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Continental Sound, 7032 Two Notch Road: 1990s   11 comments

Posted at 11:25 pm in historic,stores

In a comment on a previous post commenter "Jonathan" identified this building on Two Notch Road across from Columbia Mall as Continental Sound. If not for that, I probably would just think of it as "that radio building".

The place is now some sort of loan operation called Cash -n- Dash and has been remodeled, so you can't tell it now, but at one time the whole front of this building was designed to look like a dashboard radio/cassette player. What is now the left star was then the volume knob, while the right star was the tuning knob. I believe the front windows did not have the opaque blue window then so they looked like a cassete insertion slot. I also believe that there was a digital tuning display above the windows. (Though they were not common in cars until later). In the beginning, it was set to "104.7" which was WNOK, which was a rock station at the time. Later, for whatever reason (advertising bucks, new manager whatever) the tuning of the building was changed to another station. My memory says it was WCOS, which was a country station, but I could be wrong.

At one time Continental Sound commercials were ubiquitous on Columbia television, so I really should remember exactly what they did. In fact I have only a vague idea that they sold and installed car stereos because the rest of the commercial was what drew my (and everybody's) attention. Their commercials were always tagged by a girl delivering the catch phrase Sounds Real Good! in a really appealing manner. I say "catch phrase", but I believe it was just meant to be a one-time commercial closing line, until she sold it so well that they went on to feature it in every commercial they did. Again, my memory may be playing me false as it often does, but I believe they actually used the same footage all the time, so perhaps the girl was never able to give the line the same oomph in later readings. Eventually, they did change it -- sort of. The original "sounds real good" girl was average looking -- perfectly OK, but not actress/model quality in the looks department. The final "sounds real good" commercials used a sexier girl who lip synched to the original girl's line.

I don't know what happened to Continental Sound. I think they folded or moved in the 1990s. Google suggests that after that the building was home to Big Apple Music which, I think, left the building's radio motif alone. I can understand why Cash -n- Dash wanted to change it -- it's certainly not what you would expect for that type of operation and would tend to confuse casual traffic, but it's still a shame to lose such a unique building. Though I suppose in a few years parents would have had to explain what a "cassette" was anyway..

Written by ted on October 18th, 2008

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11 Responses to 'Continental Sound, 7032 Two Notch Road: 1990s'

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  1. I recall the girl's voice as being very hicky. It was popular because it was funny. After the ad had become a local staple for jokes I saw a story about the girl. She was none to happy being the punch line for everybody in Columbia and related how it had pretty much ruined her life. Anyway, that's how I remember it.

    JP

    19 Oct 08 at 6:23 pm

  2. The girl in the ads who said, "Sounds real good to me." lived near my dad's house and was somehow acquainted with some of the older kids in the neighborhood. She definitely came off as a redneck, although I do remember later versions of the ads using a model who was dressed in an evening gown saying the tagline in a much more refined although still southern accent.

    larry

    22 Oct 08 at 3:26 pm

  3. I had a stereo installed in my Honda here back in the day. Back in the days Hondas came without stereos.

    jamie

    8 Jul 09 at 10:07 am

  4. hallelujah! i thought i'd never find out the name of this place - this is fantastic memory. i don't remember the sexy girl ads, just the original. wow, thanks for pointing me here. ahhh, another of life's mysteries solved.

    stacysaw

    26 Nov 09 at 8:16 pm

  5. Yes I remember the commercial first featured the girl saying "sayounds reeyul good" with a deep southern accent. Then they used the exact same audio with a different girl who had a lot of makeup on and she was wearing a sort of cheap rabbit fur coat trying to look glamorous and lip synced the original line but not that well. Thanks for the reminder about the building looking like a big car radio. I had forgotten about that. Drove by that so many times on way to swim practice. Wasn't it made to look like an Alpine car stereo which was all the rage at the time?

    Scott Long

    2 Mar 10 at 9:57 pm

  6. Does anyone know the name of the ad agency that did the "sounds real good" commercial? The original ad, before the one with makeup, is a classic, probably the most remembered commercial in Columbia.

    Aurel

    10 Jul 10 at 10:06 am

  7. I used to work at Continental Sound back in 1977 and 1978.
    Two brothers, John and David Hannah and a third partner, Merrit Climett were the owners. They came to Columbia from just outside Atlanta where they all worked for a car stereo shop there and wanted to be in business for themselves. They moved into an old ESSO gas station in late 1976 or early 77 that was owned by a Mr. Callahan, at the corner of Beltline and Two Notch road. They had some money but with the help of a SBA loan they were able to remodel the old gas station and expand. All three owners were motivated to succed and over the next few years they opened another store at the corner of Broad and Bush River roads and rented a building further up Two Notch closer to the Providence Hospital were they installed stereos for the local car dealers. Back in those days it was more cost effective for the local car dealers to order their cars without stereos and have one of the local car stereo shops, such as Continental Sound or Custom Car Stereo, install a stereo at a cheaper price than could be obtained from the car manufacturer, among other reasons. The commercial referred to begain with "$129.95 DOES IT ALL, an AM-FM cassette Player and Two Speakers Installed" At the end of the commercial testimonials were given by recent customers about what a good deal it was etc. Finished by a local girl with a "Southern Drawl" saying "SOUNDS REAL GOOD". This became popular around Columbia and even could be heard over sound systems at Discos that were cropping up fast in Columbia at the time. After a while there were legalities with Continental Sound using the girls likeness in the commercials and a new girl/model was shown with the old girls voice dubbed in. John Hannah loved the Charleston area and wanted to open a store there, which he did. And in 1983 started building the store across from Columbia Mall with the Radio on the front. The radio was an ALPINE which was all the rage among car stereo enthusist at the time. Inside the showroom of the new store was a new Porsche 944 with a good sound system used for demonstration purposes. John Hannah had always wanted to do that since the place he worked at in Georgia had done the same thing, if I remember correctly. The store at Broad River and the building on Two Notch used for car dealers were eventually closed and at the start of 1984 operations begain at the new store across from Columbia Mall. A Car Stereo Shop named "AUTO SOUND LAB" that was previously in Five Points, opened in the old location at Two Notch and Beltline. Business was good for awhile but other shops were opening in Columbia like Rogers Stereo, Nortons Stereo, and Custom Car Stereo was expanding. Circut City started selling and installing stereos and the Car Manufactures were getting savy to what the local dealers were doing by not ordering stereos in new cars, and reduced the price of the factory stereos to entice dealers to order factory stereos, and then just jacked up the price of other options, and a lot of that side of the stereo business went away. At some point and for some reason in the late 80s, Continental Sound pulled out and a Company out of Georgia that was a Wholesaler for Sony Car Stereo opened up in the building with the stereo on front to try and expand their core business. Since then, of course, that business has closed as well as Auto Sound Lab, Custom Car Stereo and Rogers Stereo, which I know a good deal about all three if anyone is interested. Apologies to all mentioned if some info is not exactly correct, it has been a long time ago.

    mark

    16 Jan 11 at 1:43 pm

  8. Thanks Mark!

    ted

    16 Jan 11 at 2:14 pm

  9. I was shocked to come across this post on continental sound. Since it has been so long, I never thought I would see anything related to that place. I had worked with John Hanna for a decade @ Continental Sound at 4220 Dorchester Road in Charleston, SC. We had some great times there; I will always remember two-notch when it looked like an Alpine car stereo, what a sight. It was really ashame when Hanna sold out to what's his name from Atlanta. The guy that started the Bostick line. John and Kris are great folks, even Merrit was a character. I do miss those days and can not believe that audio has gone to just spl as the criteria for the best stereos. What a great loss is that. Well, I am glad that I had this moment to walk down memory lane. I wish all of you that share in making Continental Sound what it was, have a good life and great memories as are mine.

    Richard

    27 May 11 at 7:07 am

  10. I got my first "real" car stereo from Continental Sound in high school. It was an Alpine CD player, Fosgate Punch 45 amp, infinity mids, jbl tweets, and 10' fosgate subs. The funny thing is, I went to College of Charleston and bought a Punch 150 amp and new CD player from the one on Dorchester Rd. that Richard mentions. It was at a big 5 way intersection or something as I recall. I still have both punch amps and they work fine. One is 25 yrs old, and the other is 22 yrs old.

    palmettopanic

    27 May 11 at 6:08 pm

  11. Actually, the place in Charleston was a custom car stereo.

    palmettopanic

    27 May 11 at 8:36 pm

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