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Myrtle Square Mall, Kings Highway (Myrtle Beach): 2006   18 comments

First let me note that although no description of Myrtle Square Mall would be complete without the famous clock, I did not take that picture. It appears in the Wikipedia entry for the mall, and has been explicitly released into the public domain.

What can I say about Myrtle Square Mall? For many years, it was the mall on the Grand Strand and the "general" shopping destination on any beach trip. To be sure, there were outlet and specialty malls like Waccamaw Pottery, but MSM was the "it" place.

As kids, of course, The Pavilion was first in our hearts and minds, but over the years we took many trips to the mall as well.

It had a different mix of retail than anything in Columbia, with anchor stores I never saw elsewhere like Peebles as well as standard stores like Sears and Eckerds. For me, the main attraction was the book store just off the clock court. I cannot now recall the name, but it was either completely independant, or part of a small chain that never opened in Columbia, and I found that it had an interesting selection of science fiction books that I didn't see elsewhere. Recall that in those days the only books you knew about were the ones you saw on the shelves -- there was no Amazon where you could search for any book in the world, or that would recommend books to you based on your previous purchases. I can particularly recall finding there a a Virgil Finlay collection I had never heard of, and had no clue existed. Finlay was an old-school SF pulp illustrator who had an amazing black & white line and stipple style that was unsurpassed (in my opinion) until Stephen Fabian came on the scene, and in retrospect I think Finlay's work has aged better than Fabian's. Anyway -- I bought the book :-)

The record store (whose name I have also forgotten) seemed to have slightly different selections than the Columbia stores as well.

Apart from the stores, obviously I have to say something about the clock. It sat above the central court, and was a marvel of conceptual design. The version pictured above is in fact one of the later versions -- the first version had 60 colored balls suspended from the ceiling in a circle with suspened numbers (similar to those pictured) at every five minute mark. The bulk of the balls were one color, with the ones at the five second intervals being another. As ever second passed, another ball would illuminate until all 60 were lit at which point they would all go dark and the next numeral would be illuminated for the current minute. Hmm, or maybe the numerals were for the hours and there were seperate balls for the minutes. At any rate, you could sit there and watch the time pass before your eyes so to speak. It was not a particularly easy clock to read -- it always seemed to take a minute to figure out just what was lit, but it was a fun clock to read.

I remember a number of interesting solo trips to the mall. The first was when I had just started to drive. My mother and I had gone to the beach to winterize the beach house, and having done that, she agreed to let me drive while she walked on the beach. Well, that's an always risky permission to give to a teenager, and I headed straight to the mall, despite it being a 25 mile drive one way. I had no particular goal other than I was, by gosh, going to drive, but I did end up getting some Trixie Belden books for my sister's birthday from Sears of all places. Needless to say my mother was not pleased at being ditched for three hours longer than she had planned to be...

Another trip to Sears years later (and near the end of the store's life) for dryer parts also yielded a trove of retro flashlights of the kind I grew up with, and which I thought were no longer being made -- I still have four or five.

I'm unsure why Burroughs & Chapin decided to deep six the mall. Certainly it was somewhat dated, but that could have been fixed by a remodel. I suppose access was an issue, but it's not like there's an Interstate in Myrtle Beach, -- the replacement mall at Coastal Grand may have slightly better traffic at US-17 bypass and US-501, but it's not a slam dunk.

At any rate, by 2005 most of the stores had made the transition, and in 2006 they started knocking Myrtle Square Mall down. The fact that B&C owned the replacement mall meant that Myrtle Square never went through the "death of the old mall as the new mall draws stores and traffic" phase. It was not in B&C's interest to eake rents out of Myrtle Square while firing up Coastal Grand.

On the other hand, they seem not to have had any Plan B for the Myrtle Square Mall site. Currently the huge tract bounded by 23rd & 27th Avenues North on the north and south sides and Kings Highway and Oak Street on the east and west sides stands vacant (as does the other large B&C tract at the old Pavilion site). It's hard to believe that two such prime tracts in the heart of Myrtle Beach have sat vacant for so long. (Well, not completely vacant -- there's still an Office Depot which must have had a long term lease, and I saw signs of homeless presence in the bushes).

You can see more Grand Strand memories here.

UPDATE 16 June 2011: Added link to full 10 August 2010 photoset.

Photoset 10 August 2010.

Written by ted on January 13th, 2011

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18 Responses to 'Myrtle Square Mall, Kings Highway (Myrtle Beach): 2006'

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  1. I too have fond memories of this mall as my wife is from the Beach and her father used to run a store in it.

    The record stores in the mall in the 80s were Record Bar and Tape World. The only book store I can remember there was Walden's.

    B & C had massive plans in the 1990s for redeveolping the site and some nearby property on Oak Street but when the economy started going south in the early 00s they were abandoned, In fact the new mall, origianally to be called "The Mall of SC" was dramatically scaled back in size.

    Incidently, I have seen Peebles stores all over SC & NC usually in markets smaller than Columbia.

    Tom

    13 Jan 11 at 8:59 am

  2. Interesting Tom..

    Hmm. I know the book store at the time I'm recalling (1970s) was *not* Walden's, as we had those in Columbia (at Dutch Square and Columbia Mall.

    We also had Record Bar so I may well be recalling Tape World.

    ted

    13 Jan 11 at 11:06 am

  3. The book store might have been B. Dalton's. Back then, there were usually two book stores in a mall. I remember the arcade was Magic Caverns, and it had a rock face which was grey, that looked like boulders.

    The clock did have small balls that lit up for the seconds, then bigger balls that lit up for the minutes. Nowhere else could I construct a sentence like that and it be relevant.

    I thought they were talking about moving the Pavillion there, but maybe not. I remember a Big Star grocery store and a Belk. I remember the Belk store had those disco tennis shoe roller skates, so that was the time period.

    Jonathan

    13 Jan 11 at 12:22 pm

  4. No, pretty sure it wasn't B. Dalton either -- I could always go to the one at Columbia Mall at home.

    Yeah, I kind of remember that arcade.

    I looked on youtube for videos of the clock, but there doesn't seem to be anything.

    ted

    13 Jan 11 at 12:40 pm

  5. Wiki lists "Paperback Booksmith," so that has to be it.

    Jonathan

    13 Jan 11 at 2:06 pm

  6. Yes! That's it!

    I guess I should probably actually read the whole wiki article since I'm linking to it :-) (and editing the external links..)

    ted

    13 Jan 11 at 2:15 pm

  7. @ Ted There was a Tape World at Columbia Mall on the upper level next to Belks, by the knife store.

    Record Bar became Blockbuster Music (or entertainment or something like that-it was connected to the then-thriving video chain.)

    Tom

    13 Jan 11 at 4:12 pm

  8. Huh. I remember record bar across from Lowrey Organs on the top floor and Musicland on the ground floor near Sears, but I don't recall Tape World at all..

    ted

    13 Jan 11 at 6:19 pm

  9. Tape World opened around 1988 . It was a small place that sold only cassette tapes and cds, no records.

    Tom

    14 Jan 11 at 10:13 am

  10. Ah, that was after I left town in 1985 then..

    ted

    14 Jan 11 at 11:01 am

  11. Great story, I enjoyed Myrtle Beach a lot when I went last summer upon moving to SC.

    I know for a fact Peebles still has several stores in SC, some quite within reach of Columbia, if ya wanna go to small ass towns like Newberry, Winnsboro, Batesburg-Leesville!!! :P

    Dustin

    24 Jan 11 at 10:09 pm

  12. Yep I live in the Irmo St. Andrews area and the 3 closest Peebles are in Newberry, Winnsboro and Batesburg-Leesville and regardless of which of those 3, it's a good 40 mins away for me...

    I'm kinda hoping Peebles opens up in the new Columbiana on Park but we shall see. My oldest cousin lives in Richmond, Va. and they have them up there and she likes them. My mom has gotten several Peebles coupons and so my cousin gets to use them...

    Andrew

    24 Jan 11 at 11:51 pm

  13. I asked my father-in-law who lives at Myrtle beach and who used to run a store in this mall what had happeened. he told me that the original plan was that when the new mall opened, the old mall one become a trade center that would compliment the nearby convention center. But when the economy tanked, those plans were abandoned.

    Afterwards, B&C decided that it was more cost-effective to just tear down the old mall than try to keep it up and hope that it would be used in the future or someone would buy it. Hence it's demise.

    Tom

    28 Jan 11 at 8:41 am

  14. Coastal Carolina held classes there from 2003 until it was demolished. Always thought it was a little strange going to class in a mall. Oh well, such is life :)

    Megan

    16 Feb 11 at 6:08 pm

  15. I heard there was an old race track where that brushy lot was near the south side of the parking lot. Before my time but would like to learn more.

    Heres a good Myrtle Beach site: http://htomc.dns2go.com/myrtle/default.htm

    Steve S

    20 Feb 11 at 3:06 pm

  16. That is indeed a nice link!

    ted

    20 Feb 11 at 6:57 pm

  17. I used to enjoy this mall. About the clock: Yes, the numbers were for the hours. There used to be large hands like on a regular clock, but then they were replaced with colored balls and, at some point, yellow tubes like fluorescent lights, which must have been for the minutes. Later they had clear balls. I used to like to watch them light up and then all go out, but they didn't ALL go out. One was always lit, and the second one came on two seconds after the others all went out. At the top of the hour, the same thing happened with all those yellow tubes.

    I went in Peebles after the new mall opened but didn't find what I was looking for. I still have a green jacket I bought there in 1982. It was so nice, but then it developed a problem which caused me to have to wear it for yard work. But it's still in as good a shape as it was 25 years ago.

    I have never given the new mall any of my business. Shame on B&C for letting this happen.

    George

    27 Oct 11 at 5:27 pm

  18. Canadian here. Went to Myrtle Beach on family vacations from around '81-84. Jonathan is right–the arcade was Magic Cavern, and let me tell you, it was a magic place indeed. I still think of that arcade now, thirty years later. Like the book store, the arcade had a bunch of games in it that didn't make it to my home town malls. Thanks for the memories.

    cb

    4 Jun 13 at 11:10 am

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