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J. B. White / Belk, 3400 Forest Drive: 6 September 2023   11 comments

Posted at 10:49 pm in closing











I remember growing up, when this store was White's, the book department at the top of the escalator was one of my favorite places to browse as they would usually have a selection of Tom Swift, Jr books as well as random other interesting tomes. The escalator itself was cool because it was so narrow that you could grab each handrail and hoist yourself off your feet while you made the trip, all the while listening to the floor-caller making coded announcements like Five Nine, Five Nine!.

When they knocked the original Richland Mall down, they skipped this building, and it stayed on as White's until the chain went under, or was bought out -- I forget which.

After that, it became Belk, but honestly, this store has been getting ready to close for the past five years or so. It seemed as though every time I went inside, the place had been more hollowed out and threadbare. It started most notably on the second floor, especially after the doors to the far side of the mall were permanently closed and gradually continued up there until finally the escalator was shut down and the whole floor closed off. This is basically the path the Dutch Square store walked down. I can still recall how spooky it was to go up to the men's room there after the rest of the floor had been vacated.

Ahthough I haven't been in since the closing was announced, things were looking pretty sparse on the ground floor as well, the last time I went by. I'll try to get some inside pictures at some point during the process.

Here are stories on the closing from The State, WLTX, and The Post & Courier.

(Hat tip to Mr. Hat)

UPDATE 6 September 2023: Commenter Andrew notes that the place closed today, so I am updating the post title to note that.

Written by ted on August 15th, 2023

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

11 Responses to 'J. B. White / Belk, 3400 Forest Drive: 6 September 2023'

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  1. I went in there today. I say that about half the store was empty and most of what they had left was women's clothing. I would not be surprised if the store closes ahead of schedule.

    On a related note, I went to the Barnes & Noble and it was looking kinda rough. There were holes in the ceiling and ceiling tiles on the floor and it was the worse lit book store I have ever been in.


    16 Aug 23 at 4:31 pm

  2. Regarding Tom's comment about Barnes and Noble, they announced recently (same week as the Belk's announcement i think) that they were also closing their Richland Mall store, but are not leaving Columbia. The new store will be at Woodhill in the previous location of Bed, Bath and Beyond. No surprise they are not maintaining the old location. Apparently physical bookstores are staging a comeback. I always assumed if they closed at RM they would leave Columbia, but they are not. Of course this means RM is soon to be completely empty.


    22 Aug 23 at 12:50 am

  3. Is Bobby's Barber Shop still upstairs across from the old Lenscrafters? I had heard a year or maybe more ago that he was the last business inside the mall. You had to enter through the outside doors from the 2nd floor of the parking garage.

    I've thought about checking it out, but my service van won't fit into the parking garage entrance.


    22 Aug 23 at 9:56 am

  4. No, Belk and B&N are the last remaining businesses in Richland Mall. The interior has been completely closed off for the last year or so.


    22 Aug 23 at 10:34 am

  5. I have a recollection of it being mentioned here that the barber shop Matt asked about moving out into the ‘L’ shape building at 3407 Forest Drive at some point and that the interior of the mall has been closed off ever since since that barber shop was the last thing open in the mall itself…


    22 Aug 23 at 10:53 am

  6. Bobby's Barber Shop is closed. I talked to the barber, and he said that they never tried to get him to leave the mall, and in fact gave him the key so he could open the Mall during his business hours.

    He could tell which way the wind was blowing though, and decided to take a chair at Troy's Cutting Edge across the street when one opened up rather than waiting until he was told to get out.


    22 Aug 23 at 10:20 pm

  7. Glad to here that the barber was able to find a better place to move to.


    24 Aug 23 at 4:42 pm

  8. Folks I stumbled upon this WLTX blurb stating that Belk at Richland Mall is now officailly closed a quarter century (to the month) after transitioning from JB White* to Belk.

    * JB White was owned my Mercantile Stores, Inc. In 1998 the Mercantile Stores brand sold to Dillard's but then a barter trasnaction resulted in Columbia's 3 JB White locations becoming Belk in September 1998 (I was a 5th grader at the time and wasn't excited about seeing JB White go)...this closure means that Columbiana is the last one standing of those 3.


    6 Sep 23 at 9:42 pm

  9. Well, what do you know? I was thinking about stopping by this evening to get some pictures, but in the end didn't. I figured there was probably another week based on the amount of clothes I saw still racked driving by last week.

    I'll put the date in the post title.


    6 Sep 23 at 10:30 pm

  10. Seconding what Andrew wrote, there was an article in The State about Belk closing at Richland Mall, and it had a tidbit about Barnes and Noble's intentions at that location.

    I was living in Columbia attending graduate school when the JB White-to-Belk transition happened. This JB White was one of my favorite places to buy clothes. When Belk came in, what it carried didn't suit my tastes as well as what JB White had sold, and it made me sad a little. (Although, in fairness, a couple months back I did score a couple nice tops from the sale racks during what turned out to be a farewell visit.)

    I'm sad to see Richland Mall go, because it holds a lot of memories from a certain time in my life, but I've also been sad to see the place get more and more closed off and run down over the years, and each time I've come back has hurt a little more. At this point, perhaps it's better to finally put the place out of its misery.

    Jodie Peeler

    7 Sep 23 at 5:45 pm

  11. Barnes and Nobles shut down on dec 31 last year. Now the mall is completely empty.

    Matthew Benjamin

    14 Jan 24 at 7:07 am

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