I recall that when I was around 6 or 7, Midlands Plaza ran a promotion to get shoppers out during the weekend. There was some sort of ride to entice the children, and the whole thing was promoted on WIS radio. Midlands wasn't where we normally shopped, but I bugged my mother until she took me out to experience the much ballyhooed kiddy-ride. I can't remember what it was now except that it was small, groundbased and freestanding (to make it easier to transport from promotion to promotion, I suppose). I have the impression that it was supposed to hop around the parking lot, but really it didn't matter, because they could not get it started. Apparently there was a gas motor in there somewhere, because they kept pulling on a lawn-mower-like starting cord, and occasionaly the thing would sputter a few strokes, but it would never fire up. And that is a metaphor for the history of Midlands Plaza.
I don't know if this is actually the case, but Midlands Plaza seems to have been conceived as a sister site to Trenholm Plaza (perhaps even the reverse was true?), with a Post Office and A&P anchoring a choice corner site with easy access from major roads, but for some reason the place exhibited a failure-to-thrive for most of the period I can remember. Certainly it was in bad shape by the 70s, bottomed out in the 80s, and has currently come to terms with a post-retail mode of operation.
It is rather appropriate that A&P was the anchor store for Midlands, since that chain itself underwent a similar experience during the same time period. It used to be the case that you could find A&P's distinctive, steeple capped, stores all around Columbia and other area cities. You can still often find the buildings, but the chain itself has withered away. I think part of it was the fact that while grocery stores were getting bigger and bigger, A&P was entrenched in small sites, and didn't make any effort to build bigger until they had finally been leap-frogged by newer chains. Of course for that to happen bespeaks a certain complacency at the management level, perhaps best exemplified by the last A&P advertising campaign that I can recall: A&P: Putting Price & Pride Together Again. It's always risky to run a "we were wrong" campain, and much more so to run a lame "we were wrong" campaign.
After the failure of that campaign, and the closure of the stores at Trenholm & Midlands Plazas, the only other A&P activity I saw in South Carolina was the attempt to establish a "Supercenter" in North Myrtle Beach, something that might have worked if they had done it before Kroger and other big stores moved in, but which in the event went under after no more than a few years. So, with over a hundred years in business, the legacy of A&P, at least in South Carolina, is the (confusing to youngsters, I'm sure) reference in the Waitresses classic "Christmas Wrapping":
A&P has pride in me with the world's smallest turkey..
The store at Trenholm Plaza was torn down and replaced with a Publix, the store at Midlands Plaza became, for a time, Giant Food World (invoking nightmare images of boxcar sized potatoes, and Sequoia-ish brocolli), then I think became a furniture store and finally became empty (but the steeple and wether-vane have withstood the ravages of the years..)
UPDATE: Added picture of old A&P on Sunset Drive.
UPDATE: Added picture of old (but re-roofed & de-steepled) A&P on the Charleston Highway
UPDATE 4 April 2013 -- Well, I wish I had made totally separate posts for all the old A&P buildings, but I was still kind of feeling my way along way back in 2008. That aside, the Midlands Shopping Center A&P building is now gone. Below are pictures from mid 2012 and then March 2013: