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The Book Dispensary, 1601A Broad River Road: May 2010 (moved)   10 comments

Posted at 1:54 am in Uncategorized

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):



Written by ted on May 7th, 2010

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10 Responses to 'The Book Dispensary, 1601A Broad River Road: May 2010 (moved)'

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  1. I heard they buy used books and was wondering if anyone here knew if they still do or not


    11 May 10 at 9:17 pm

  2. Andrew, I think that's one of their primary sources, the other being estate collections (though I don't know for sure).

    I don't understand the logic of their new location on Gracern, though. I don't see it as having anywhere near the same traffic as the Boozer site. The only reason I can think of that might apply is that the Gracern store may have enough space to accommodate both of the old stores.


    25 May 10 at 3:21 pm

  3. The new Gracern store is different than the other locations in that instead of 1 big room, the place is divided into sections, or genre rooms, for different genres. For mystery lovers, theres a mystery/suspense room, a romance room, a fiction room, and a collectibles room. It reminds you of an old-school store. Neat!


    31 May 10 at 2:02 pm

  4. I love the new location! It's very homey and my paranormal romance titles are all in one room! It's so nice not having to elbow people out of the way to get to my favorite books!!! The staff are always friendly and helpful. Highly recommended!!


    31 May 10 at 2:13 pm

  5. They were forced into the move; a former employee told me the owner stopped paying rent at the other places and was evicted. They've got problems.


    1 Jul 10 at 10:46 am

  6. Mark, it's not nice to spread untrue gossip. They were not "evicted"...I was their neighbor for many years. They had to leave because the landlords kept raising the rent....look around and notice how much empty space there is on the property...Heroes and Dragons was the 1st to move, and Manifest almost moved also.


    2 Nov 10 at 11:57 am

  7. Why not shop local and keep the $$$$ in South Carolina??

    James r

    3 Dec 10 at 11:34 am

  8. I agree with you James local and keep the money in SC. is convenient, but keeping our money with local entrepreneurs who employ the people of our city is very important. We need our local businesses to survive. By shopping online rather than supporting our local businesses, we would be contributing to our own local unemployment, and declining local commerce which is already taking a hit in today's internet high-speed world. On a personal level, by shopping on the internet rather than supporting our local merchants, we are inclined to become less active than ever. Think about this. Going out shopping with the spouse is entertainment like none other; you can learn a lot about each while shopping together. On the other hand, you don’t need to have anyone tag a long; getting out doing something by yourself has its benefits, too. Slow down, take some time to go shopping.
    I have met some interesting acquaintances while shopping that have lead to profitable real-estate sales, not to mention I’ve made some excellent business contacts, in general. If we all shopped on the internet, we'd be missing out on some of life's richest opportunities and life experiences.
    Talking about the Book Dispensary ~ I, for one, enjoy the experience of patronizing this used book store; especially with the new location being conveniently off the beaten path. I feel the new location is a plus for me; still convenient, but not in a busy shopping area.
    I am pleased with the additional services that the Book Dispensary offers, too. I have recently lost a large collection of books in a fire and they are assisting in helping me replace some of these in my library. They have also restored several other books that survived the fire. Through this same book restoration and binding service it was extremely handy when I wanted a special gift for my Dad. They were able to take Dad's old Bible and give it life again, so he could continue to use it with all his original notes and verses underlined.
    We all need to do our part to make sure we continue to ‘shop local’ and keep our money in South Carolina. We need to make sure that special and unique businesses like the Book Dispensary continue to survive.
    PS. Ted. I enjoyed your article very much. I too have shopped the Book Dispensary for years and am pleased to say, I still do.

    JC Keeton

    23 Feb 11 at 7:11 am

  9. @JC Keeton. What a great post!!! I had no idea that the Book Dispensary offered such services. Your post probably did more for their business than a full page ad in the newspaper would have done. Problem is, there are some stores that maintain a local name, but are in a fact a corporation. One particular record store that resides in Boozer comes to mind. You may think you're shopping local, but there really is no difference between them and Best Buy now. You would never know, until you try to special order a title and are notified that ALL requests for orders have to run through corporate first. Now for a TRUE independent business, shop on Greene Street.

    I purchased a subwoofer on Amazon a few years ago. They had the exact model in HH Gregg, which is a corporation, but at least the money would have stayed in Columbia. I tried to get them to match the price, which they would have done at Sandhills, but did not do at Harbison. I guess they did not need the money that bad. I think we all would enjoy shopping local more, but there are exceptions. I had another experience at a shop trying to buy a helmet for my son. They wanted ABOVE retail!!! Who pays over retail, much less above retail?? Shops like that, I don't need them, even if they are locally owned.


    23 Feb 11 at 2:56 pm

  10. Amen to that, Johnny! I love the Book Dispensary! Theres a nice lady there who reminds me of my grandma and a chubby guy that's always smiling and asking if anybody needs help.They are both nice but the guy SERIOUSLY needs to shave his sideburns!!Who is he, John Adams?!?! LOl anyway It actually looks MUCH better than it did when it re-opened last summer. Highly recommended!


    26 Feb 11 at 1:09 pm

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