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Toys 'R' Us, 7201 Two Notch Road: 1990s   47 comments

Posted at 11:12 pm in closing

For a while, the Dentsville area had two big-box toy stores as well as a couple of smaller storefronts inside Columbia mall. I can't remember the name of the first of the big ones to go, but it was in the same little plaza on Decker Boulevard and Trenholm Road Extension that Winn Dixie was in and that The Comedy House is in now. As I recall, the closing caused a lot of brouhaha and local ill-will because the place timed their closing to be after Christmas shopping and before Christmas returns. It seems to me there was another way in which they did customers dirty in addition to that, but the details escape me at this remove.

At any rate, you might have expected that with the entire "destination toy store" market in the area now ceded to it, Toys 'R' Us would have prospered and have had some incentive to stay put, but that proved not to be the case. Since I wasn't really a toy shopper at the time, I didn't pay much attention to where the store went. I just figured it had joined the general flight from Dentsville and the Decker Corridor to somewhere down Two Notch. However, doing a quick online Yellow Pages search, the only location I see in the Columbia area is near Columbiana Center. I know I'm certainly not driving out there for toys -- not when there's Amazon.

The building has never had another tenant since Toys 'R' Us departed. It appears to be in fairly good shape (some minor tagging, but only on glass) though the architecture now looks a little dated. Unfortunately, with the upcoming closing of Dillards, I can't see that any first tier replacement will be willing to locate at Columbia Mall any time soon.

Update 27 Jan 2010: Well something is happening at the old Toys 'R' Us building. From the work going on, it would appear that something will be going in there:

UPDATE 1 April 2010 -- Looks like the Virginia College Career Center is ready to open:

UPDATE 13 February 2021: Changing "Columbia Mall outparcel" in the post title to the full street address, updating tags and adding map icon.

Written by ted on October 30th, 2008

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47 Responses to 'Toys 'R' Us, 7201 Two Notch Road: 1990s'

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  1. I see that "FAG" graffiti all over downtown, surprising to see it way out in the Decker area.


    31 Oct 08 at 12:05 am

  2. Interesting. I haven't seen it, but then I don't spend that much time downtown. Is it always mirror-reversed like that, or is that in "honor" of the backwards 'R' in Toys 'R' Us? There was a good bit on the old Newsome Chevy World building on Beltline. Always hate to see it.


    31 Oct 08 at 12:48 am

  3. Unless there was another Toys R Us in the Columbia Mall area, this one was open through 2004 or so, because I bought something at the Harbison store for my son, and it was missing a piece, and I drove over to the Cola Mall store to purchase it because they had another one.

    As far as the other toy store, I'm not sure if they had one in Columbia, but there was a Lionel Toy World in Charleston. I remember in 1977 or 1978, I was in there and they had the KISS "dolls." My mom never would have bought me one, but I sure would like to have mint ACE now.


    31 Oct 08 at 8:42 am

  4. The one on Decker and Trenholm Rd. Extension (before the extension was built) was in fact a Lionel Playworld. Their cheesy TV jingle was "At Lionel Playworld, turn a frown upside down". I believe it opened around 1985, but the Toys R Us came along around 1988 and it closed not too long afterwards.


    31 Oct 08 at 8:47 am

  5. You guys sure that other store wasn't Tons O' Toys?


    31 Oct 08 at 9:55 am

  6. 2004? Well, doing this blog has proved to me again and again that my sense of time & duration stinks. I sure would not have said it closed that recently, but I've been wrong lots of times before.

    I think I would have remembered "Lionel Playworld" if only because I have a Lionel train in the attic. Tons O' Toys sounds familiar. If I recall correctly, they had a really annoying rhyming TV jingle, and after the last rhyme, an elf character would say something like "Toodley-Oop!".


    31 Oct 08 at 11:27 am

  7. It was certainly Lionel Playworld, I remember the store well. It was the first real big toy store in Columbia. Lionel Playworld was owned and operated by Lionel Corporation. After they sold their train assets to General Mills, Lionel began opening toy stores Lionel Playworld being one of them. The whole company closed in 1993 although I think this Lionel Playworld closed in the 80s. I think a wholesale bookstore moved in for a while after they closed suddenly.


    31 Oct 08 at 11:39 am

  8. 2004 sounds about right. I remember the halloween after it clossed, it was one of those Spirit Halloween stores.


    31 Oct 08 at 11:59 am

  9. Another vote for 2004. I remember having to go to Harbison because this Toys R Us was slowly starting to run out of any worthwhile toys, simply because they weren't restocking.


    31 Oct 08 at 3:10 pm

  10. Tons of Toys was on Harden Street in the old Sears building.

    Incidently one of the current owners of the Lionel Train Company is rock legend Neil Young. He has been an avid fan and collector of Lionel trains and is trying to revive the comapny.


    1 Nov 08 at 5:54 am

  11. Yeah, the F is always backwards. It usually includes a few flowers, too, not some guy yelling it.


    1 Nov 08 at 5:31 pm

  12. Before Lionel/Toys R Us, Tons O' Toys in the former Sears/future Food Lion on Harden was the "big toy store" I remember marveling at going to as a kid. Still, most of my stuff came from a local place called (I think) Toy-Mart that was run by a married couple. Concrete floors, no A/C, but they always stocked all of the latest stuff in the late 70's/early 80's. He would do special orders for my mom and she'd get on a waiting list for any of the new up-and-coming cool stuff my spoiled brat self told her I really needed to have.


    2 Nov 08 at 10:08 am

  13. "There's millions of toys for girls and boys...Tons O' Toys.....Toodley Oop." Or something like that. That is certainly close enough.


    3 Nov 08 at 10:02 am

  14. wasn't there a tons of toys on broad river or maybe bush river road? The place on Decker was Lionel playworld and they did close around christmas of 88. Toys are us actually agreed to take returns from playworld. I think the Toys are us at harbison does pretty well but I've heard that the whole company was in trouble.

    Mr Bill

    12 Nov 08 at 4:05 pm

  15. Wow, this brings back some memories. I hadn't thought about Tons O' Toys or Lionel Playworld in a looong time, but I have fond memories of both from my childhood. I believe previous posters are correct in that Tons O' Toys was on Harden where the Food Lion is now and Lionel Playworld was on Decker.


    6 Dec 08 at 2:57 am

  16. Remember Service Merchandise??? There was one on Broad River Rd and another near Cola Mall where Value City is.. You use to have to fill out your product order and take it to the counter for most large items.. and someone would go get it from the back of the store. All are closed now.. the building on Broad River may not be leased even to this day.. its in a real bad location from a retail perspective

    No Joke U

    18 Dec 08 at 4:39 pm

  17. ted

    18 Dec 08 at 4:42 pm

  18. While you are on the toy subject... I was a model train fanatic in my youth.. I remember Snipes Toys and Hobbies on Taylor Street between Main and Sumter on the side of the street that the SC Community Bank is on. I believe it later moved to Trenholm Plaza and then closed. Nice old guy ran it..mostly trains, model planes and those Estes or something to that effect Rockets. We used to back those gun powder laced cardboard cylindars full and attach it to a battery and Wammo.. send those suckers to the moon. There was also Leisure Time Toys in Columbia Mall that was the equivalent today's KB Toys. Cromers also used to have a nice shop in Dutch Square with live monkey running around in an elevated glass case at the back of the store.. and who could forget the Barrel of Fun Arcade next to JB Whites.. man those were great times.

    No Joke U

    18 Dec 08 at 5:03 pm

  19. The two big model rocket companies were Estes and Centauri. That was one thing my father put his foot down on. Apparently some people blew themselves up with amateur rockets in the 50s, so I never got to have any model rockets (with "amateur" & "model" being in fact completely different as far as safety went). I remember one store which sold them was in that little strip on Forrest Drive that now has the shoe repair place.

    Eventually I will have a Cromer's post.


    18 Dec 08 at 7:14 pm

  20. Yes they were quite dangerous.. we did have a couple of "misfires" but we knew to stay well away from the launch site. They used to have a little metal key that you would stick in a launch button that was connected to one of those large flashlight batteries. If the light came on you were good to go... plenty of wire to make sure you were well away from the rocket. Two other stores I just thought of were the Dutch Door Hobby Shop in Boozer Shopping Center and "Playtime" or something to that affect that was in the wing of Dutch Square where Burlington is located. Dont know if many hobby shops in Cola now.. may be a sign of the times and the changing taste towards video games etc

    No Joke U

    19 Dec 08 at 9:02 am

  21. I remember Snipes well. Some of my Boy Scout friends had a little model rocket club and we were in there all the time buying Estes stuff. We figured out one day that you could launch them using firecracker fuses instead of all that battery and ingiter wire stuff, and that you could just stick a stiff wire in the sand to shoot them from. We always did it at a big vacant lot that was just a few acres of sand out on Percival Road. Lots of fun.

    I went to Snipes the week they closed and got some great very old toys "mint in the box" that he had buried back in a storage room. Sold them on ebay 15 years later for good money!


    19 Dec 08 at 10:55 am

  22. Dennis, you mentioned Boy Scouts.. I am certain you remember the Boy Scout section at the Belk's downtown where the Cola Museum of Art is now... They used to have quite a selection. Main Street was on the decline then.. but at one time there was even a Macy's on Main Street.. in the all my Miami Vice lavender and pastel clothes there...its now some form of office building. Used to go downtown at night and marvel at those large "shopping center" battleship lights that used to be between Gervais and Laurel.. back then those lights were one of the most notable features of the Columbia skyline though somewhat repulsive..

    No Joke U

    19 Dec 08 at 4:37 pm

  23. hi,
    sorry to chime in on your conversation about lionel playworld but i am an old disciple of playworld and am gathering as much info as i can on the playworld end of it. if anyone can give me the address of the playworld that you are talking about please do. you can reach me here: thanks for any and all help. will


    6 Feb 09 at 12:01 am

  24. Well, I keep meaning to give Lionel Playworld its own post, but the address is "2768 Decker Blvd, Columbia SC", or at least that's what The Comedy House which is in the old Playworld building uses. You can see a picture of the building here


    6 Feb 09 at 12:15 am

  25. thanks for all of the help on this particular former lionel playworld. i'll be in touch and if you get any more before you see me trapsing around the boards feel free to send it to me. very classy to answer so fast and to give without a reason, thanks a bunch, will


    6 Feb 09 at 3:06 am

  26. oh man, i remember going in here looking for nintendo games ALL THE TIME! you walked in, go a little to the right and then straight back and there they were! some games would be sold out for weeks at a time but if you figured out when the trucks came you could sometimes get lucky and snipe one.


    11 Mar 09 at 2:42 pm

  27. oh, and, holy crap - lionel playworld. never in a million years would have remembered that. nice.


    11 Mar 09 at 2:49 pm

  28. I hated how you had to time it just right to get those games. They probably did that on purpose to drive demand up. I think that's what they've been doing with the Wii for a couple of years now. They had that wall with pictures of games and no effing tickets.

    Mr. Bill

    11 Mar 09 at 3:01 pm

  29. What's up with the dyslexic homophobe who tagged the front window?

    Mr. Bill

    11 Mar 09 at 3:02 pm

  30. lol, you don't know how close i came to writing about those dang tickets under the picture of each game! they were always out!


    12 Mar 09 at 1:43 pm

  31. Lionel Playworld actually went out of business in 1991. I had a tape of a newscast from WCPX TV Orlando and they reported that Lionel Playworld filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

    James Greek

    30 Jun 09 at 1:43 pm

  32. With Snipes, the old man that ran the place was a crochity (can I say that) old fart. He always was in a bad mood everytime I went there and didnt like kids being in his store (this was back in the 60's). In the Old Sears building in 5 points where Food Lion still is, before it was Tons of Toys it was originally Colonial Grocery Store. There was Tons of Toys on St. Andrews also where Babcock is or was now. Do anyone remember the Slot Car racing places here in Columiba back in the early to mid 60's? There used to be one in the Kmart parking lot on Ft. Jackson Blvd, but dont remember the name of it..the building is still there though. I heard too that Columbia Mall will be closing due to no customers to speake of anymore and most of the businesses are closed or will be closing including Sears. I wonder what they will do with the building once it closes? It's too big for anything to move in. Cola. Mall never did do THAT well from the get-go. It never did have the popularity that Dutch Square used to have. I wonder who's next on the "endangered" list??


    2 Jul 09 at 8:19 am

  33. Del,

    Where did you hear this?


    2 Jul 09 at 11:06 am

  34. I heard about Cola Mall from a very reliable sorce from someone that used to work there. I used to work there too back in the mid 82's at Penny's, Belk's and then MusicLand.


    3 Jul 09 at 8:00 am

  35. Meant to say, I worked there in the mid 80's...I dont know what the "mid 82's" is..hahaha!


    3 Jul 09 at 8:01 am

  36. Well, I guess he's paid to have a "game face", but the Columbia Mall guy doesn't sound like there're packing it in in this State story.


    10 Jul 09 at 12:48 pm

  37. I dont believe that Cola. Mall is doing all THAT good. Without the main anchors of the Mall and with Sears moving (so I heard), there's really nothing else in the Mall to keep it going. Richland Mall is a dead place, Columbia Mall is a dead place. The only Mall that seems to be doing good is Columbiana Center..but with the way things are in the economy, you never know who will be the next to fall or close.


    13 Jul 09 at 9:29 am

  38. Its not closing anytime soon. My friend is a regional manager for a store in the mall and he told me they just signed another 10 year lease. I'm not going to mention the name of the store. He also told me out of all the stores he has that the one in Columbia Mall historically is in his top 3 in the region over the last 20 years. He is even amazed at that because of the appearance of the mall and seeming lack of traffic, but the numbers don't lie. The ToysRUs closed in '06 I believe.


    3 Jan 10 at 10:33 am

  39. This building is becoming some sort of college.


    2 Mar 10 at 9:45 am

  40. @Jamie - this building is now the site of Virginia College.


    25 Mar 10 at 8:49 pm

  41. They closed because the guys that own all the toys r us decided to close 87 stores and 12 of those stores will turn into babies r us. This happend i think 2005 or 2006 I remember buying my barney the dinosour movies there.


    14 Sep 10 at 3:28 pm

  42. Yeah, this store closed in like 2006. Due to the fact that I was born in 1998, and my nephew was born in 2004 and I can remember going Christmas shopping for him in there. :) Hope this helps!


    3 Jul 11 at 2:38 am

  43. Joey

    30 Mar 12 at 7:34 pm

  44. I hated it when they closed this Toys R Us. I just personally don't care for the Harbison area so we just shop what little there is locally.

    Miz T

    21 May 12 at 1:34 pm

  45. mbt shoes uk

    25 Jul 17 at 7:40 am

  46. Well folks Toys 'R' Us has been rumored to be filing bankruptcy and it's now official...

    For now they're going to remain open but I did recall saying that lease rates ran them out of a flagship store in NYC (so as things currently stand, their 140 Columbiana Drive store will continue to operate as it currently does)...


    19 Sep 17 at 1:19 pm

  47. It was Tons of Toys. As I recall, it closed in 1988 or 1989 on Christmas Eve in the era of Lay Aways. Customers arrived that morning to make the final payments on the toys for their kid's Christmas presents and the doors were lock up tight with no warning. Most unethical business dealing I've ever seen. You'd think they'd want to be open that day to collect the layaway money and clear their stock.

    Teresa Cannon

    19 Sep 17 at 11:24 pm

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