When Rich's came to Columbia with the opening of Columbia Mall it was kind of a big deal. Up until that point, Rich's was an Atlanta name and had the kind of cachet that exotic brands tend to accumulate. I was given to understand that at one point special shopping busses were charterted to run from SC to Atlanta mostly just to shop at Rich's.
Even The State got into the act, running several puff pieces on the store. I can recall one in particular which made the claim that the store was so famous for its customer service and ease of return that a woman once "returned" her husband to Rich's which took him "despite having no record of the sale".
Given that I was almost completely indifferent to style, I was never overwhelmed by the idea (or actuality) of having a Rich's in town, but I liked the odd "pipey" outside architecture of the store, and the quirky way it had an almost patio on the first floor and an interesting elevator which boarded there.
Rich's wasn't all about fashion. It opened during the tail end of the "a department store should have everything" era and so had a full selection of electronics and cookware like a Sears.
It also had a book department at the bottom of the escalator, and that was one of my regular spots to hit when visiting the mall. It tended to best-sellers and remainders so you never knew quite what you would find there. I know I got two volumes of Richard Burton's unexpurgated translation of The Arabian Nights there which I still have, though I never saw the other 15 or so.
At some point Rich's ran into trouble. Wikipedia suggests it started with the death of Richard Rich in 1975. I suspect over expansion and Richway may have contributed. Whatever the case, the chain was sold to Federated which also owned the Macy's name, and the Rich's brand was retired on 6 March 2005.
The old Columbia Mall Rich's store continues to operate as Macy's to this day, and if you consider things just in terms of continuous operation, is one of the last original stores in the mall (along with Sears and Radio Shack) -- there are no books or stereos though.
UPDATE 7 Feb 2010: Somehow I wrote "Frank Rich" above instead of "Richard Rich" (now there's a good comic book name..). I've fixed it (Thanks JT!). Check the comments for more info..
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