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Browz-A-Bit, Dutch Square: 1980s   6 comments

Posted at 9:48 pm in historic,stores

Browz-A-Bit was the "second" book store in the old Dutch Square, with Waldenbooks definitely being the "first". I'm a little hazy on the exact location of the store, but it was on the Bush River Road side of the mall, and I think was a bit up the "hill" from Woolworth's.

In the early 70s my mother would often drop me off at the mall while she and my sister went off to do something different. I guess I would have been around 12 or 13, old enough to have stayed home alone, but I always liked the Dutch Square experience. At the time, I had a weekly allowance of $0.60, and could earn $3.00 mowing the lawn, so I would have a few dollars in my pocket to hit the bookstores.

Sometimes I would walk down to the old Book Dispensary location in Boardwalk Plaza on Bush River Road, but mostly I would hit Waldenbooks and Browz-A-Bit. While Walden's had the "legitimate" book trade cornered, with hardbacks (which I would never be able to afford), some depth in stock and the current New York Times bestsellers, Browz-A-Bit tended more towards "men's adventure" (Doc Savage, The Destroyer, Nick Carter etc), TV tie-ins, the sensational (they seemed to be big on "Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Phrophet!") and the non-book: Hallmark cards, little gifts, the Weekly World News etc..

While I can still remember very well some of the exact books I bought at Walden's during those days, I can't do that for Browz-A-Bit. I feel sure I would have gotten some Doc Savage books there (and if you only saw the cheesy 70s movie, you should seek out the original pulp adventures, the best of which are cracking good yarns).

If I recall correctly, the store was set up with two rows of wire books racks on the left side of the shop with the greeting cards and knick-knacks on the right side of the store and tabloids by the cash register, which was in the middle-front of the store.

I'm not really sure when or why Browz-A-Bit closed, but I think it was in the 80s, well before the big box bookstores came to Harbison (or indeed to Columbia at all). Maybe it would have helped to have called it Buy-A-Bit instead..

Written by ted on March 23rd, 2009

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6 Responses to 'Browz-A-Bit, Dutch Square: 1980s'

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  1. The Browse a Bit location is now a Hallmark store.I think the only original store left in that mall that is still in its original loction is Chik-Fil-A.

    Tom

    24 Mar 09 at 8:57 am

  2. Also the Rogue, but you're right, it's pretty sparse in there.

    Jonathan

    24 Mar 09 at 9:18 am

  3. I could be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure that Hallmark Store, Rogue, and Chick-Fil-A are all original and in the original spots. Chic-Fil-A did get rebuilt and expanded back in the 90s when the mall got a significant facelift. Radio Shack is still there, but not in the original location; used to have the bigger spot that is first on the right coming out of what was Whites.

    ted, maybe in your archival searches you can find an original layout of Dutch Square. Alternatively, you could post a blank layout so we can try guessing what was where.

    E.J.

    24 Mar 09 at 7:11 pm

  4. Well, Browz-A-Bit was a "Halmark" store in the same sense that Books-A-Million is -- it sold Hallmark cards, so if the Hallmark store is there now, that's sorta continuity.

    Yeah, I wish I had the original layout -- I could have taken a picture of the directory sign anytime, but such a thing never occured to me in the 1970s..

    Of course the upper end has been all redone.

    ted

    24 Mar 09 at 10:35 pm

  5. Yesterday it occured to me that one of the reasons why I feel so bad about the decline of Dutch Square is because at one time it was the home for several locally owned stores like Louries, Tapp's, Brittons, Berry's on Main, Cromers being the most notable. Heck, even JB Whites was based out of Augusta.Long time residents felt a loyalty to these places and vice versa, thus making Dutch Square a good reflection of our community.

    Now all we have in our malls are national chains that are here today, gone tomorrow with little loyalty to anything except the $$$$. And they are perhaps the biggest reason why most of the places I listed have gone out of buisness.

    Tom

    25 Mar 09 at 8:18 am

  6. Well there is a statewide chain in Tennessee called Mckay's used books. There is one in Chattanooga, one in Knoxville, and one in Nashville. The website is http://www.mckaybooks.com

    James Greek

    9 Jul 09 at 1:38 pm

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