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Peaches Records & Tapes, Harden Street: 1994   41 comments

Posted at 12:10 am in historic,stores

As the Christmas season rolls round once more, I am put in the mind of Peaches Records & Tapes. Peaches was a record store chain whose "gimmick" was their easy-to-assemble kits of LP storage boxes. These were of wood and made to mimick retro peach shipment boxes complete with vintage appearing art. (Brian Wilson & Van Dyke Parks had an excellent album Orange Crate Art inspired by the same conceit).

Peaches had only one location in the Columbia area, a large space on the College Street side of the old Sears complex on Harden Street. The store had the not entirely positive distinction of having turnstiles, bag checks, and other theft prevention measures that were quite unusual at the time, but once you got in, it was quite nice. Although they did have a tape section (that's where the whole And Tapes thing came in), their main focus was vinyl, and they had quite an interesting selection. Possibly it was due to their Columbia location being close to USC, or simply that they had more floor space than The Record Bar or School Kids, but there seemed to be a higher possibility of finding something really interesting there than at those other shops.

They also had a large collection of "cut-outs" (new, but discontinued records) through which I loved to browse when I had the time and money (money was definitely in shorter supply than time..). I remember in particular finding an album by the German group Trio which had the killer songs "Da Da Da (I Don't Love You, You Don't Love Me)" and "Boom Boom" which as far as I could tell was available nowhere else in Columbia other than the studios of WUSC.

I mentioned up front that the Christmas season made me think of Peaches. That is almost entirely due to the fact that they were the only store in town which stocked Christmas 45s in depth. Then as now, Christmas albums started popping up everywhere, record store or no as the days turned to fall (though I think they usually waited at least until Halloween was over in those bygone days...). Christmas 45s were a bit more rare however. Of course you could find this year's Christmas songs at The Record Bar, but classic Christmas singles hardly ever. Starting in the late 1970s on cassette, I had been building a Christmas song program, adding and rearranging things a little every year as I found more of the music I wanted. Today we would call it a "mix tape". Anyway, I remember finding a number of tracks in their Christmas single collection that were impossible for me to find otherwise. The Temptations "The Night Before Christmas" for one, Elton John's "Step Into Christmas" / "Ho Ho Ho" for another and Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" for a third.

As far as I can gather, Peaches made a very bad business decision in the 1980s: They believed that the CD format would not catch on. As it turned out, this was very much not the case, and by the time they saw the writing on the wall, it was too late to retool and the chain went bankrupt. (Of course, even chains that bet on the CD have been killed by downloads, so Peaches would probably be gone now in any event).

After the chain folded, their (almost completely glass-walled) store stood empty on Harden Street for years. It stayed intact for longer than you might expect, then windows started being broken, and the thing became an eyesore. Finally when the old Sears strip was revamped for at least the second time, they knocked down the whole Peaches building, and put up the current Office Depot structure. I guess they shook the tree.

Special bonus content!

Here's the final lineup for the Christmas Mix, which took about 20 years to finally source completely from CD:

001 The Ronettes Sleigh Ride

002 The Roches Deck The Halls

003 Frank Sinatra Christmas Waltz

004 The Four Seasons Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town

005 Bing Crosby Silver Bells

006 Jo Stafford Baby It's Cold Outside

007 Jeff Foskett Some Children See Him

008 Bobbie Helms Jingle Bell Rock

009 Ertha Kitt Santa Baby

010 Elton John Step Into Christmas

011 Andy Williams Happy Holidays

012 Jo Stafford Moonlight In Vermont

013 The Whos Welcome Christmas

014 The Waitresses Christmas Wrapping

015 The Nutcracker Suite Dance of Something

016 Burl Ives Holly, Jolly Christmas

017 Elton John Ho Ho Ho

018 The Carpenters Merry Christmas, Darling

019 Jo Stafford Winter Wonderland

020 Darlene Love Marshmallow World

021 Vince Guaraldi Christmas Time Is Here

022 Jo Stafford Sleigh Ride

023 The Beach Boys Santa's Beard

024 Frank Sinatra Jingle Bells

025 Nutcracker Suite Dance of Something Else

026 The Drifters White Christmas

027 Burl Ives Silver & Gold

028 Louis Armstrong Zat You Santy Claus?

029 The Temptations Silent Night

030 The Beach Boys Winter Symphony

031 Instrumental We Are Santa's Elves

032 The Beach Boys Little Saint Nick

033 Tex Beneke Merry Christmas Baby

034 The Temptations Roudloph TRNRD

035 Bing Crosby White Christmas

036 Jo Stafford Let It Snow

037 Nat King Cole The Christmas Song

038 Bruce Springsteen Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town

039 Ray Stevens Santa Claus Is Watchin' You

040 The Kinks Father Christmas

041 The Toys Island of Misfit Toys

042 Jo Stafford I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

043 The Roches Good King Wenceslas

044 Frank Sinatra Time For Mistletoe & Holly

045 The Beach Boys Holy Evening

046 The Crystals Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

047 Brenda Lee Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree

048 Frank Sinatra Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

049 The Ronettes Frosty The Snowman

050 Vince Guaraldi Linus & Lucy

051 Nutcracker Suite Dance of a Third Thing

052 Burl Ives Rudolph TRNRD

UPDATE 11 October 2009: Changed closing date in post title from "1980s" to "1994" based on comments.

Written by ted on December 10th, 2008

41 Responses to 'Peaches Records & Tapes, Harden Street: 1994'

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  1. Wonder whatever happened to the big painted portraits of rock stars that were all over the building.

    Dennis

    10 Dec 08 at 5:56 am

  2. Equally important, what happen to the wall where all those musicians had signed their names?

    At the time, Peaches was the best record store in Columbia.

    Tom

    10 Dec 08 at 9:17 am

  3. Another contributing factor to Peaches' demise was the opening of the 2 Best Buys.

    Mike

    12 Dec 08 at 6:42 pm

  4. Are you sure? I thought Peaches was long-gone by the time Best Buy arrived..

    ted

    12 Dec 08 at 7:05 pm

  5. I would put Peaches' death date in 1994. I bought several CDs there in the fall of 93, and it was gone soon after. The Best Buys descended on SC sometime in the early 90's.

    Alex

    12 Dec 08 at 8:35 pm

  6. Are you sure? This New York Times story suggests the chain went Chapter 11 in 1981 and this Flickr caption suggest that Chapter 13 followed in 1982.

    ted

    13 Dec 08 at 1:21 am

  7. Hmm, I guess I have to retract that, at least for the local store. A search of The State's archive suggests that the local store was definitely still open in 1989, and possibly in 1992 (I can't get the whole 1992 article without paying $5).

    ted

    13 Dec 08 at 1:36 am

  8. I think I remember the store being open until around 94 as well. I started USC in Fall 94, right when Best Buy opened. I remember Peaches closing around that time because there was also the "Coconuts" at Columbia Mall... I always thought it was weird how they were both named after fruit!

    Dave

    13 Dec 08 at 4:46 am

  9. Your Christmas mix is awesome BTW!

    Dave

    13 Dec 08 at 4:51 am

  10. Thanks! The weirdest place I ever found part of it was the Rudolph TRNRD soundtrack LP at Sears!

    Not a big fan of Coconuts

    ted

    13 Dec 08 at 2:42 pm

  11. I know in Winston-Salem,NC (which is where I am from)that Peaches stayed open until at least 1994. I would take this to mean that some of the stores were able to hold on a little longer than others.

    I still have a Peaches T-shirt that I still wear on occasion.

    Chani

    14 Dec 08 at 6:48 pm

  12. What about the peach-scented incense wafting throughout the store?! Mmm, can smell it now.

    Midnight Rambler

    16 Dec 08 at 1:58 pm

  13. I worked at peaches in Atlanta in the 70's and they were the best. Its ironic that vinyl is now making a comeback and Manifest in Columbia saw it and Sounds Familiar didn't and now they are closing. Its so sad to watch good things die.
    Cashbox Magazine was defunkt for 10 years and now has made a remarkable comeback on line. I own it and I have a great staff. At least hopes and dreams will never die and Cashbox this time around will be here a very long time.

    bruce elrod

    7 Jan 09 at 10:44 pm

  14. an added comment. I am 60 now and my parents had one of Columbia's early record shops at the corner of U.S. 1 and Alpine Rd. I have pictures of that. We sold Atlantic gas and folks would drive up and ask for 45's or Lp's and pay at the pump. I remember getting two 25 count boxes from Brown distributors in Columbia os the Beatle Butcher Cover Lp. In the 60's I was afraid to sell it and returned them. Was this the dumbest thing I ever done in my life. You Betcha. Columbia had a black record shop somewhere on Harden or Taylor, Meri's Record Shop at Richland Mall, Tri-City Music in West Columbia and the Country Record Shop next to WCAY in Cayce, besides the chains at GEX, Zayres, and yes, do you remember Silvers and Kress. Silver's actually still had 78's for sale from the buyout of Bradford's which is probably Columbia's first Record Shop.
    I remember and have pictures of myself sitting on nipper. Now you younger folks have a history of early Columbia Record Shops

    bruce elrod

    7 Jan 09 at 10:55 pm

  15. In my opinion, vinyl will never be more than a niche, but since it can't be downloaded it can be a niche that makes money. The question is whether a market the size of Columbia has enough of those niche customers to support a store. I suspect it doesn't, but there's no reason a brick-and-mortar store couldn't serve a national market through amazon and ebay.

    Good luck with Cashbox!

    ted

    7 Jan 09 at 11:04 pm

  16. There was a drugstore in Abbyville still selling 78 needles in the late 70s -- I got several packs for my victrola.

    Somewhere I have a bag from the record-store in Columbia where my father got Sinatra's "High Hopes". The bag copy made a big deal out of their "listening room".

    ted

    7 Jan 09 at 11:06 pm

  17. bruce elrod -- you mentioned Zayre's and I was transported. As far as I can tell you and I may be the only people who remember it! It's now the City of Columbia's garbage truck garage!

    Dennis

    8 Jan 09 at 9:40 am

  18. I love vinyl. I have mixed feelings about the sound. I think some of them do sound better than cd but for me it's more about nostalgia. I also prefer the larger artwork. Once the old cd longbox went away and all we were left with was the tiny cd booklet it just wasn't the same. I always buy vinyl editions when I can find them. I really love how newer albums will actually come with the cd or at least a certificate to download the mp3s, that way you have the portability.

    Mr Bill

    8 Jan 09 at 11:48 am

  19. I remember Zayres as well. I was actually on Colonial Blvd the other day and was looking to see if the building was still there.

    ChiefDanGeorge

    9 Jan 09 at 5:45 am

  20. I have about 20 original 6'x6' billboards including James Taylor, Carly Simon, Three Dog Night, Waylon Jennings that hung outside along with Peaches crate labels and other Peaches memorabilia.

    Tom

    18 Jan 09 at 5:41 pm

  21. Some time in the 90's I received a gift certificate from Peaches as a Christmas gift. I didn't get around to driving down there for a few weeks and when I did get there the store had closed.
    I called them and they had a phone number on a recording for their corporate office in Florida. The person who answered the phone said simply mail in the gift certificate to their FL location and they would refund a company check. I figured I would never hear from them again but much to their credit they promptly sent the refund check to me.

    Terry Edwards

    20 Jan 09 at 1:49 pm

  22. Speaking of nostalgia, I totally forgot to inform everyone that I bought Cashbox Magazine in 2006 and our headquarters are in Ridgeway, S.C. If you want to have fun go to http://www.cashboxmagazine.com. All the current news and charts are there but I Love the Archives the best. Every Cashbox chart from 1950 is there. And you can click on the jukebox and play the top 50 songs of any year and its all free. Have a good time.

    bruce elrod

    7 Feb 09 at 11:23 pm

  23. I don't recall if I found them at your site or elsewhere, but I used the Cashbox charts from 1956 to make a mix of the top songs of their wedding week for my Aunt & Uncle's 50th anniversary a few years back.

    ted

    7 Feb 09 at 11:37 pm

  24. The Building that's there now IS Peaches..it's a little revamped and I think the back half was torn down, but the main part of it is still there. I worked there for a year or there past it. Peaches had it's main office in Florida, and when they went under, they closed the store here in Columbia and didnt tell the employees until they showed up to work that morning back in 1994. It sat empty for a very long time. I dont remember what happened to the signature wall, but it wasnt there when I worked there. That part where Peaches was is the original part of the Garden area of Sears, and where they kept all the toys at that time and they also had a grill in there also where you could get hamburgers, fries and cokes..but I dont remember all that well since I was more concerned about what the latest Hotwheels car was back in the 60's to early 70.s

    Del

    12 Apr 09 at 7:51 pm

  25. I remember my dad and I bought a James Taylor tape at the peaches in Altamonte Springs, FL. And I remember the last time I saw a Peaches was on Airport Blvd. in Mobile Alabama. I totally miss it

    James Greek

    13 Jun 09 at 10:20 pm

  26. I have a 6x6 billboard of Robert Plant (from the cover of the 'Now & Zen' album) that came from one of the Richmond, VA Peaches stores in the early 1990's. I'm curious to know what the value of these paintings are today.

    Jan

    23 Aug 09 at 3:27 pm

  27. I worked for Peaches from '82 to '01 @ many locations including assisting columbia store invs prior to '94 closing. Peaches had 2 lives. 1st in 70's til '81/'82 when the original owners went bankrupt & sold the name/logo. the 2nd life was primarily the SE region of US w/some "franchises" (denver, NOLA, etc) that weren't part of the corp. In late 80s the relationship 'tween labels & retail outlets soured, labels set up deals w/electronic/appliance outlets (Best Buy/Circuit City) to bypass music retailers. The "Best Buys" sold CDs @ cost in trade for advertising sold to labels in their weekly sales flyers. Peaches HQ never grasped that days of selling hits in qty were thru & reacted by cutting staff & inv (tossing out service & selection). Instead of prioritizing the inv no one could find & a knowledgeable staff to make suggestive sales, they stuck to a BAD business plan (even going so far as to restrict our USED CD inv to Top 500 list that competed w/our model inv). Many mom/pop stores still exist simply because they focused on deep catalog/obscurities, used CDs & the instant gratification aspect of shopp'g w/hip staff. The download era was the final nail, wiping out nearly ALL music retail chains. Peaches was already mortally wounded going into the download era and expired. I have several of the exterior "artboards". I miss the camaraderie of working with the staff and customers. I despise the HQ for sinking an
    amazing employment opportunity with stubborn ignorance.

    bongo the wonder pony

    11 Oct 09 at 12:11 am

  28. parting words - thanks to all of you who remembered Peaches and your kind words. it was a whole lot of fun while it lasted and the customers were ALWAYS a huge part of the party.

    bongo the wonder pony

    11 Oct 09 at 12:16 am

  29. I was in Old Mill Antiques today on State Street, and there was a Peaches crate for $15, minus 20% off. The logo was kinda ripped on the side that was showing, but the other side might have been okay, or maybe not... There was stuff piled on top of it, but I did not turn it around. I thought somebody on this board was looking for one, hence the post, but I don't see that now.

    Jonathan

    16 Dec 09 at 5:34 pm

  30. So Bruce... you had 50 1st State Butcher Covers back in June of 1966? Would you like to know what they are worth now sealed? just at and between 5-8000.00 dollars and up now. Now you can scream really loud. Thought you might like to know.

    Del

    8 Feb 10 at 5:33 pm

  31. Oh..Zayer's was still around in the early 70's from what I remember along with GEX and Sam Solomon's. The Atlantic Thrift Dept. Store was still around then too.

    Del

    8 Feb 10 at 5:35 pm

  32. Saw Marshall Crenshaw there in 1983....he was having a record signing event....it was just like Spinal Tap, not a soul in the store except for him, me, staff and maybe two other customers!

    Scott Johnson

    29 Aug 10 at 10:39 pm

  33. Just visited New Orleans a couple days ago and discovered that there is one remaining "Peaches" store. I don't know how much this store has held over from the early days as I'd never been to one but it was still cool to see it. I picked up an old Jefferson Airplane while I was there.

    Brandaddy

    9 Apr 11 at 12:16 am

  34. In I think about 2000 or early 2001, I was shocked to see a Peaches on Palmetto Park Rd. in Boca Raton. I actually turned the car around and went in it, and it was *exactly* how I remembered the one in Five Points -same peachy smell et al.

    I just googled it, and it's apparently no longer their as well.

    OverMachoGrande

    22 Jul 11 at 1:02 pm

  35. The most amazing thing I remember about Peaches was one of their employees circa the early mid 80's. I thought the guy looked familiar but had to do a second take after reading his name tag. It was none other than punk rocker Richard Hell of the Voidoids. Couldn't believe he was working in Columbia as a record salesman after having at least one hit punk rock album but it was him!

    Ned Harkey

    24 Dec 11 at 11:12 am

  36. I worked at Peaches in Ballwin, MO from 1981 til 1986. They went bankrupt because of their lackadaisical attitude towards returning albums that had been cutout (discontinued). Their inventory was so huge that they needed to be very diligent in staying on top of the deadlines for returns, and when they didn't get the albums returned in time, they were stuck with them. Eventually, they had to sell those at a loss if they could even get rid of them at all. So much inventory writeoffs caused cash shortages and resulted in bankruptcy.

    But it was an awesome place and it was a fantastic job, helped by the people I worked with, from the boss to the part time cashier! I still see them all to this day. See the website.

    Steve Lane

    12 Nov 12 at 10:49 pm

  37. Yes, those pictures are very much as I recall the interior of the Columbia store looking!

    ted

    12 Nov 12 at 11:54 pm

  38. Steve Lane and ted -- what website?

    Dennis

    13 Nov 12 at 7:10 am

  39. Dennis. Click on my name for the website.

    Ted-thanks for your website. It's always fun to flashback to those good ol' days, and for some reason, the memories come back stronger around Christmas time for me also. It's no coincidence I found your website as we approach the season!

    Steve Lane

    13 Nov 12 at 12:56 pm

  40. @Steve -- You're welcome!

    ted

    13 Nov 12 at 11:48 pm

  41. I remember the Peaches logo was an oversized peach... And the radio jingle went something like this: Peaches, a lot of music, a lot of store!"

    Does anyone else remember?

    Dee Dee

    25 Jan 13 at 4:59 pm

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