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Woolco, Landmark Square, Garners Ferry Road: 1970s   19 comments

Posted at 3:02 pm in historic,stores

Woolco was Woolworth's discount department store. These were big buildings, much bigger than a standard Woolworth's "Five & Ten" and had a larger selection of merchandise.

In Columbia, we had two. The one shown here on Garners Ferry Road, now a "Save-A-Lot" (I think this is the right building -- it's been remodeled), and one at Dutch Square. The one at Dutch Square was kind of torn down, and the space was used by what is now the suit store and Office Depot. At the time, Woolco was an anchor store, and had an entrance to the mall interior. Even though the Garners Ferry location was probably a bit closer, we usually shopped at Dutch Square since it had more going for it than just Woolco.

As you might expect from a Woolworth's "discount department store", stuff at Woolco was not top-of-the-line or name-brand. I didn't particularly care -- it had two things I cared about.

The first was the book "department". I put it in quotes because it was mainly just a bunch of bins with "cut-out" stock. I had much more patience (and much less cash) then than I do now, and I was willing to go through evey book in every bin to find ones I wanted. For some reason, they got a lot of Grosset & Dunlap series overstock, and I was able to nearly complete my "Rick Brant" collection there up through Rocket Jumper as well as finding a number of "Tom Swift, Junior" & "Space Eagle" books.

The record department was a similarly mixed bag. I think they did have shelves with the current hit albums, but again, for me, the cut-out bins were the big draw. I can't remember many specifics of what I found there, but I do recall finding an 8-track Bette Midler live album which had her semi-risque first-radio-hit, "You're Moving Out Today" as a bonus track:

So pack your toys away
Your pretty boys away
Your 45's away
Your alibis away
Your Spanish flies away
Your old tye-dyes away
Your one more tries away
You're moving out today

Your nasty habits ain't confined to bed
The grocer told me what you do with bread
Why don't you take up with the baker's wife instead of me, fool!

For some reason, Woolco didn't become "Wal-Mart before Wal-Mart", and they were in big trouble by the end of the 70s. My memory is that the Columbia stores actually closed in the 70s though wikipedia says the chain struggled on until 1983. Interestingly, the smaller Woolworth's stores lasted a good bit longer, and the one at Richland Mall even survived the Richland Mall/Richland Fashion Mall transition.

Written by ted on May 29th, 2008

19 Responses to 'Woolco, Landmark Square, Garners Ferry Road: 1970s'

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  1. It is true that most of the stuff at Woolco may not have been top of the line. I do have to say though, I once bought a dress there for $15.00 that I later found at J. B White's (another Columbia closing) for $65.00.

    Heidi

    6 Jun 08 at 10:30 am

  2. Yeah, you could find some bargains there -- and I definitely will do a "White's" post sooner or later.

    ted

    6 Jun 08 at 11:37 am

  3. I remember the garner's ferry one well. You've got the right spot in the pic. I was born in 77 and I remember going there so I guess it did make it til 83. It became a HQ (which is similar to Lowe's) and it's been a million things since then.

    Mr Bill

    26 Jun 08 at 4:42 pm

  4. I was working at the School of medicine library across the street at the VA Hospital. I would go over there at lunch time.

    Debbie

    11 Feb 09 at 7:39 pm

  5. My mom used to bring my brother and me there all the time. I remember lusting after these huge pompoms in the toy area that were really fluffy, and the way the floor had these brown lines in it, like dividers, and the walls up high would be these retro simple flower design for each department. The rocking chair my mother nursed me in, she bought there (I was born in 1975 and lived here until 1984) Now I am back :)

    Melanie Gallant

    15 Mar 09 at 10:05 pm

  6. I bought a state-of-the-art 19" RCA color TV from this store about 1978. $450!!!
    It had the separate VHF and UHF tuners and I actually used it until 3 years ago when it finally kicked over. Ya gotta hate those rolling screens.

    Terry Edwards

    16 Mar 09 at 6:06 am

  7. I just ran across this Woolworth's commercial on YouTube

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PMMGvmnCSE&feature=related

    Terry

    17 Nov 09 at 4:20 am

  8. Landmark Square was built on what used to be True's junkyard.

    jamie

    17 Nov 09 at 7:57 am

  9. OK........wrong link....
    try this one. Although I did have an 8 track player like the one on the previous Radio Shack link.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry25XcTZxSc&feature=related

    Terry

    17 Nov 09 at 7:07 pm

  10. I enjoyed the Radio Shack ad anyway. I really miss the old days of that store when they sold electronic parts and equipment.

    My first guitar came from the Woolworth's at Richland Mall, a Stella Harmony steel-string acoustic with strings a 1/4 of an inch from the fretboard. My fingers bled for days when I first got that bugger. I always think of Woolworth's when I think of first playing the guitar. They're inextricably linked together for me.

    Michael Taylor

    17 Nov 09 at 10:55 pm

  11. A buddy of mine bought his first guitar from that same Woolworth's about 1971 and it had the same kind of fret action. It makes for noisy playing and he grew callouses on his fingertips in no time. That guitar was a Gilbarco make, and one day while filling up the car at a Hess station we noticed the gas pump was made by the Gilbarco Corporation. He suffered when that bit of knowledge got around.

    Terry

    18 Nov 09 at 3:06 am

  12. PLEASE HELP ME.
    My Grandmother has a set of table lamps from a Woolco store that she bought in the late 60's early 70's. One of the lamps got knocked off the table and broke she asked my mother and I both to try to find her one to replace the broken one but there is no numbers or manufacturers stamps on the lamp anywhere. I would appreciate it very much if anyone could help me to find a way to maybe find that lamp I have pics of the lamp that isn't broken. Thank you in advance for any help anyone can give me.

    Bo

    12 Sep 10 at 6:13 pm

  13. you can contact me at davidmcmanaway1982@yahoo.com with any info that might help me find one of theses matching lamps.

    Bo

    12 Sep 10 at 6:16 pm

  14. Trues Junkyard was a auto salvage junkyard called Trues Motor Mart. I bet not many people remember when that was around. And does anyone remember the Purina Feed Store just behind Trues on Leesburg Road?

    Rick

    8 Apr 12 at 5:24 pm

  15. Yes Rick, right down from the Feed store was the original location of Boozer Lumber and Dr. Cheatham's animal clinic. True's had a lot of military vehicles stashed away behind the tall fences and right next to the junk yard was a 24 hour PayLess gas station. This was when gas was 23.9/gallon. Pump a couple of dollars in the tank and cruise all night listening to 8 track tapes. Good times. If my memory is correct the traffic light at that intersection of Leesburg and Garners Ferry was the last one heading out of town until you reached Sumter.

    Terry

    9 Apr 12 at 1:01 am

  16. Maybe I'm younger than yiu, Terry, but I remember the last traffic light being at Greenlawn where the A&P was.

    For some reason I was thinking the feed store on Leesburg was an FCX, but upon reflection, it was indeed a Purina feed store. I used to draw that checkerboard symbol on the semi-trucks I'd draw in elementary school.

    tonkatoy

    9 Apr 12 at 6:43 am

  17. Terry I worked at the Payless gas station while still in High School at Lower Richland. It did not have any self serve pumps then and we called ourselves "Pump Jocks". "lotta fun in those days.

    Rick

    19 Jun 12 at 1:04 pm

  18. I remember this having a Rooms To Go back in the 90s. They pulled out sometime in the 1998/99 timeframe, indicating they were headed to another city. Then when Rhodes Furniture went bankrupt, Rooms To Go bought their two Columbia Locations (Harbison Center and Village at Sandhill) and continues to several years later.

    Andrew

    19 Jun 12 at 1:08 pm

  19. Andrew, that explains why the quality of their furniture improved. When Rooms To Go was located in Landmark Square they really sold some knock-down quality items. I was really surprised some years later when I walked into the store at Sandhill and saw they offered name brand furniture.

    Terry

    19 Jun 12 at 3:18 pm

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