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Woodhill Mall, Garners Ferry Road: early 2000s   42 comments

Posted at 11:39 pm in Uncategorized

Woodhill Mall was another of Columbia's hard luck malls. There were three of them which fell on hard times more or less together: Decker Mall, Bush River Mall and Woodhill Mall. Decker and Bush River were obviously "sister" malls, with similar designs, and both anchored by a Kroger on one end and a Richway on the other.

Woodhill had a different design and store mix though it did include a Richway as well. If I recall correctly, the layout of Woodhill Mall was basically a 'T' shape. If you stood on Garners Ferry road and looked down onto the mall, the 'T' would be laid on its side rotated 90-degrees, such that the crossbar would be perpendicular to Garners Ferry, and the "leg" would extend out to the left.

The anchor store at the top (nearest to Garners Ferry) of the crossbar was Tapp's, a local stalwart which was headquartered downtown, but which also had large stores at Dutch Square and Woodhill (and a small Tapp's Twig store at Trenholm Plaza). Continuing down the crossbar, were a number of stores that I can't recall, but also a book store, and a record store.

Where the crossbar hit the leg, there was a mini food court. I'm pretty sure there was a Chik-Fil-A there, and a small sandwich & burger shop which made The State's list of best burgers in town in the late 1980s. (I want to say it was called "Jonathans", but I'm not sure). If you continued down the leg towards Richway there was a video arcade, though it was never as good as some of the others in town.

It's hard to say exactly why these things happen, but for some reason, Woodhill Mall always failed to thrive. I suppose the closing of Tapp's was a big blow, but it was clear for years that the place was going downhill -- it was never unsafe or anything like that, but stores would close and not be replaced, or be replaced by one-off local stores which had no reasonable hope of surviving.

One thing that the mall did have going for it, for some reason, was it's Santa. Apparently a good number of people considered him superior to the other mall Santa's, for reasons which escape me now, but while that's nice, it's not enough to save a mall. At some point, the managers decided to embrace whatever would bring in a few dollars, and the whole back side of the mall was converted from retail to "self storage". They also opened a major recycling center behind the mall.

In the end, the only thing the mall had going for it was the remaining anchor (Richway which converted to Gold Star which converted to Target), and that wasn't enough.

I think it was early in the 2000s when I was in town and decided to take some old magazines and papers from my father's to recycle. I drove out to Woodhill Mall and found it totally gone! I was shocked, but not on reflection surprised.

Since then, the property has been redeveloped into an two upscale strips. The Target (it came back) strip apparently called just Woodhill, and a strip at the top of the old mall parking lot (against Garners Ferry) called The Shoppes at Woodhill.

I believe at this point, only the building with Hampton Hill and the old automated post office are left from the buildings of the original mall complex.

Written by ted on May 10th, 2009

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42 Responses to 'Woodhill Mall, Garners Ferry Road: early 2000s'

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  1. We used to go to Woodhill a lot in its last decade, mostly because it was so convenient for us. As it got more and more rundown we started calling it Landfill Mall.

    I could never figure out what was killing this shopping center because at times some stores were packed with customers.

    Originally there was a large nice Lourie's and Casual Corner, a couple of national chain shoe stores and a big Hallmark Shop. I also remember a big Eckerd's that later became Hampton Hill Fitness, CiCi's Pizza, and a very busy Baskin Robbins.

    We used to go often to Julie's Place right out front and hang out with Irish coffee by their fireplace since we didn't have one at home.

    A little more info heree:


    11 May 09 at 3:05 am

  2. The arcade was called Take Ten. I thought it was a pretty decent one. They always seemed to have pretty new games.


    12 May 09 at 5:09 am

  3. Hmm. Well maybe I just remember it that way because I went to it much less than some of the others.


    12 May 09 at 8:35 am

  4. Very interesting. i used to frequent those store all the time (my wife loves Winestyles)... I had no idea a mall had been there.

    Ever gone out to Midtown at Forest Acres (Richland Mall)? That place would be a gold mine! Pretty soon, you may be doing the entire mall... just like Woodhill.


    12 May 09 at 8:48 am

  5. I've done a few stores from Richland Mall.


    12 May 09 at 8:55 am

  6. I remember something about the rents being ridiculously high at Woodhill, and that kept a lot of tenants out.


    13 May 09 at 8:57 am

  7. Take Ten did have all the latest games plus the dark black light atmosphere. I threw down several tokens in those machines.

    Southern Camera was also in the old mall. This was another business started by an ex-Jackson Camera employee. When mall rents climbed too high Southern Camera moved to Landmark Square before closing in the mid ’90s.

    Ted, I believe the independent restaurant in the food court was named “Richard’s” after the owner. After closing up shop at the mall I think he bought a location downtown.


    13 May 09 at 10:53 am

  8. I think you're right, and now that you mention it, I think I remember he might have moved to Jefferson Square.


    13 May 09 at 10:55 am

  9. I remember in the early 80s they took out the fountains near Richway and built some kind of stage for fashion shows. I think that's also where Santa and the Easter bunny were located.

    I went to that Target all the time. It closed around xmas of 03 so that they could build the newer improved Target which opened in 04 I think.

    Mr. Bill

    14 May 09 at 9:29 am

  10. Woodhill Mall is discussed in this article on

    They also have writeups about the Bush River and Decker twins.

    Mike of Toronto, formerly of Columbia

    17 May 09 at 8:05 pm

  11. Any clue why they didn't make the Target in this plaza a Super Target? It seems as if a grocery store (other than the food lion that was there) would go good in that area


    17 May 09 at 11:15 pm

  12. Are any of the Targets in Columbia "super"?


    17 May 09 at 11:52 pm

  13. no, not sure why we don't have any super targets.

    Mr. Bill

    18 May 09 at 10:06 am

  14. I thought the one Two Notch was a super store. It looked pretty big to me the time that I was there.


    18 May 09 at 3:27 pm

  15. So far as Woodhill being unsafe, wasn't there an abduction, in the 80s, of a young woman in the parking lot, that was very publicized at the time and very upsetting? That couldn't have helped the mall's image.


    18 May 09 at 7:05 pm

  16. I don't recall that, but I would have been out of town starting in 1985. I know *I* never felt unsafe there, and the current shops seem to be doing very well in exactly the same location.


    18 May 09 at 9:22 pm

  17. Bobbi Rossi, 1984.


    18 May 09 at 9:49 pm

  18. Yeah, the Bobbi Rossi thing did not help the image of Woodhill.

    Joel, I think the one on two notch is the same size as the others in town. It has to have a full size grocery section to make it a super target.

    Mr. Bill

    19 May 09 at 8:12 am

  19. Actually there was a bad tragic incident here that may have led to its demise...a woman was kidnapped and raped from the parking lot here. She may have also been murdered.
    There was a parking lot arond back which many people used , but it was isolated and in those days I don't belive there were any cameras or security.

    Captain Dave

    20 May 09 at 10:09 am

  20. Yeah that was the Bobbi Rossi thing we were talking about.

    Mr. Bill

    20 May 09 at 10:39 am

  21. It became Richway then Gold *Circle* not Gold Star. Also, the Target on site now is a new build; the former Gold Circle is gone.


    23 Oct 09 at 11:17 pm

  22. Coplon's and Sounds Familiar were also in the mall back then.


    24 Oct 09 at 8:00 am

  23. Not too long after the Rossi abduction, I seem to recall that a security gaurd chased a fleeing perp and caused a fatal wreck at Old Woodlands and Garner's Ferry.

    What was the name of the yogurt stand near where Santa was at Christmas. I had a couple of friends who worked there, but danged if I can remember the name of the kiosk.


    29 Oct 09 at 10:41 am

  24. Yes, if we're thinking of the same wreck it was Susan Redd. Very tragic. That was circa 1987.

    How about the store diagonal from Chick-fil-A called
    Oh, Calcutta or maybe just Calcutta?

    Midnight Rambler

    29 Oct 09 at 10:52 am

  25. Yep, that was it. I couldn't remember her first name.

    It was Oh, Calcutta! They sold butterfly knives and stuff like that. It was in the old Sounds Familiar location.


    29 Oct 09 at 11:49 am

  26. And rock posters, too. Walked out of there one day
    and this well-dressed lady on one of the mall benches asked us, "What do they sell there? Bongs??"

    Midnight Rambler

    29 Oct 09 at 1:22 pm

  27. I remember going to woodhill mall after church sometimes to eat at a restaurant call Sadies.


    7 Jul 10 at 10:32 am

  28. I got food poisoning at Sadies.

    Mr Bill

    8 Jul 10 at 9:40 am

  29. I don't remember Sadie's, but I did get food poisoning at Julie's on the Woodhill Mall outparcel..


    8 Jul 10 at 9:53 am

  30. My grandmother made it just long enough to see Woodhill get redeveloped into its current form and she was very impressed with the final was demolished in early 2004 and then in October/November was when the new stores came grandmother was very impressed with the way it seemed to be thriving in its current form...the very last lunch my grandmother and I had was at the Cici's in this while I miss her, I can still enjoy shopping at this center knowing she's somehow watching over it and remember how she was so glad for the final product...

    btw we have Edens and Avant and the City of Columbia to thank...Edens & Avant for realizing this was a unique chance to redevelop a shopping center for a major tenant and the City for convincing Target to stay put...


    8 Jul 10 at 12:18 pm

  31. Yes, it was called Gold "Circle" not "Star". There was also a Food Lion grocery store next to the mall where Hampton Hill Athletic Club now sits.


    20 Sep 10 at 9:58 am

  32. I remember the food lion. When target came in the store was closed but you could see the logo but in late 2009 they took the logo off and put a new store


    21 Sep 10 at 5:16 pm

  33. Bush River Mall, Decker Mall, and Woodhill mall all opened on the same day in 1977. Santa Fred McCurdy was there starting in 1983. He was given the order of the palmetto by Carroll Campell in 1993 and was the santa in the parade downtown for 23 years. All my pictures where with him. Rents where ridiculously high. Also my mom knew the guy that owned the ChickFila he owns the one on GarnersFerry. The one in the mall was the second leading retailer in sells in the mall for the last 8 years it was opened behind target


    4 Oct 10 at 3:26 pm

  34. wooow nice stories..but i thought pix of the old woodhill mall were gonna be on here. I remember the chick fil-a's but they gone, a foot locker across from it on the left, i think maybe a call center, but it was dark and alotta space u could see chairs, and desks. I used to get my hair done at a salon that used to be out there. When it was snowing, Target was open (old woodhill mall) with the big ole gum machine, im so glad they got rid of that ole thing, useless space, dark and ugly.

    Aliina J.

    4 Feb 11 at 3:13 pm

  35. also ive never heard about that tragic event until u guys mentioned it, sad. "Hey, Welcome to Ci-Ci's," i remember that at the old woodhill mall too. I think the old one is better than the new one i think. Oh i didnt know that bush rvr, dutch sq. mall and woodhill opened up at the same time kewl. Wasn't there a basket robbin's over there where the old woodhill mall used to be. Oh it's not jonathon's, its Jimmy john's lol. I know dutch square used to have a basket robbin's and i remember that one time where they had customers lining up outside the door even

    Aliina J.

    4 Feb 11 at 3:20 pm

  36. Here is the timeline of how Woodhill was redeveloped from my memory:

    February 2003: Edens and Avant announce plans to tear down the Woodhill Mall and add a new Target. They don't usually see the chance to redevelop a shopping center for an anchor tenant but thought that "this was a unique exception" and city officials also preserved to keep Target in somehow

    March-November 2003: 'out parcel buildings' built and opened up. During this time Hampton Hill Athletic club moved out into their current location in the former Food Lion that closed back in 2002

    December 2003: Cici's moves out into their current spot in the outparcel building

    January 2004: Target closes and mall itself is razed

    Spring/Summer 2004: 'anchor building' with anchor Target and 'junior anchors' World Market, Bed Bath & Beyond and Pier 1 Imports constructed

    October/November 2004: Target reopens for business and junior anchors open as well

    My late grandmother and I had lunch for the last time at Cici's and ate at the old one many times. She only enjoyed it with me with her though.

    I've shopped at that Target sometimes and my mom and I have been in Bed, Bath & Beyond occasionally out there as well as World Market a few times as well. Plus when I'm in the mood and nearby, Target has a Pizza Hut Express that I've had lunch at numerous times.

    I've eaten at several other Columbia area Chick-Fil-A's but not the one that used to be at Woodhill...


    4 Feb 11 at 4:03 pm

  37. I always loved going into Mr. Popper's popcorn and getting some of their candy coated popcorn. There was also a nutrition store there owned by some folks I knew. I spent many, many hours in that place. Very fond memories. When I was about 5 my mother was shopping in the Tapp's shoe department and I picked up a high-heeled shoe off of a glass display stand. My mother told me to put it down and I did so. I apparently 'put it down' so hard it shattered the glass stand. I remember my mom being horribly embarrassed and my rear becoming horribly sore. I got all of my back to school clothes there over the years. I also recall a jewelry Warehouse store in there in later years. I think they did a small haunted house in one of the vacant storefronts in the food court for a few years. My brother assisted in a similar haunted house one year that was done in a store front in the open-air portion of Richland Mall.

    Brent Carter

    4 Mar 11 at 10:32 pm

  38. If you had access to Columbia Mall, or Decker Mall, then you really didn't go to Woodhill Mall unless you were in the neighborhood. There wasn't much to it like Decker Mall. The arcade paled in comparison to Columbia Mall's Alladin's Castle! Also, I believe it was Larry Gene Bell that kidnapped Bobbi Rossi.


    25 May 11 at 1:52 pm

  39. Naw, it was three skinny, beardless black guys that kidnapped Rossi, as opposed to Bell (Smith and Helmick cases), a heavyset, bearded white guy.


    25 May 11 at 3:17 pm

  40. 3 blacks raped and murdered Rossi


    27 Feb 13 at 11:28 am

  41. There was also Hair Tamers Friedman's Jewelry...

    Missy H

    7 May 13 at 11:03 pm

  42. I came across your blog while searching for photos of a shopping center parking lot for use as the background of a new retail store rendering I am working on for my client and your third photo in this post is perfect — could I have your permission to use it? I completely understand if you refuse, but it doesn't hurt to ask!

    Thank you,
    Dane Neer
    Architectural Designer

    Dane Neer

    27 Mar 18 at 2:54 pm

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