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Richway / Gold Circle / Target, 2500 Decker Boulevard (Decker Mall): early 1990s   62 comments

Posted at 6:16 pm in Uncategorized

Richway was the discount arm of Rich's. Now, half of you are thinking Rich's had a discount arm? and the other half are thinking What is Rich's?, but that can't be helped.

The idea of Richway was to be K-Mart, but a little more upscale. (Wal-Mart was not a factor at the time). To accomplish this, they made their store architecture a bit more "modern" and eye-catching and the insides somewhat less cluttered and more pleasant looking. Whether the architecture "worked" was a matter of some dispute. At the time, Mazda had just come out with a car called the RX-7 whose shape was very triangular, and whose ads featured all the "hip" RX-7 owners having triangular garages. When Richway built its stores (Decker Mall, Bush River Mall and Woodhill Mall), the question I heard several times was Why did they put RX-7 garages on the roof?.

I think they did suceed in making their stores a better shopping experience than K-Mart (it didn't take much!), but failed in creating their own distinctive brand and "experience". In fact, the only distinctive part of their branding that I can remember was a sham. In front of their battery of check-out lines, they had a pole with a light-switch on it, and a sign that said something to the effect:

If you ever find all the open lanes have more than two people waiting, flip this switch, and we will open another lane.

This raised two questions: 1) Why should it be the customers' job to monitor Richway's checkout lanes, and 2) what would happen if you actually flipped the switch?

I think the answer to the first question was: It shouldn't be, and the answer to the second was: Nothing. I actually made the experiment during one holiday season when I came in and found about half the lanes open and all backed up; it didn't accomplish anything other than me losing my place in line.

I'm a bit hazy on the circumstances of Richway's downfall, but it happened years before the actual Rich's stores were phased out. It might have been Macy's purchase of the parent chain that did it, or it might just have been that the stores weren't really profitable as the rise of Wal-Mart reshaped the retail world. At any rate, the whole chain went under, and the local Decker and Woodhill stores were aquired by Target (the Bush River store was not), which had a more successful "upscale discount" branding concept. After Target joined the flight from Decker, the building stood empty for a good while then was remade as a self-storage facility, anchoring what remains of Decker Mall (with the DMV anchoring the other end).

UPDATE: SAL (thanks for the link!) says it was a Gold Circle after being Richway and before being Target. I don't really remember that, but I may have been living out of town at the time.

UPDATE 21 Dec 2010: FInally added Gold Circle and Target to the post title.

Written by ted on February 25th, 2008

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62 Responses to 'Richway / Gold Circle / Target, 2500 Decker Boulevard (Decker Mall): early 1990s'

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  1. [...] Columbia, SC for a significant amount of time, check out this blog. I’m fascinated by this. This particular post takes me back. That Richway store was right around the block from where I grew up. The store was [...]

  2. From some Wiki research it looks as though the store was a Richway from 77 til about 87. Then was a Gold Circle but only for a short time before becoming a Target in 89. Love the site!


    2 Mar 08 at 3:47 pm

  3. Thanks!


    3 Mar 08 at 6:17 pm

  4. There actually was a Target at Bush River Mall before the mall died.


    21 Mar 08 at 12:03 pm

  5. Huh. I don't remember that at all, but I don't doubt it.


    21 Mar 08 at 11:07 pm

  6. We moved right across the street briefly
    in 79' and I loved going in there and scoring
    a Matchbox or Hot wheels car !! Ah the simple
    pleasures .. I can remember the interior being
    eerily similar to today's "Tarjay's" .. Timelessness
    of the 70's commercial interiors live on ! HA!


    9 Apr 08 at 11:23 pm

  7. It was a Target for years, there was a movie theatre inside the strip part of the mall. When I was in middle school, I used to hang out with this kid and we would see who could shoplift the most expensive item. We started out with GI Joes and I finally got a graphics calculator ($86 in 1991). My mom caught me and made me take everything back. The store managers eyes kept getting wider and wider as I kept pulling things out of my back pack that I had stolen. When I pulled out the calculator she finally asked me how I could have stolen all of this stuff, I guess she couldnt believe that an 11 year old could beat their employees and undercover security. 2 weeks later the placed was covered in cameras and the black plastic bubbles.


    8 May 08 at 9:04 pm

  8. Yeah I remember it being Gold Circle for a couple of years before becoming Target in 89. The Bush River store was also Gold Circle and Target. The Bush River Store moved to it's Harbison location in 99.

    Mr Bill

    26 Jun 08 at 4:35 pm

  9. I have SOOO many memories from childhood about that entire strip mall area. There was the Kroger that was located at the other end of that strip mall and the chinese restaurant in the parking lot that I recall was called China City - it's a buffet now (Little China?). I loved going to China City because of the awesome murals on the wall and the columns that had dragons (with glowing red eyes) curled around them. In fact, the murals and dragons are still there and definitely worth seeing.
    My family used to go to Rush's for dinner and then to the Kroger for groceries before we headed home. I still think that Rush's has better chocolate milkshakes than any other Rush's in town!


    26 Jun 08 at 7:14 pm

  10. I must say I feel old looking at this website. Just because I can remember these stores/restaurants/etc when they were open. In this Richway case, I remember they had one on Bush River Road (there where they just built a new Walmart strip Mall) I remember it went from Richway to Gold Circle to Target ( and then Target moved to Harbison)


    20 Jul 08 at 4:02 pm

  11. There was also a Richway in what used to be Bush River Mall, on Bush River Road. I worked there from around 1980 to 1982 in the TV and Stereo Department. Yes, the stereo department. We sold those big ugly combo units with a turn table, AM-FM and 8-track player, with speakers about four feet tall. One Saturday a guy came into the department, ripped one of those units from the wall and walked out the front door. When the security guard stopped him in the parking lot and asked where he was going, the guy replied, "I just wanted my uncle to hear it." The guard told him, "Well, why don't we just go back to hardware and get you an extension cord, too." Great place to work for a college kid.


    29 Aug 08 at 9:26 am

  12. I remember shopping @ Richway and Gold Circle when I was a kid. I remember going down the hall towards the grocery store at the other end, I think it was a Kroger, right? Anyhow... there was a hair salon on the right and they had hanging from the ceiling, giant posterboard Easter eggs that had been colored and decorated by nearby 1st & 2nd graders... I remember looking up and seeing mine. LOL! Dang... I'm so freakin old!


    13 Nov 08 at 1:28 pm

  13. Yes, the grocery was a Kroger -- the first in Columbia to open, and the first to close, I think.


    13 Nov 08 at 1:48 pm

  14. holy cow. i started with the red wing rollerway thread and have been stuck here for the last 2 hours reading about my childhood closing down.

    i had to post when i saw Angel talking about the Easter Eggs in the breezeway between Kroger and Target/GC/Richway. WOW!!!! i might have never thought of those again if i didn't see that. i found mine once, too! lmao.

    what about that used car dealership right across the street from China City - "Not a Lemon Car Dealers" i think it was (it can't still be there, can it?). it was a dealership in someone's front yard, HAHA! you have to love decker blvd.

    oh, and eggroll express, what? ok, i'm done.

    great site, ted!


    19 Feb 09 at 12:42 pm

  15. Yeah Steve I had forgotten about those easter eggs. I had also forgotten Not a Lemon. You're right that was the name.

    Mr. Bill

    19 Feb 09 at 1:12 pm

  16. Thanks Steve!


    19 Feb 09 at 6:17 pm

  17. Carl Bowen Not A Lemon Used Cars was the full name I believe.


    3 Apr 09 at 3:00 pm

  18. How about Carl Bowen's old Mercedes with all the lemons painted on it that he would park around town and in front of his lot?


    3 Apr 09 at 9:22 pm

  19. Richway was very profitable. Its parent federated, wasn't. Federated bought up rich's which included the richways, in 1976. Then about 1984 some corporate raider piled up huge debt taking everything private(watch barbarians at the gate). Thats what happens when investors run companies instead of people who know a particular business. All the richways and gold circls were sold to target who rebranded them as targets, in 1989.

    I miss them..they were so much better than anything we have today, even if i was like 14 when they ceased to exist.

    Poor White Trish

    25 Jul 09 at 4:08 am

  20. Ah, the awesome memories of Richway. Getting Star Wars figures and Batman toys. My all-time favorite store.


    10 Aug 10 at 4:59 am

  21. Ted, I may be wrong, as I usually am, but wasn't the car commercial with the doorstop garages you mentioned in the opening for a Triumph TR-7, not a Mazda RX-7?


    21 Dec 10 at 6:20 pm

  22. You could well be right -- it's been a *long* time ago now..


    21 Dec 10 at 6:41 pm

  23. Digging up the Wiki pages yields that the Mazda RX-7 came out in 1978 for the first time while the Triumph TR-7 came out in 1975...not sure how much that will help clear it up but thought I'd throw that out there (I wasn't around yet so I don't know myself)...


    21 Dec 10 at 7:54 pm

  24. ok folks upon further checking, I found that Richway sold into Gold Circle in 1986 but the chain ran into financial trouble and wound up folding into Target in 1988...details available on their respective Wiki pages I've linked...


    21 Dec 10 at 8:37 pm

  25. It was TR-7. Do an image google search for "the sahpe of things to come," and TR-7. Shape of things to come was the advertising tagline for the first year the TR-7 came to America.


    22 Dec 10 at 7:42 am

  26. I had seen this here at Columbia Closings, the Sky City blog, and site unfortunately after the fact I had to go there very recently. I just moved to the Columbia area a few months back and my new job I just started working at needed a copy of my driving record as part of my background check and gave me the Decker address as closet the DMV locale. While the DMV was busy the day I went I found this place to be very CREEPY and strange, maybe because I wasn't expecting to go to a dead mall. Infact, I swore they had given me the wrong address. I'd even call this place a hot mess except the heat inside the mall wasn't on except at the DMV.


    4 Jan 11 at 10:50 am

  27. There was also a DMV at Bush River Mall, where Sounds Familiar was located.


    4 Jan 11 at 4:12 pm

  28. The tag line for Richway was... "At Richway we don't look like a discount store but our price tags give it away"


    25 Nov 11 at 5:17 pm

  29. Oh man - that place is a self storage now??!! I haven't been back to Cola for years (since 1999), but as others have said, that was originally a small enclosed mall with Krogers at one end, Richway at the other, a movies in the middle along with around 20 small shops. It was a virtual twin to the one on Bush River Rd, though I recall the Bush River one had a different supermarket (was it Harris Teeter?). Anyway, the Krogers and the Richway (then Gold Circle - I do remember that) always did just fine, but the mall in the middle was pretty much cursed. I remember in high school in the 80's we called it "the dead mall" because no shop could last in there. I don't remember it ever being top tier, but it very quickly went to the really low-rent shops like a beauty-supply place and a dollar shop. But most of the shopfronts were just nothing. Finally the DMV moved in which brought in a lot of people but that didn't help generate any business (BTW that was a great DMV - you never had to wait at all like you did down on Shop Rd!).

    Looking at this website makes me feel really, really old!


    16 Feb 12 at 12:24 am

  30. Yeah, it's storage. But the whole mall has recently been bought by Richland County for government offices. Most of the remaining shops have to move though I'm not sure about the storage operation.

    There are various posts on this site about parts of Decker Mall, just do "Decker Mall"

    in Google.

    And, it seems to be a common missremembering due to the similarity with Bush River Mall, but Decker Mall never had a theater..


    16 Feb 12 at 12:37 am

  31. I believe Bush River Mall had a Kroger at one poitn as well as this one (but before I came along)


    16 Feb 12 at 1:16 am

  32. I dont think Walmart came along here in Columbia til 1985? but not sure. I know they were small stores then and not these redundant Super Stores they have now.


    16 Feb 12 at 2:23 pm

  33. I wasn't around in 1985 yet but from what my dad tells me, Walmart's strategy was to go to smaller towns like Chapin or Elgin where other stores weren't able to justify opening but they got to the point that it was 'outskirts of big cities' and next thing you know, it's Supercenters that are 180-205K square feet


    16 Feb 12 at 11:53 pm

  34. The first Walmart I can remember was on Garners Ferry back I think in 1985..or it could have been in '84. The one on Harbison was in the little shopping area on the opposite far end where Bi-Lo was. The First Super Store was Forrest Drive.


    17 Feb 12 at 9:56 am

  35. A little bit later than thatl, as I recall. The Wally-World on Garners Ferry opened about the same timeas I-77 connected to Garner's Ferry, like maybe 1989. I'm thinking that Harbison slightly predated it by a year or so. And I'm thinking the old Sam's on Sunset near Main might have opened 1987 or so.


    17 Feb 12 at 1:36 pm

  36. The first Wal-Mart in the Columbia area was in Lexington (IIRC) and it was located near the intersection of 378 and Hwy 6.


    17 Feb 12 at 9:34 pm

  37. Del, the Walmart on Garners Ferry opened in 1988-89 and Wyatt Development of Aiken (I believe) completed phase 1 of the center in 1990. This consisted of the next 10 or so storefronts adjoining the Walmart.


    18 Feb 12 at 7:24 am

  38. I thought the first Walmart was on Garners Ferry.. and opened in the mid 80's. I dont remember the Lexington store being the first one.. or the small original one on Harbison.


    19 Feb 12 at 1:36 am

  39. I'm thinking the Garner's Ferry Walmart opened in late 89 or so because I remember fueling up at that gas station at Atlas and GF in the mid to late 80s and don't ever remember much of anything but forest on the opposite side of Atlas road.


    21 Feb 12 at 7:44 am

  40. For what it's worth, I remember the Lexington Wal-Mart (in what's now the Food Lion/Books-A-Million shopping center) being open in 1988. I was on a trip to Columbia with a friend's family, and it was the first Wal-Mart I ever visited. I don't know when it opened, but I know I visited that store in 1988.

    Alaska Jill

    21 Feb 12 at 9:12 am

  41. The GF Walmart was there before 1989..maybe 87 or 88, but it was before '89. Then again, I'm senile and dont remember much anymore.


    21 Feb 12 at 12:31 pm

  42. loopnet records show East Pointe Plaza (7501 Garners Ferry Road) was built in 1990 (not the end all be all but it's the best I could find).

    I am unable to find any info on the property of Lexington Town Centre and frankly, can't imagine it being a former Walmart because it looks too small.


    21 Feb 12 at 3:08 pm

  43. I have not seen a plat in years, but the McDonald's in front of the Walmart is located at 7501 Garners Ferry Road. What was the Walmart, then Sears and today a salvage liquidator is 7505 Garners Ferry. The next string of storefronts in the center have an address of 7509-A through 7509-? and were initially leased in 1989-90. 20 some years later and not an original leaseholder remains. Having said that, all the outbuildings that are directly on Garners Ferry (McDonald's, Firestone, Bank of America, etc.) have survived the entire time.


    22 Feb 12 at 1:29 am

  44. Walmart took a big risk building there because Atlas Road was a bad, bad spot back then.


    22 Feb 12 at 7:49 am

  45. I remember when Richway sold live animals...hamsters, snakes....

    Miz T

    21 May 12 at 1:58 pm

  46. Walmart quit selling birds and other small animals back in the early 90's due to that the cages were absolute filth they were keeping them in. My roommate and his former roomate at the time called the SPCA and had them come out and shut that part of it down. If you look at the fish they still sell, they're not in the best of health, and they only garauntee them for 24 hrs. After that, too bad. Woolworth's and Woolco used to sell fish, lizards, budgies, and baby alligators in the 60's through the 70's sometime. Atlas Rd. is still bad.. it hasnt really improved all that much I dont think unless there's been an "upgrade" or cleaning out like they did with the old Hendley Home Apts. area.

    Saturday's child

    21 May 12 at 3:48 pm

  47. I think Atlas Road from Garners Ferry to Shop Road has been cleaned up a bit I have gotten a 'dicey' vibe about the portion of it from Shop Road to Bluff Road


    21 May 12 at 5:22 pm

  48. Yep, the Lexington Wal-Mart was originally in the current Food Lion building. That was the old-style Wal-Mart, before they started building the Supercenters.


    21 May 12 at 5:40 pm

  49. badger, was it on the Food Lion side or Stein Mart side


    21 May 12 at 8:43 pm

  50. It was on the corner nearest to the two streets. Wal-Marts back then didn't carry groceries and they didn't have large electronics departments. They sold mostly clothing and housewares.


    21 May 12 at 11:02 pm

  51. I've read that when Sam Walton started Walmart that he went out of his way to have made in USA products and I wish someone would do something like that


    21 May 12 at 11:14 pm

  52. Not only that, Andrew, people used to compete for the jobs there because they paid REALLY well.

    But, yeah, everything was American made, and there were flags everywhere. It sure WOULD be nice if someone started a big box chain with American only products.


    22 May 12 at 6:32 am

  53. Sam Walton came to Columbia a couple of time I remember when "Sams" first opened on Beltline back in the 80's, and he seemed to be nice actually. What screwed up Walmart was and IS his kids.. they're the ones that turned everything over to China. Cheap labor and cheap pay. That's why nothing at Walmart is made in the USA anymore. You get what you pay for at Walmart. Dont trust their meat dept. either. Walmart has quit building Super Centers and are makeing them smaller now, but still, Walmart is Walmart and will always be Walmart from now til this planet we call "Earth" explodes.

    Saturday's child

    22 May 12 at 8:47 am

  54. The old Lexington Wal-Mart might have included both the Food Lion and the Books-a-Million. I don't remember now, but I suspect that was one unit with Wally World--but definitely not the Steinmart building.


    22 May 12 at 11:13 am

  55. Originally the Wal-Mart in Lexington was on the right side (currently occupied by Food Lion and Books-A-Million). Food Lion was originally on the left, where Stein Mart is now.


    24 May 12 at 10:21 pm

  56. Didn't Gold Circle have the same emblem as Target, but gold colored. Gold against brown. Nice....Also, there used to be an arcade in the strip mall called "Land of Oz". Kinda small, but had enough selection to play while mom grocery shopped. There was also a great record store in there where I would get rock buttons for my jacket..... Oh, yeah! There was a "teen" nightclub called Chances there in the mid-eighties that sold "Texas Light" non-alcoholic beer. WTF?


    25 May 12 at 10:36 am

  57. The Gold Circle logo was very similar, but not the same. You can see an example of the old logo on this page:!/2010/02/golden-days-of-shopping-at-fazios-and.html


    25 May 12 at 10:45 am

  58. Land of Oz is here. Kroger is here.

    I think the record store was "Flipside".


    25 May 12 at 10:47 am

  59. I too, remember the Easter Eggs... Went to the Ritchway all the time, back in the day. My grandmother called that Side of town, "Dentsville."

    FYI... There was a Richway/ Gold Circle at Woodhill Mall on Garners Ferry, back then... The mall was set-up just like the Decker and Bush River locales...

    Dee Dee

    27 Jan 13 at 3:04 am

  60. I lived behind the VA and I see many places that are not currently on the list of closing Richway at Woodhill was one, also in Woodhill was Take Ten Arcade and at the bottom of the hill where the Gamecock Bilo is was Putt-Putt Golf and Games, Godfathers Pizza and Steak Masters. On Old Veterans Road where Dales Pets is today was the Handy Hut. Right across the Garners Ferry was a Dairy Queen (I-77 is there now) and Bullocks Produce stand. East Columbia Theaters is another.


    21 Dec 16 at 5:45 pm

  61. Omg, who else remembers the Handy Hut! Great memories riding my bike to that store!! 1977-1979

    Tonya Atchison

    3 Jun 18 at 8:04 pm

  62. I was reminded of the Rich's department store today while talking with a friend. He was talking about a different Rich's department store (now closed) here, in Salem, MA (owned by Jerry Rich). I thought, couldn't be the same one as the one in Cola where I grew up. No relation. Then had a memory of back-to-school shopping at Richway. Early 80s remember that very strong smell of a rubber or vinyl floor, mostly in the vestibule. Also, denim 3-ring binders & filler paper. Oh, 80's LOL

    Ana G

    29 May 19 at 10:25 pm

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