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Bush River Mall, Bush River Road: early 2000s   43 comments

Posted at 10:20 pm in Uncategorized

Bush River Mall was built as the twin of Decker Mall, and as far as Decker Mall has fallen, it has so far avoided Bush River Mall's fate.

Like DM, BRM was built as a long corridor with a Kroger Sav-On anchoring one end, and a Richway with the "TR7 Garage" roof anchoring the other. The central corridor was not all on one level, and as I recall it, moving from Kroger to Richway was a gradual uphill slope.

The mall also had a business mix similar to Decker Mall's, and I can recall in particular, a record store and a video arcade. One thing it had that Decker Mall did not have was movie theaters. I believe the Bush RIver Mall theaters were almost in the middle of the mall midway between Kroger and Richway. It was definitely a "plex" of some sort, I believe it was an eight-plex. I know I saw a fair number of movies there, but the one I recall best is Private Lessons in 1981 (the original one, not that Japanese version that used to come on cable all the time). I was living at USC in The Towers when my roomate and I decided we had to see a movie. He had a car, and I assured him I knew how to get to Bush River Mall, so we picked that venue. Well, I did know how to get there -- From Forest Acres! It turned out that the only way I could think of getting there from campus was the asinine route that involved going down Bull Street to Sunset Drive, taking Sunset to Broad River Road and then taking Bush River Road at Boozer. Needless to say we were 15 minutes late. Luckily, it's not a movie where the plot is paramount (or hard to figure out, come to that).

In the late 80s or early 90s, Bush River Mall, like Decker Mall, started to go downhill. When Richway went bankrupt it was taken over at Decker and Woodhill Malls first by Gold Circle and then by Target. I'm not certain, but I don't think that happened at Bush River. At any rate, both Kroger and whatever was in the Richway slot pulled out, and that didn't leave much in the center to attract trade. A couple of also-ran stores tried the Kroger building. I think there was a Ben Franklin and then maybe some sort of clothes store. The theater didn't help much either, though I'm not entirely clear why. It may have been that the new Dutch Square multiplex started before the Bush River Mall theaters went under though I can't swear to that timing.

Whatever the causes, the mall finally ticked over from troubled to dead with no businesses left. This state of affairs lasted several years, and would have been an ideal time to get pictures of the old place if I had thought of it (and it used to be a real choice whether use up $20 shoting and printing a 24-exposure roll of Kodacolor..). After a while they knocked the whole place down, and the only remnants were a "now playing" sign for the theaters at the corner of Bush River Road and the mall north access road, and some down-at-the-heels beauty and etc shops in an outparcel in the same corner.

Now, of course, Wal-Mart has moved in, and has brought more businesses with it than ever were in the mall. For a new Wal-Mart, it was a bit odd when it opened in that it was not 24 hours, something unexpected that bit me once, but that may have changed by now.

UPDATE 8 June 2010: Several commenters send this link to a really great set of pictures from the last days of the mall. Check it out!

Written by ted on October 2nd, 2009

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43 Responses to 'Bush River Mall, Bush River Road: early 2000s'

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  1. Didn't Burlington Coat factory start there and then it moved to Dutch square?
    I do remember the target there and there was also the best baseball card shop I have ever encountered which was Hall of Fame.


    2 Oct 09 at 11:42 pm

  2. Yeah, I think BCF was what I was trying to think of with "Clothes store".

    OK, so they did have a Target? I assume that one was the one that moved to Harbison then..


    2 Oct 09 at 11:51 pm

  3. The theater is my main memory of this mall. Specifically, the last time I ever saw a double feature was at BRM. It was RoboCop & Predator, so it had to be around 1985 or '86. That pairing made for a packed crowd as I recall. That may have been their high water mark. I don't think they lasted long after that.

    John R

    3 Oct 09 at 8:39 am

  4. At BRM, there was Richway, then Gold Circle, then Target that lasted til they moved out to Harbison. The Theaters that were in the Mall stayed there til about the time the whole Mall closed. Sounds Familiar was there, Land of Oz arcade, a DMV place, a very small electronics store of somekind was there about a 3rd of the way down the slope on the left side. I dont remember anything else other than Kroger's, then Burlington moved in for a long time..not sure about Harris-Teeter though, or that may have been closer to Irmo. The Mall fell apart when Target moved and the entire mall fell off the face of the map and sat empty for the longest time before they finally tore the entire mall down to build that discusting Walmart. I miss how it used to be, but things change, and that side of town is DEAD now and nothing but trouble makers out there. BRM, Decker and Woodhill all opened at the same time.. they were all the same but had different stores in them for the most part.


    3 Oct 09 at 9:01 am

  5. Wateree Dive Center was organically here around the same time. (They are currently on St. Andrews Rd @ Piney Grove). I grew up in Lexington and this and Dutch Square were the only places to go . Dutch Square had the little theatre where Ruby Tuesdays is now. BRM THE place to hang out and see a movie.


    3 Oct 09 at 9:08 am

  6. The was a very tiny B. Dalton and a record store there. The theatre was known for its midnight movie showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.


    3 Oct 09 at 9:23 am

  7. At one time there was one of those air brush places, that would air brush t shirts and licence plates and stuff at BRM. Im also pretty sure there was a ice cream place just outside Krogers for awhile.

    A quick Googling led me to this site (I hope this is ok to post, Ted)

    which included some pics of the mall in its last days

    By the way Ted, this thread came up as the 7th hit on my Google search for "bush river mall".


    3 Oct 09 at 9:35 am

  8. Based on your description, this mall was one of many similar ones that were constructed as some sort of cooperative venture in the mid to late 1970s between Kroger and Federated Department Stores (which owned Rich's department stores and Richway, their discount cousin). I've seen these in various places from Atlanta to Charlotte. Charlotte's two were called Northpark (still standing, barely) and Westpark (demolished), and they were also Kroger's very first locations in the Charlotte market.

    FYI, the Gold Circle transition was really just a name change, as Federated merged two discount department store brands during a reorganization around 1986/1987.


    3 Oct 09 at 9:37 am

  9. In the mid-80's this mall seemed to be doing very well. I'm not sure what happened to it, but it went downhill in a hurry. I suspect Columbiana Centre and the aforementioned Target move had a lot to do with it. There is an album of pics on the website of the mall right before it was torn down.
    I used to live in Matador Square apts right next to Bush River Mall from 1978-80. I went to the Bush River Mall Cinemas all throughout the 80's and it always seemed to be popular. My dad took me to the premiere of Return of the Jedi there. Land of Oz was an awesome arcade.


    3 Oct 09 at 9:38 am

  10. There were some pictures I came across on Google a while back of Bush River Mall. They were from after everything had closed. A person had gone into the mall and took pictures. The mall appeared to be heavily vandalized. If I can find the pictures again I will send a link.


    3 Oct 09 at 9:59 am

  11. Yep that's it Alex. has a link to the pictures.


    3 Oct 09 at 10:00 am

  12. Deadmalls did a good story on this one a while back. I remember the Target closed in the summer of 99 when the one at Harbison opened. The last movie I saw there was Mr Bean around January of '98 it had become a dollar theater by then.


    5 Oct 09 at 11:42 am

  13. I also remember now that both malls had an electronics national chain store called "Andy's Warehouse" which ceased in the late 7os-early 80s. Both were suppose to have Dipper dan's and a p-nut place but I am not sure if they ever opened. Also Bush River Mall had a Mongolian bar-b-q place that was quite popular for a while.


    5 Oct 09 at 11:58 am

  14. There was also a baseball card store across from the movie theatre in the late 80s early 90s. I think the name of it was Hall of Fame Baseball Shop or something similar.


    8 Oct 09 at 5:01 pm

  15. I have so many vivid memories of this place. One I haven't seen mentioned yet -- which I'm sure is common to so many malls of this era -- are those crazy planters with ivy, ferns, and tropical plants. Oh, the '70s!


    8 Oct 09 at 11:45 pm

  16. I remember the plants. I can remember in the 80s kids would ride their skateboards in Decker Mall. It was a good place for it since the mall was on a downhill slope.

    Mr Bill

    9 Oct 09 at 9:46 am

  17. The plants are still in Decker Mall..


    9 Oct 09 at 11:03 pm

  18. My earliest memory of that location was a field with a white farmhouse on it. The house was fairly close to Bush River road, and situated close to the Richland/Lexington county line marker. There was a doughnut shop on the parcel in the early days, perhaps a Dunkin Donuts. Alex mentioned Matador Square - I'm sure that he and many others remember Tez's restaurant located between the apartment complex and the mall.

    Lou B

    10 Oct 09 at 9:21 am

  19. The Doughnut Shop was Mr. Do-nut.


    15 Oct 09 at 6:37 pm

  20. If I remember the chronology right, the one outbuilding was Tez's, then briefly the Electric Cafe in the 1980s, then Bottoms Up. Any one else remember otherwise?

    59 Ford Wheelman

    15 Oct 09 at 6:57 pm

  21. It also was a Mexican styled place called "Miranda's" after Tez's moved out.


    15 Oct 09 at 7:47 pm

  22. Before Tez's it was a pretty mediocre Chinese place. Remember taking my little brother there when he was in town Thanksgiving of 1990.


    16 Oct 09 at 10:06 pm

  23. I definitely remember the Electric Cafe being there up through 1992. I was trying to see if it was still there (I live in NJ and was there for business), but I see it has likely been leveled. Good memories.


    6 Nov 09 at 3:52 pm

  24. Back when I was still in school, whenever I had a sick day, my mom and I would go to Richway. Then I would get $5 for Land of Oz while she shopped. The last time I was in that place was 1984. A bunch of us went to see the Cannonball Run II. I moved a month later.

    Whatever happened to the psychedelic paintings that lined the hallways?

    Mike M.

    26 Nov 09 at 12:27 am

  25. Just ran across this site. I spent an incredibly large amount of time in BRM from about 1984 though 1988. My parents owned 2 businesses in there over the years. I sure do miss those days. That was in BRM's prime. We owned the t-shirt shop, MJ's T-Shirts across from what I believe was the original Sounds Familiar store. We also owned the small food joint next to the arcade called Munchies. The shop names - my sister Mary Jane named the t-shirt shop, and I named Munchies... Back then the mall would be packed on the weekends with kids - it was the place to hangout.

    I'll have to check my photos at home and scan some in from back then. A couple of later places that moved on and are still going in Clusters of Whitehall are Roses Alterations (they had taken the old corner jewely store spot at the center entrance) and Hair Power who had moved into the old Sounds Familiar spot to the left of the theaters.

    Richard L

    6 Jan 10 at 4:35 pm

  26. I worked at the B. Dalton's at this mall on and off for a few years (I also worked at the other B. Dalton's in town). The Bush River Mall store was always, by far, the deadest store. You could go all night and have only a handful of customers. You could read the title on almost every book from the cash register!

    B. Dalton's was a good place to work and my co-workers were great (Alison Smith, Phil Worth, Beth Stafford, and Beth Henderson).

    The theaters were pretty good and I saw "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" there more times than I can count.

    BRM is also where I was turned on to pretzels with white chocolate (thanks Beth!).

    Peter Hoffman

    9 Jan 10 at 8:49 pm

  27. This mall also burned before it was torn down. I think that was in the early 2000s. Some vagrants were living in it and burned a back section. I think after that was when they decided to tear it down because it was a hazard.

    I remember the theaters, Target, Burlington and Ben Franklin. The last movie I remember seeing there was arachnophobia.


    20 Jan 10 at 12:47 pm

  28. I believe this theater is the one where the first reel of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back was stolen from back in the day. Does anyone know the story behind that?


    3 Mar 10 at 3:22 pm

  29. Bush River Theaters used to have "Midnight Movies" and show "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"! That was what we called a good night out back then.


    11 Mar 10 at 2:31 pm

  30. The last movie I saw here was "Toy Story" with the lady who is now my wife. What I remember most was just how UNCOMFORTABLE the seat was! I think my butt actually went to sleep! The place was pretty well run-down by then though.


    4 Jun 10 at 1:30 pm

  31. Here's the album that Elaf was talking about a while back

    I remember going to the Target back in the 90s as well as seeing Hercules with my dearly departed grandmother in the theaters in this mall

    The "Mall" letters where Target used to be had plastic trashbags over it that made for some interesting looking figures at one point as well...I never thought I'd welcome a Wal-Mart but I have to admit it made my day to be in my American Government class as a senior in high school back in December 2005 and see the article in the bottom right of the front page "New Wal-Mart Supercenter planned for Bush River Mall Site" (the teacher had a class set of newspapers)


    4 Jun 10 at 10:01 pm

  32. Wow! Great pictures!


    5 Jun 10 at 2:47 am

  33. those really are some great pics

    Mr Bill

    8 Jun 10 at 8:19 am

  34. For those who remember the theaters here follow this link:

    Should bring back a few memories!


    11 Jun 10 at 12:55 pm

  35. My favorite "policy trailers" were always at Regal (Richland Mall / Inlet Square Mall mostly for me). They kept the same basic monorail-on-film-track concept for years, upgrading the graphics piece by piece over the years. It seemed as though Richland Mall would get the updates before Inlet Square Mall did. I believe they have finally abandonded the concept after 20 years or so, but I'll always remember it, especially the "kernel of doom" popcorn.

    Here's an early version:

    and here's something close to the final version before it was retired:


    11 Jun 10 at 1:12 pm

  36. I love Twizzlers. For some reason they stopped selling them at the Richland Mall Theater.


    12 Jun 10 at 7:25 am

  37. Hm, I never knew there was a theater in this mall. Then again, I only knew of this mall close to the end of its days.

    I don't blame Walmart for not being 24hrs in this area.


    7 Jul 10 at 7:11 am

  38. The timeline of the downfall of Bush River Mall:

    ca. 1997/8: wall installed at mall entrance to Target after most of the smaller tenants moved out. The wall was constructed in such a manner such as to allow people to get in/out of Target but not into the rest of the mall since nothing was there anyway.

    Summer 1999: Target moves out to Columbiana Station marking the official closure of Bush River Mall. By this point, the other remaining tenants, Burlington Coat Factory and a DMV office had moved to their current spots at Dutch Square

    fall 1999-summer 2005: the former Bush River Mall sits completely vacant and I heard at one point it was a magnet for drugs, prostitution and truck trailer storage

    summer 2005: Bush River Storage, which was behind the former Burlington Coat Factory, closes up shop

    December 14, 2005: The State publishes an article announcing that Bright Meyers Development had brought the property from CBRE and will redevelop it with a Wal-Mart Supercenter (which made my day because of how ugly it looked for so long).

    Jan/Feb 2006: Bush River Mall demolished. An insurance agency, waterproofing business as well as M&M auto sales needed to relocate to make room.

    May 9, 2007: Wal-Mart store #4379, located at 1326 Bush River Road, is open for business at Bush River Village. New shops follow in the days and moths ahead.

    There was a sense of optimism in the article that indicated there would be new life to the whole strip and it had me hoping that some of the shops across the street may get new life and I was hoping something would occupy the former Key West Grill. Not much of that has come to fruition like I had hoped.


    12 Feb 11 at 11:50 pm

  39. I loved this BRM and dutch square growing up. My first job was at that Burlington Coat Factory. I have such wonderful memories of all the places in that area.


    25 Jun 11 at 3:48 pm

  40. I remember that Burlington Coat Factory, but never shopped there before it moved (though I bought a ton of stuff at the Dutch Square location). OTOH, when I was a young twenty-something with an apartment a couple miles away, I bought an awful lot of stuff at that Target for the apartment, including two cheap but good kitchen table chairs I still use today. I also think I walked through the mall part a time or two for no other reason than a fascination with dead/dying buildings.

    My most memorable moment at the Bush River Target came one evening as really strong thunderstorm was passing through when I arrived, and I was waiting it out in the car before heading into the store. There was suddenly a huge bang and a bright flash, and a transformer on one of the nearby utility poles went kablammo, sparks flying and everything. Quite a sight to see, and thinking about it still raises chill bumps 13 years later. I'm also wanting to think it knocked out part of the power in the store (but it could be the years embellishing the story).

    Either way, the set of photos in that link above is sad and eerie to look at, especially since my memories of the place while it was still alive are vivid.

    Alaska Jill

    25 Jun 11 at 10:14 pm

  41. I am so glad to find this link! I grew up near Bush River Mall at the St Andrews apts in the late 80s and remember my mom taking me to a place called The Siamese Cat. Anyone remember it? There was one also at Columbia Mall too. One od my first jobs was working at Louries at Columbia Mall then I went to Tapps before her last hurrah. Ah, memories!


    30 Jun 12 at 10:31 pm

  42. The last movie I remember seeing at the theater cost 50 cents and I think it was Air Force One. I think that was in 1998. I saw lots of movies there in the mid 80s and spent a good bit of money in the record store (Sounds Familiar) next to the theater.


    15 Sep 12 at 11:54 pm

  43. I went for my friend's 8th birthday to see 'The 'Burbs' here with Tom Hanks.

    At any rate, this movie theater combined with the 3 by Dutch Square Mall, combine to build the existing movie theater at Dutch Square. They eventually demo'd the building in the Dutch Square parking lot that held 3 movie theaters, and there is now a Ruby Tuesday there. I walked through this building once after it was all closed down. The movie theater still had a lot of stuff in it that would have been worth taking - if I was more than 14. Used to skate board / roller blade in it after it closed. Niave kids I guess.


    30 Jan 13 at 11:55 am

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