I noticed this indoor flea market back in September, I think. It was in the old Capitol Centre strip behind Columbia Mall. This is an ill starred retail complex which has seen the failure or relocation of Circuit City, Capitol Centre Theater, Movies Behind The Mall, Office Depot, Aliens & Alibis and Cucos Mexican Cafe. It was several hours before the closing hour stated on the doors when I walked in, but most of the vendors had already covered their wares and gone for the day. I believe I was the only customer in the place, which is always uncomfortable for the amount of attention you get then. In particular a guy came up to assure me that it was usually much busier than this and that anyway they were going to do a grand re-launch event in October. I thanked him and wished them well, but was mentally shaking my head as I walked out. Just from the atmospherics I was 90% certain the place was going to be gone before the New Year, which is in fact what happened.
This kind of place can make it, but I think it requres some special circumstances. For instance, there is an indoor flea market on US-17 just south of Myrtle Beach that has been going for ten years or so. *But*, they have high visibility from a busy highway *and* have an operating Food Lion in the plaza which brings in traffic. Unfortunately, Jim's Discount Mall was not visible from any road. Even if you were coming into Columbia Mall (which is not the draw it was once anyway), you cannot see up the hill into Capitol Centre. Further, there is no store still operating in the plaza that pulls in any regular traffic. Without any of that, it would take a lot of advertising to get the word out, and that is a problem for a low margin operation. If I were going to pick a place in Columbia where an indoor flea market would have a chance to work, it would be one of the empty Goody's buildings which still have good visibility and working stores in their plazas (this actually has sort-of happened on a temporary basis) or the old Circuit City area on Two Notch. (There is also distressed space in The Village at Sandhill, but I suspect they are not yet ready to accept lower market clients on a long term basis). Of course all those rents are probably still higher than Capitol Centre.
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