I've deleted the comment Crane is referring to. This site is for *all* Columbians.


    14 May 09 at 10:56 pm

  49. I worked in the men's department at "White's" from 1980 - 1985. I was 16 when I started. In the beginning they had a place to eat on the second floor, furniture, and a candy department. That all disappeared over time. I loved the store then, it was so relaxed and you actually could give someone some customer service, putting an entire outfit together and it was appreciated. Moonlight Madness was alway a blast; we would party later and sometime sooner! I had some great friends there as well. I used to eat at Orange Julius, Chick Filet, Woolworth, Eckerds, Cromers and Annabelle's. Those were amoung my happiest years.


    22 May 09 at 8:00 pm

  50. JB White actually became Belk in September 1998. I can remember still being in Elementary School and it happening. My mom and grandmother liked JB White. Upon doing some research, I found their <a href=""Wiki page and determined that JB White was a division of Mercantile Stores, Inc. which sold to Dillard's and then Belk purchased some of the overlapping markets because both Richland Mall and Columbiana Centre would have had two Dillard's locations at the time.


    5 May 10 at 9:56 pm

  51. sry about that here is the fixed link to JB White's Wiki Page


    9 Jun 10 at 5:03 pm

  52. Im a long time FA resident. I grew up going to Richland Mall, Forest Lake Plaza and Trenholm Plaza and forgot a lot of the stores that these posts are reminding me of. I still slip up sometimes and refer to Belk as 'White's'. I loved those places.


    14 Jul 10 at 3:36 pm

  53. Im sorry, but I just DONT remember Colonial Crocery's being at Richland Mall. The Elevator and Escelater? ors? ver tee tiny narrow things..That would make them around 48 years old or so now.. I sort of remember with RM opened, but living in Cayce at the time we either went Downtown to Belk's and JC Penny's and Woolworth's, Louries and Berry's on Main..but RM was WAY on the other side of town and back then that was a LONG way from Cayce since you had to go all secondary roads. I'll never know why those in charge of things tore/razed the original Mall.. It now would be very retro and hip, but this disaster they now call once again RM, is as dead as a cemetary people wise and business wise, except for the really loud and annoying screamin' kids that run around in the play area near S&S.


    31 Aug 10 at 3:13 pm

  54. meant to say that the teeny tiny elevators/escalator's are super narrow and they look old too.. but condsidering they still work at nearly 50 years old is pretty good. Does anyone remember the Elevator operators at Tapp's downtown?


    31 Aug 10 at 3:15 pm

  55. @Del,

    Check out the bottom of the newspaper ad here.


    31 Aug 10 at 4:06 pm

  56. Del - just barely but Yes! I do remember the elevator operators at Tapp's. In their starched white uniforms.


    31 Aug 10 at 6:26 pm

  57. Dustin

    3 Feb 11 at 11:14 pm

  58. Dustin

    3 Feb 11 at 11:18 pm

  59. I visited the third level or what's left of this store at Dutch Square and its kind of spooky up there. Only the restrooms and the beauty spa&salon are opened, and those employees looked bored. The only access is via the ancient elevator. The rest is blocked off. I wonder why Belk didn't keep the third level fully open and operational.


    8 Feb 11 at 10:22 pm

  60. Yep:


    8 Feb 11 at 10:47 pm

  61. According to an August 2009 The State article from my archives of scanned retail articles, I gather the following: Belk's decision to reduce their Dutch Square inventory was that sales were down chainwide but didn't want to talk specifics. I haven't been in the Dutch Square Belk since it closed down the 3rd floor but mall manager Liz Krejici was quoted as saying that things were stable according to what she said in the article. She expected a few more openings shortly thereafter. Keep in mind this was before Picadilly, Chick-Fil-A, Gamestop and the Hallmark store folded up. I found this youtube video indicating that the elevator went out for 7 weeks. Something drastic needs to be done and I know Phillips Edison had something in mind but wasn't disclosing too many details.


    8 Feb 11 at 10:54 pm

  62. Yep that's what I saw! PS Andrew I saw your earlier post about Belk and thought I replied to you but I don't think it went through in any case while on my lunch break from work I did a run-in just to see Belk's new logo on the store inside. The tarp on the outside is so tiny for the big building lol:

    It's blurry but you can see it. I wonder how Columbiana's will look.


    8 Feb 11 at 11:19 pm

  63. Dustin-

    I felt that spookiness just recently. It was a Saturday night, and I had no clue the lingerie department was no longer on the 3rd floor (Yes, I'm not a frequent visitor of Belk). When I stepped off the "ancient" elevator, it was completely silent (salon was closed). I was really surprised they allowed the elevator to go to the 3rd floor after salon hours.


    9 Feb 11 at 8:22 am

  64. whaaaaaaaat? The salon at RM is closed? How long ago was it? That is spooky...

    Aliina J.

    9 Feb 11 at 9:42 am

  65. yea i saw their new logo on the mail that was sent to my relatives, tamma sum modern upscale southern somethin with a lowercase "b" wit two petals and i think the ink was in blue if im certain

    Aliina J.

    9 Feb 11 at 9:44 am

  66. Eh so the new Belk logo is up on Dutch Square not just the banner anymore but the actually thing. I saw it tonight it didn't look too good on the aging building.


    13 Feb 11 at 10:52 pm

  67. Dustin, I understand why you feel that way. The new Belk logo will take some getting used to on Dutch Square. It looks fine on the Sandhill Belk but it's going ot take some getting accustomed to on Dutch Square. I am looking forward to seeing how it looks on the Belk at Columbiana Centre.


    13 Feb 11 at 11:38 pm

  68. Dustin, I understand why you feel that way. The new Belk logo will take some getting used to on Dutch Square b/c it simply felt out of place when I saw it there last week. It looks fine on the Sandhill Belk but it's going ot take some getting accustomed to on Dutch Square. I am looking forward to seeing how it looks on the Belk at Columbiana Centre. Columbiana's shall transition to the new logo soon if not already the case (ditto for Richland Mall). All Belk locations shall have the new logo by the end of 2011.


    13 Feb 11 at 11:39 pm

  69. Dustin, I understand why you feel that way. The new Belk logo will take some getting used to on Dutch Square b/c it simply felt out of place when I saw it there last week. It's good with Sandhill Belk but it's going to take some getting accustomed to on Dutch Square. I am looking forward to seeing how it looks on the Belk at Columbiana Centre. Columbiana's shall transition to the new logo soon if not already the case (ditto for Richland Mall). All Belk locations shall have the new logo by the end of 2011.


    13 Feb 11 at 11:40 pm

  70. Well Belk now has their new logo up on Columbiana on the outside and it looks good. On the inside no new glass window yet though, leaving Belk a bit unlabeled.

    Two things about the Columbiana store is I heard J.B. White won an architectural award for the design of the present Belk store. It sure does have a unique design both outside and inside and along with Dillards are the only two level stores at the mall. Second is oddly the present Belk at Westgate Mall in Spartanburg I've heard is an identical clone to the Columbiana store! As I've only been to Haywood Mall up there, anyone know for sure?


    18 Feb 11 at 11:14 am

  71. @Dustin, while I am not for sure that Westgate is the mall but there is a mall somewhere in the Greenville/Spartanburg area that was designed the same way as the JB White that was at Columbiana that had the same design and everything and was a department store called Profitt's as of 2001. I checked Westgate Mall on bing! maps and found that the Belk there didn't look much like the Columbiana one. It looks like it has the interstate distance I need to have noticed it and all so apparently it has been razed in favor of something else currently under construction. However I am not 100% sure of that assessment.


    18 Feb 11 at 12:57 pm

  72. Well while the other three Belk's now have the new logo inside and out Richland's does not, infact last time I had stepped into their Belk the second floor was bare bones and a mess. Has Camden's Belk changed theirs?

    PS Andrew if it was Proffitt's sadly it has been demolished in favor of a Costco.


    23 Feb 11 at 12:43 pm

  73. I haven't been to Camden lately and I don't know when I'll make it out that way as I only go there on an occasional basis (like once every few months) and even then, I don't know if my outing will involve Springdale Plaza or not. Right now, with gas the way it is and how thin I'm stretched financially, a Camden outing isn't very likely (regrettably). If something comes along and I do make the trip out, I'll be happy to post the status of the Sprindgale Plaza Belk.

    btw if Richland Mall's Belk doesn't change signage soon, I'm afraid that we'll need to be take that as a sign that Richland Mall may be about to fold up.

    I've heard good things about Costco and I would welcome them in Columbia but I don't know where they want to open up. Maybe if Richland Mall is razed, Belk reopens a one-story store (akin to the Village at Sandhill), Costco could build a store of their own as well. I'd like to also see Kroger build a better store for the area there as well and maybe B&N could rebuild in some form as well.


    23 Feb 11 at 4:27 pm

  74. Don't worry about not seeing it I've only seen it once and surprised to see the Columbia metro technically have FIVE Belk stores, even if Camden is on the very outer edge. Your right with gas now hitting $3+ I doubt my bf and I will be making any trips to VAS(his former side of town) soon.

    I love Costco and even bought my current laptop at one out west for a steal. I was disappointed that Cola lacks one as well as Jack in the box restaurants. Oh well.


    23 Feb 11 at 7:59 pm

  75. I'm with you on Jack in the Box. I'd like for Columbia to have Jack in the Box as well as Costco.

    Be that as it may, I used to feel the same about Columbia lacking Walgreens, Rite Aid, Little Caesars, and Macy's but we have those now. So it could very well happen.


    23 Feb 11 at 8:52 pm

  76. I worked at JB White in 1989 in the Petite's dept upstairs. We used to go to Cromers and get a chocolate covered frozen banana on a stick and watch the monkeys. Those were great times.


    26 Feb 11 at 9:31 am

  77. Here we go folks… you might say I grew up in JB White’s. I started working there at 15 in 1981 and did not leave until 1999-when it had turned into Belks. Over those 18 years, I worked for 14.5 at Richland Mall, 6 months at Dutch and the last three at Columbiana. Spent most of my time up to 15 hanging out at Richland Mall as I lived 3 blocks away.
    The current JB White’s store is indeed the original building that they added onto by about a third in the late 80’s. If you go into the store now, the sections of men’s, cosmetics and some ladies wear are in the added on section. The “line” was between Ladies Shoes and Cosmetics basically. The addition was on the side facing Forest Drive that originally was the opening into the open air Richland Mall. The other side had the wing attached to it that led to Dillard’s/Black Lion. Dillard’s was roughly built where the theater used to be. They also added a third floor during that renovation for storage.
    Although it changed up occasionally, if you stood at White’s door and looked down the mall, on the right hand side was Woolworth’s, Colonial/Big Star Grocery Store, and then Eckerd’s. S & S was on the right side as well, but it opened to the parking lot, not into the Mall. On the left, Sylvan’s Jewelers, Happy Bookseller, Britton’s, Merrie’s Record Shop, Mr. Poppers, Berry’s on Main, and Winn Dixie. On the left side I might have missed one or two tiny stores, seems like a couple of little places there did change in and out over time.

    You mentioned the vocal paging system, does anyone remember the bells? We had a system most all of the time I was there where rather than vocal paging every time, the bells went off. My number at Richland was 551. So the bell would go off 5 times, 5 times and 1 time and I had a way to dial into the person paging me.

    There was actually a man named JB White who opened his store on Main Street in Augusta, GA in the late 1800s. JB White as you all knew it was owned by Mercantile Stores. There were 6 original stores: Richland Mall, Dutch Square, and Regency Mall in Augusta, National Hills Mall in Augusta, Aiken and Greenville. The next store they added was Savannah, and then within one month of each other in 1996, Columbiana and Spartanburg were opened. Yes, Spartanburg was intentionally a miniature Columbiana. Seems like it was 1997 when they moved the Regency Mall store in Augusta to a brand new Mall the name escapes me now, but I was sent down to help with the grand opening there and it was different from the other two recently stores, similar, but not identical like Columbiana and Spartanburg.

    If I am remembering correctly, White’s was on Main Street in Columbia way back when. And it too had elevator operators. In fact, my first department manager at Richland Mall was Martha Dreher, who had started out as the elevator operator and still had the stool she sat on for all that time!


    2 Mar 11 at 1:42 pm

  78. Great memories Lilibet!


    2 Mar 11 at 2:15 pm

  79. Here are two articles that show JB WHite closed in 1998 like I suspected:

    ANDREW MEADOWS, Staff Writer
    When Belk opens its doors today in Columbia, shoppers at the retailer's three new stores - Dutch Square Shopping Center, Columbiana Centre and Richland Fashion Mall - initially won't see much difference from the JB White stores they are replacing.

    Belk officials said the company purchased all of the JB White merchandise, retained the JB White employees and kept the stores' layouts intact. Even the mannequins remain the same.

    Published on 1998-09-23, Page A1, State, The (Columbia, SC)

    From Staff, Wire Reports
    Columbia's three Belk stores will open Wednesday morning, one day after a transaction with Dillard's is finalized.

    Sunday will be the last chance for JB White customers to shop the aisles and walk away with bags bearing the JB White name.

    Belk Inc., which acquired the stores in a swap with Dillard's, plans to close the stores at Columbiana Centre, Dutch Square Mall and Richland Mall on Monday and Tuesday for inventory. The stores will reopen on Wednesday as Belk.

    Published on 1998-09-19, Page A1, State, The (Columbia, SC)


    13 Mar 11 at 11:28 pm

  80. So 20 Sept 1998 then..


    14 Mar 11 at 1:27 am

  81. @ Lilibet - thanks for clearing up the bell chiming. I remember hearing that as a kid, realized it was some sort of paging system, but couldn't figure out how the employee knew it was their chime.


    15 Mar 11 at 9:15 am

  82. I worked at JB Whte from 1972 until 1992 . Fifteen years in advertising and five in retail. I loved that place...there will never, ever be another company like it. I also knew Martha Dreher (she became a buyer for women's clothing) Those were the finest people on earth to work with. I still keep in contact with friends there. Whites was under a chain of Mercantile Stores. There were over 100 sister stores under that umbrella. In advertising, we decided to change the name from "White's" to JB White to give the store a new image.
    I also loved the Mall and I don't understand fro the life of me why they did what they did. I loved all the quaint shops and shuch with the open walkway.

    kay smyrl

    16 Mar 11 at 6:51 pm

  83. I worked at JB Whte from 1972 until 1992 . Fifteen years in advertising and five in retail. I loved that place...there will never, ever be another company like it. I also knew Martha Dreher (she became a buyer for women's clothing) Those were the finest people on earth to work with. I still keep in contact with friends there. Whites was under a chain of Mercantile Stores. There were over 100 sister stores under that umbrella. In advertising, we decided to change the name from "White's" to JB White to give the store a new image.
    I also loved the Mall and I don't understand for the life of me why they did what they did. I loved all the quaint shops and such with the open walkway.

    kay smyrl

    16 Mar 11 at 6:54 pm

  84. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now official: Richland Mall's Belk is transitioning to the new Belk signage that is already up on the other 3 area Belk locations. Richland Mall's Belk had been slower than the other 3 locations to get the new signage and I was suspicious that something was about to go down but now that it's getting new sign, maybe there is hope for the former Midtown at Forest Acres turn Richland Mall after all...

    Century Capital Group and Kahn Development are working in conjunction with one another to bring new life into this particular facility called Richland Mall but it's too premature for them to talk details. They have a strong sense of optimism that hasn't been seen and is needed but we'll have to be patient and prayerful (as we are inclined) to what pans out and what doesn't.


    24 Mar 11 at 9:48 pm

  85. Interesting to hear. I had just drove by Richland's Belk a few days ago and could still see the old logo up, which surprised me given the other Belk stores have had the new logo up for a good 4-6 weeks now.

    Oh and last time I went into Richland the giant fountains in front of the old Bonwit Teller/Dillards/Blacklion/The Dept. Store store were covered up with wood. High water bill?


    25 Mar 11 at 9:50 pm

  86. Andrew

    8 May 11 at 11:43 pm

  87. I don't know why my previous SO LONG TO JB WHITE: BELK TO OPEN WEDNESDAY link didn't work but this one should...


    8 May 11 at 11:45 pm

  88. So Long to JB White *third time the charm (hopefully)*


    8 May 11 at 11:47 pm

  89. Thanks for those articles Andrew! I remember when JB White's Mercantile sister Joslins in Colorado held Moonlight Madness sales.

    Question, Belk opened up at Columbiana Centre in 1990 in the current JCPenney space. Being completely new to the Cola area knowing what I know from my own research, when Belk left town in 1995 what filled that space? I know Parisian later opened up and operated until 2005 when it became JCPenney.

    Sad that Dillards use to have three locations, now only has one while Belk now has four.


    10 May 11 at 8:43 pm

  90. I double-checked the details but after doing that, I found the following explains how it went down:

    1995: Belk Leaves Columbia

    November 1995: Parisian announces plans to open at Belk's old spot

    March 1996: Parisian opens up

    December 2005: Parisian announces plans to close at Columbiana

    February 2006: JC Penney announces plans to open up at Columbiana Centre

    October 6, 2006: JC Penney at Columbiana Centre is open for business


    10 May 11 at 9:28 pm

  91. I miss the good ol days with all my favorite stores. I was always at dutch square mall, BRM, Outlet point mall, and service merchandise.


    25 Jun 11 at 4:00 pm

  92. Actually, White's parent company, Mercantile was sold to Dillard's. However, due to anti-trust issues Dillard's had to sell off certain of the Merc stores where they already had a presence. Belk was looking to get back into the Columbia market abd bought the stores from Dillard's

    Jim R

    13 Feb 12 at 10:36 pm

  93. my understanding that Dillard's and Belk traded a few other things in different areas as part of the deal (but I can't remember the details)


    13 Feb 12 at 11:51 pm

  94. Reading this article. JC Penny's was never at Columbiana Mall Columbia Mall had them..Sears was on one end (Anchore store), and Penny's was on the other side with Rich's and Belk's across from each other. Columbiana Mall had Belk's which didnt last all that long really and I'm not sure who took over after they closed. Penny's moved to Sandhills after they closed at Columbia Mall.


    14 Feb 12 at 10:42 am

  95. Wasn't Burlington Coat Factory in the lower level of the Belk's space after Belk's left?


    14 Feb 12 at 1:59 pm

  96. JCPenney is in the old Parisian anchor at Columbiana.

    According to this site,, when JCPenney's left Columbia Mall, Steve & Barry's took over the upstairs and Burlington to the lower level. Steve & Barry's went into Chapter 7 and I think that BCF is still there.


    14 Feb 12 at 2:30 pm

  97. Del, if you read earlier on this thread, you'll note that Parisian took over Belk's old space at Columbiana Centre and right before Parisian sold out to Belk was when they left Columbiana Centre. It is then that JC Penney took over their old space.

    JC Penney moved out to the Village at Sandhill in Oct. 2005 when that started getting built. By then it was already known as Columbia Place but I can't bring myself to want to call it that despite my being a stickler about calling places by their proper names...I can't call it Kinko's anymore because it's now FedEx Office. Penny's doesn't work for me because it's actually JC Penney.

    tonkatoy, my understanding is that when Belk left Columbia Mall (it was still officially known by that name at the time), Dillard's took it over. Dillard's closed in late 2008 from Columbia Place Mall and the space has remained vacant ever since. While CBL did, at one point, have a track record of not letting malls slip on their watch, the volatile economy of recent years probably worked against them (and just about everyone else) and sadly, the former Dillard's remains vacant as a result.


    14 Feb 12 at 3:25 pm

  98. I worked at the Dutch Square JB White from 1987-1992. When I started, they were still a 2 story store and when they would have Moonlight Madness sales the fire marshal would come and raise holy cain because the 2nd floor would sway. The 3rd level was built around 88 and at the time was the largest retail establishment in South Carolina. There was a huge banquet at Dutch Square one night after closing because Macy's was supposed to become an anchor in the area that is now Burlington Coat Factory, but that obviously fell through.

    Good times, good times.


    20 Apr 12 at 2:29 pm

  99. If I remember, Tapps wasnt all that big was it.? I dont remember a lot about it for some reason..

    Saturday's child

    20 Apr 12 at 4:19 pm

  100. AMC Theaters (which is where Tapp's once was) is 58,800 square feet. Belk measures in at 203,859 square feet according to mall owner Phillips Edison. Compare that to Burlington Coat Factory which is 84,434 square feet


    20 Apr 12 at 4:58 pm

  101. I remem Lorne Greene from Bonanza on tv at the mall. At Pet a Rama they had exotic animals you could order. Elephant $899. I remember Whites one level. And the rain thru the open area. The trees from Redwood are still around. I saw them in a shop somewhere. It was all fun!


    20 Jul 12 at 7:57 pm

  102. worked at JB Whites from 1983-1986 as a Porter and had a blast. Made a lot of friends there and great memories.


    11 Aug 16 at 3:02 pm

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