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South Carolina Book Store, 801 Main Street: Summer 2019 (moved, refocused)   15 comments

Posted at 11:55 pm in closing




















I'm not sure how much USC still uses "textbooks" in the old sense. I haven't discussed it with anyone now in college, but my impression is that a lot of the books now are in ebook form. Since it sounds like the South Carolina Book Store is really getting out of the textbook market, that may be what happened.

At any rate, when I was in college this place was a sure visit every semester. In those, pre-internet, days this store and the USC owned textbook concession in the Russell House had a duopoly lock on the student book market. I usually tried to get all my bokos on campus, but invaribly there were one or two that were sold out and had to be tracked down here. They would also buy back textbooks, and from time to time growing up, my father would take me here with boxes of books that he had been sent in the hopes he would choose them for his classes, and would sell them, giving the proceeds to my sister and me. (I think he felt it wouldn't be quite right to take the money himself).

Aside from the texts, this place also had a heady mix of pencils, pens, notebooks, art supplies and drafting paper. There was a certain very specific smell when you walked in from all the paper and pencils. If I recall correctly, I had to get all my drafting supplies for my all-time least favorite class: Introduction To Engineering Drafting (or some similar name). I had a compass, gum erasers, drafting pencils, drafting paper and straight-edge. All of that, and after trying all day, I still could not draw a bolt in 3D perspective.

Despite driving past this store many times since college, I don't think I have been in since the 1980s, and I now it's too late to see if it still smelled the same..

(Hat tip to commenter Sidney)

Written by ted on August 5th, 2019

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15 Responses to 'South Carolina Book Store, 801 Main Street: Summer 2019 (moved, refocused)'

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  1. Hey Ted, I hope you went down 2 blocks and got pics of the Mediterranean by Al Amir, old Uncle Maddio's while you were in the area.


    6 Aug 19 at 12:05 am

  2. @Sidney -- I did that one a couple of weeks ago here


    6 Aug 19 at 12:20 am

  3. I will hate to see the signs on the building go. It was one of the few things that gave the area any kind of a collegiate "feel" aside from the sign atop the old Big Bird.


    6 Aug 19 at 6:40 am

  4. Wow, how did I miss that posting (Mediterranean by Al Amir)?


    6 Aug 19 at 1:41 pm

  5. Give it time...I'm sure USC will tear it down like everything else and build some condo's or something for more college kiddies to live in. If USC could, they would take over the entire West Columbia side of the River and all of downtown too. I remember going into this book store a few times back around 1980-81.


    6 Aug 19 at 10:37 pm

  6. While large malls and big retailers are hurting, the University produces tons of revenue. Thousands of students and faculty members buy/rent housing, support local restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations. Things could be worse than replacing an outdated building.

    Like Ted, I would get mechanical drawing and circuit design supplies from this store, and I was happy to find them. Amazon was not around in the 70s.

    Joe Shlabotnik

    7 Aug 19 at 8:32 pm

  7. Last time I went in looking for a decent engineering notebook, their main focus seemed to be apparel.

    Dan R

    10 Aug 19 at 6:25 am

  8. It did still smell the same as I remembered. This was the first place I went to ever when I first came to Columbia in 1992. I bought a few pairs of those old mesh Champion shorts, with Gamecocks on the left leg. Every school had them back then. I traded 1 pair to a friend for some Radford ones, where he went, and another to my brother in law for some UVa ones. Still went occasionally since moving back in 2006, but they seemed to have less each time. Still had a lot of books, and some pretty sweet deals on apparel, and memorabilia, but Addams and Russell House rule in that area pretty much anymore. Plus, now G&B is gone. Will miss the old building if they destroy it, and I wonder what happened to the “office” door with all the stickers?


    11 Aug 19 at 1:11 am

  9. Ted, I wasn't alive in the 1980s and only frequented the bookstore 2011-2014, but let me assure you: it smelled the same.


    27 Aug 19 at 9:28 am

  10. Ted, this place said they bought back textbooks, but more times than not, they would give you nothing, and say that the books were the "old editions". After one semester, I took 5 textbooks back to them, and they wouldn't buy back any of them. They did offer to take them and "discard" them for me. I gave them a big, fat NO and told them I owned them now and can't get any money for them, so they're staying with me. It was aggravating because they had signs up everywhere that said "Cash back for textbooks". Nowadays, you can rent textbooks for a fraction of the cost. Still hate to see this place go. A landmark for sure, but progress is good, also.


    27 Aug 19 at 4:51 pm

  11. Folks this building is being demolished...


    30 Jun 20 at 2:53 pm

  12. @Andrew welp, rip


    30 Jun 20 at 7:16 pm

  13. Andrew beat me to it. I rode by there today and was thinking, oh man, I have to tell Ted.


    30 Jun 20 at 11:00 pm

  14. I'll have to get by there soon. The State story says it was built in 1930. I wonder what it was in the beginning.


    30 Jun 20 at 11:21 pm

  15. @ Ted. The 1927 City of Columbia directory says this site was a grocery store owned by a J. H. Scarboro who lived at 1109 College.


    1 Jul 20 at 6:36 am

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