I was saddened yesterday when I heard that The Book Dispensary at Boozer Shopping Center had closed. As it turns out, like Mark Twain, reports of its death have been exaggerated. (OK, I suppose this is no longer the case for Mark Twain..).
In fact, Columbia's Book Dispensaries have always been a bit peripatetic. The one in the Northeast has had three locations that I can think of, Two fairly close to each other on Two Notch Road, with one stint in the former Winn-Dixie plaza on Decker Boulevard.
I don't think the one near the VA in the Big Lots plaza ever moved before closing, but this one will now have had at three locations. My memory is that it started at Boardwalk Plaza. Boardwalk Plaza was on Bush River Road, somewhere between the K Mart and I-26. The place was called Boardwalk Plaza because all the stores were connected via a raised wooden deck rather than sidewalks. Looking back on it, I think that may be because they were basically in trailers rather than real buildings set on the ground. I could be wrong about that, but whatever the configuration, the plaza was entirely gone by the 1980s, though I can't identify exactly which buildings replaced it.
After leaving Boardwalk, the Dispensary moved to this location in Boozer. As you can see from the pictures, it is actually a fairly large space, indeed larger than I remember though that's not too surprising since the book shelves would have always broken up the view.
As I mentioned in Have Your Say, I used to spend a lot of time in this store (and the first Two Notch location). I would go through the entire science-fiction section book by book, running triage on the books I wanted vs the books I could afford. I would always check out the humor section as well, looking for old books of cartoons, and the juvenile section looking for original series Tom Swift books (though these were becoming collector's items during that period with the prices climbing accordingly).
You can also trade in old books at the Dispensary for store credit, but in general I never could bring myself to part with much of anything, even books I regarded as real stinkers.
I'm afraid my patronage of the Dispensary dropped way off in the late 80s. There were a number of factors, some specific to me, some general. Firstly, I moved out of town. Secondly, I got a real job, and could generally afford to buy any new book I wanted (within reason). Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, there was the Internet. Whereas I used to spend hours going through the shelves at used bookstores and the cutout bins at record stores, now I can find almost any book ever published with a few mouse clicks. There's still the possibility of seeing a book I didn't know beforehand that I wanted at a store, but it's no longer the norm...
Anyway, I wish them luck at the new location, and will try to get over there and check it out at some point.
(Hat tips to commenters Tom & Thomas)
UPDATE 7 May 2010: Well, The State says that the new location is consolidating the Boozer and Two Noch stores, with the Two Notch store already having been closed. I did not know that! I guess it really has been a while since I've been in a BD.
UPDATE 4 June 2012 -- Here (finally!) are some shots of the new location at 710 Gracern Road (parallel to I-126):