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Holly Farms Chicken / The Mailbox Etc, 2768 Decker Boulevard: 1980s   10 comments

Posted at 11:06 pm in business,historic,restaurants

This non-descript outbuilding in the ill-fated strip mall which now houses mainly The Comedy House was the first "mailbox" operation I ever saw outside of the Post Office. I don't think it was actually called The Mailbox Store, but that was the gist. The idea was fairly simple, but new (at least to the Columbia market): The store would provide a unified reception service for all your mail and packages. This differed from the service you get with a Post Office P.O. Box in that you in addition to "mail", you could also have UPS and other services deliver packages to the address, and a representative would sign for them in your stead. (Nowadays, UPS will just leave stuff on my porch, but I think they used to be more strict). I guess the main appeal was to on-the-go small businessmen who couldn't always stay in one place to receive important packages, and didn't have the staff to detail for it. I had their brochure at one time, but never actually went in the store -- I imagine they also did shipping and packing.

I'm not sure what happened to this outfit. I think the niche is viable, it's amongst the services the UPS Store offers today, but for whatever reason, I think they folded after a couple of years. I believe there was another operation in the storefront before the Army recruiting office that now occupies it set up shop, but I can't recall what it was.

UPDATE 4 May 2009: It appears from the comments that this place was a Holly Farms chicken restaurant before the mailbox place, so I have updated the post title accordingly. Apparently Tyson bought out Holly Farms in 1989 -- up until then, there was a NASCAR event called The Holly Farms 400 and after that it was called The Tyson Holly Farms 400 (though according to wikipedia that is now also defunct). I am sure however that this Holly Farms was gone before 1989 because I can remember the mailbox place from when I was in college.

UPDATE 5 May 2009: The consensus in the comments is that the mail service was The Mailbox Etc, so I have changed the post title from Mailbox Store to reflect that.

UPDATE 21 May 2009: Turns out there is still a sign for the (long departed) store on the Decker side of the strip, so I have added a picture of it above.

Written by ted on May 3rd, 2009

10 Responses to 'Holly Farms Chicken / The Mailbox Etc, 2768 Decker Boulevard: 1980s'

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  1. I believe that building was originally a Holly Farms Chicken Restaurant. A fast food establishment. I remember going to that place around 1980 during a high school field trip.

    George

    4 May 09 at 12:18 pm

  2. Yep. It was a Holly Farms 'til the mid 80s. I think this business was called "The Mail Box Etc," which is slightly different from the "Mail Boxes Etc" stores that UPS bought, so they may or may not have been affiliated. That business at this location was open definitely into the late 90s, and maybe even into the early 2000s.

    badger

    4 May 09 at 12:48 pm

  3. I had not heard "Holly Farms Chicken" in quite sometime. This building very much reminds me of the current dry cleaner place on St. Andrews Road, going up the hill on the left side, across the street from the Hillside restaurant, in the same shopping center as the old TJ Maxx. It was Johnny's Jungle for a while some years ago, but very well could have been a Holly Farms, based on the architecture. Anybody remember?

    Jonathan

    4 May 09 at 2:53 pm

  4. The Mail Box Etc. was an independently owned business run by a brother and sister. I believe originally they were located across from Columbia Mall on Park Lane in the mid '80s and around 2000 they moved into the corner location of this same shopping center. I was working for a company out of Spokane, WA at the time and used their packing/shipping/copy/fax services. Nice folks. I don't know where they are today. When UPS gained 51% of the controlling interest of Mail Boxes Etc. they changed the name to the UPS Store. About this same time Staples began handling UPS packages and by the early 2000s all the independent shipping stores had folded.

    Terry

    5 May 09 at 2:59 am

  5. I worked for Holly Farms chicken restaurants in Charlotte in the late '70s and early '80s. The building displayed in the picture certainly matches the architecture they used when building their restaurants. Holly Farms was a NC chicken producer that ventured into retail restaurant sales in Charlotte, Rock Hill, and Columbia. Not sure what other cities they might have operated in. I remember 2 stores in Rock Hill (Saluda St. and Cherry Rd), several in Charlotte, and 1 on North Main in Columbia along with other Columbia locations. Nice clean reliable restaurants but never as popular as KFC.

    Preston Lewis

    24 Mar 10 at 1:28 am

  6. There were definitely 3 Holly Farms Restaurants In Cola.
    in the early 80's the Decker location, St. Andrews road &
    N.Main St. I worked @ all three, seems like there may have been a fouth behind Allen Univ.

    Rick

    18 Jun 10 at 12:18 pm

  7. There were definitely 3 Holly Farms Restaurants In Cola.
    in the early 80's the Decker location, St. Andrews road &
    N.Main St. I worked @ all three, seems like there may have been a fourth behind Allen Univ.

    Rick

    18 Jun 10 at 12:19 pm

  8. Wow I am looking for the receipe for Holly Farms fried Chicken Livers. They were the best. I noticed that one of you used to work for them. Any ideas how the made them. Thanks Chuck Finch

    Chuck Finch

    30 Jan 13 at 5:49 am

  9. Wow I am looking for the receipe for Holly Farms fried Chicken Livers. They were the best. I noticed that one of you used to work for them. Any ideas how the made them. Thanks Chuck Finch

    Chuck Finch

    30 Jan 13 at 5:49 am

  10. I know of at least two Holly Farms restaurants that were around 'til at least the mid to late 80's up here in Northern Virginia.Both were located next to/on the parking lots of Safeway grocery stores!One was in Arlington on Wilson Blvd. and the other one was in "Downtown" Mclean on Chain Bridge Rd..That was some goooood chicken!

    Andy

    5 Aug 13 at 8:14 pm

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