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Beltline Drive-In / Sam's Club, 1401 Sunset Drive: 1998   26 comments

Posted at 12:47 am in Uncategorized

Now I may be misremembering this, but I think that this vacant storefront on Sunset Drive between SC-277 and North Main Street was Wal-Mart's first attempt at a warehouse-store. Wal-Mart was not really on my radar at the time, and the details are very fuzzy in my mind, but I just recall hearing that this store required you to buy a membership and that they had huge lots of everything. Wal-Mart later refined the concept into Sam's Club, but I don't think this building was ever a Sam's Club per se. I'm not sure why though I would speculate that the location is not ideal.

Though they are apparently trying to sell it, Wal-Mart still owns the property. Occasionaly I would see Wal-Mart 18 wheelers idled there, and from the signage, the chain used (or uses) the place to sell used store fixtures. I wonder how recent the DHEC "A" rating on the door is?

UPDATE 15 March 2011: It's clear now that this was, in fact (contrary to my recollection), a Sam's Club, so I have updated the post title. Also there's some discussion of closing dates in the comments. 1998 seems likely to me.

UPDATE 20 January 2012: Finally added Beltline Drive-In to the post title.

Written by ted on January 15th, 2009

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26 Responses to 'Beltline Drive-In / Sam's Club, 1401 Sunset Drive: 1998'

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  1. Before the WalMart plague hit that location, it was a drive in.


    15 Jan 09 at 6:34 am

  2. It was converted into a Sam's Club, at least from the late 80's until around 1996, before they built the Sam's Club locations on Harbison and Forest.


    15 Jan 09 at 9:09 am

  3. That was the Beltline Drive-In theater till about 1985. It's the one my high school gang frequented. We'd go in big groups and be very rowdy. Many of us had pickup trucks and we'd park backwards and sit in the truck bed and make a real party of it. They had great cheeseburgers and didn't seem to care if you brought in coolers of beer.

    There was a train track right next to it, and when a train roared by you could not hear the movie.

    Readers may be interested in this site about SC movie theters, including drive ins:

    Here's a list of drive-ins:


    15 Jan 09 at 9:16 am

  4. "Beltline" Drive-In? Did Beltline go all the way to Main in those days? Now it stops at Farrow Road.


    15 Jan 09 at 2:12 pm

  5. Yeah, I can confirm that it was a Sam's club in the mid 90's.


    4 Feb 09 at 4:53 pm

  6. Well, I could be wrong about it being a "prototype" Wal-Mart warehouse store. Maybe it was always Sam's Club. That's still the way I remember it though..


    5 Feb 09 at 1:29 am

  7. Mr. Sam Walton himself attended the opening, in the mid 1980s, and bought a $75 sports coat.
    This was one of the first Sam's stores.


    5 Feb 09 at 8:02 pm

  8. The "Beltline Drive In" was indeed physically located at a Sunset Drive address. Guess there wasn't room in town for two "Sunset Drive Ins."


    6 Feb 09 at 2:51 pm

  9. Beltline Drive-In was the last of the drive-ins from what I remember..though I think the one on 2 notch was still there in the 80's also. Too bad they tore it down and built Sam's there..and you see what happend to that.


    12 Apr 09 at 6:21 pm

  10. Great drive-in in the late 50's. Went there lots as a teenager. The Seaboard railroad track was right behind it and the Silver Meteor going to New York would come thru about 9:00.


    1 May 09 at 2:38 pm

  11. The theater went hard core in the 60's. This was before x-rated drive-ins used flood lights to prevent passerbys from perusing the night's feature film. It allowed my first glimpse of womanhood for the brief seconds it took to drive past the theater. For a pre-teen, it was more of a curiosity and an attempt to understand why my parents were upset when I didn't look away when they told me too.


    14 Jan 10 at 12:07 am

  12. The building was built as Columbia's first Sam's Club and was closed when the 2 current Sam's were opened.


    14 Jan 10 at 9:28 pm

  13. From what i can remember the Beltline Drive-in didn't go hardcore. You must be thinking of the Sunset drive-in farther down the road.


    10 May 10 at 12:41 pm

  14. Yeah, I can remember it being around in the mid 90s. It seems like it was still there around the 1994-96 timeframe


    10 May 10 at 9:11 pm

  15. I can recall it being there in the ~1994-96 timeframe so your title should say 1990s...and yes it does seem like it was a Sam's


    10 May 10 at 9:13 pm

  16. I can remember this being a Sam's when I was in Elementary School back in the 1994-96 timeframe so it definitely was a 1990s closing


    10 May 10 at 9:14 pm

  17. I can remember this being around in the mid-1990s when I was in Elementary school...but I drive by it now and wonder what will come of it


    10 May 10 at 9:16 pm

  18. Great to be reminded of the Beltline Drive-In. Beltline did, indeed, stretch from North Main to Devine Street in those days. Never went porn, though. That was the Sunset Drive in a few blocks west of North Main street. The theater owners used huge lights to prevent anybody from seeing the screen from the road. The Beltline advertised $1 a carload and we would pile as many people as we could into the car--and the trunk--for the movies. When I was very small, our parents would bring us to the Beltline for hamburgers and cartoons before we fell asleep in the back of the station wagon! On one very sad occasion, I was at the Beltline with friends when a train came through. As always, we hollered and carried on at the sound. it was just a few minutes later when we heard the sirens and saw the flashing lights. A family returning from the State Fair had been hit by the train.


    14 Jun 10 at 11:34 pm

  19. Beltline Drive-in, one of my favorite places to take dates from 1972 until 1978 when I got married, The first time I took a date there I was only 15. Wasn't even suppose to be driving after dark at that age. Geeeze I must have gone there a hundred times, great food, plenty of hanky panky in the back seat. And I think they showed some pretty good movies there, didn't watch a lot of the movie.


    16 Jan 11 at 4:30 pm

  20. This was indeed a Sam's Club. I remember when they had to change the name on the building from 'Sam's Wholesale Club'to just Sam's Club because legally, technically is was not a wholesale club, but a bulk retail outfit.


    16 Jan 11 at 8:32 pm

  21. I think this closed in 1997:

    Staff Writer
    Wal-Mart's future in the Midlands is multiple.

    The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant is weeks away from opening a Wal-Mart SuperCenter in Lexington and is in the midst of constructing a SAM's Club store next to its Harbison Boulevard SuperCenter.

    Add to that Wal-Mart's announcement last month that it will be building a SuperCenter in Winnsboro and plans to move the Sunset Drive SAM's Club to a facility to be built near its Forest Drive Store...

    Published on 1997-05-08, Page B8, State, The (Columbia, SC)


    15 Mar 11 at 2:04 pm

  22. The Sunset Drive Sam's moved to the Forest Drive location some time after the Forest Drive Wal-Mart SuperCenter. These preceeded their Harbison counterparts so it may have been somewhat earlier than 1997.


    15 Mar 11 at 4:17 pm

  23. Well, The State quote Andrew gives means that as of 8 May 1997, this Sams Club had not moved, and the implication is that work had not started on the new building for it on Forest Drive ("to be built"). Given that May is about half way through the year, I'd say it couldn't have moved before 1998.


    15 Mar 11 at 11:06 pm

  24. I misread it I guess--I thought that the Forest Drive Sam's was built before the Harbison location.


    16 Mar 11 at 5:15 am

  25. Anyone know what should go here?


    13 May 16 at 7:17 am

  26. I saw some doors blocked when I went two days ago. Something is possibly in the process of making.


    19 May 16 at 9:54 am

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