Archive for the ‘Capitol Centre’ tag
D's Shoe Warehouse was one of the very few stores left in Capitol Centre, the strip mall behind Columbia Mall which once held Capitol Centre Theatre, MOvies Behind The Mall, Circuit City, Cucos Mexican Cafe, Aliens & Alibis, and Jim's Discount Mall.
As of 31 January 2013, they have moved to Parklane, in the old site of Awesome Mattress.
Cucos was a casual Tex-Mex eatery with what I still consider to be unusually good salsa. (It wasn't particullarly hot, but had some unusual ingredients, including carrot chunks to give it a very good flavor). The vegetarian burrito was good as well, and my sister, father & I enjoyed eating there on the weekends when I was back in town.
In the winter of 1995, I made the mistake of answering a technical question on an internal e-mail list just at the time they needed someone else to fill out a work party upgrading computers in Seoul Korea. Having raised my visibility, and being between projects, I was chosen and flew out of Augusta GA to Atlanta, through Portland OR and to Seoul to join the team from the west-coast office.
When I got there, everyone from California was sick and I was fine. Seoul in the winter is the coldest place I have ever been, and I have been in Kansas in Janurary. We were working mainly after hours so as not to disturb the computer users during the day, and I remember one night in particular when we had to leave a warm building (with no key to get back in) and wait 40 minutes in the snow and wind for a cab. Anyway, the point is, as I borded the plane back for the US, everyone else was feeling pretty good and I was starting to feel rocky. The trip from Seoul to Chicago (which was the route back) was the longest trip I can ever recall. When we hit Chicago, I put my watch from Seoul time to Central, meaning that when I got to Atlanta, I was off by an hour and missed my flight back to Augusta. By this point, I was ready to just lay myself down on a bench of Hartsfield seats and expire, but Delta got me on the next flight to Augusta, and somehow I made the drive back to Aiken. I had about enough energy to crawl into bed, and I didn't leave it for two weeks except for the bathroom and forcing down the occasional soda-cracker. I don't know the technical name for what I had, but I called it the Korean Death Flu. After two weeks flat on my back, I was finally able to start making it back into work for partial days, but I was still as weak as a kitten when the annual holiday break rolled around. What does this have to do with anything? Perhaps not much, but I vividly remember that the first day I felt really well again, it was close to Christmas, and I was sitting in Cucos having lunch, just marveling that I had an appitite and didn't ache anywhere. The realization of well-being came over me, and I just sort of sat back and enjoyed it, being in no hurry at all to finish and leave, and as it happened that day, my waitress was a very pretty Southern-Belle of Korean descent.
So what happened to Cucos? As far as I could tell, they did a very good business in that location, but that doesn't matter much if the whole chain gets into trouble. Googling around a bit, I find that in their SEC filing for 1995, Cucos said that casinos in the New Orleans area (their home base) were starting to cut into their earnings (frankly that sounds like a pretty flimsy excuse for doing poorly..) though they were taking measures to counter it. I'm guessing they started to retrench then, and not long after that, the Columbia location closed. Apparently they soldiered on until going into bankruptcy in 2002. I think there are still some Cucos left, but my impression is that they were succesful franchises bought out by the franchisees.
After the local Cucos folded, the corner spot it had occupied became a sports bar which lasted a few years, but is now vacant.
As for myself? -- I make sure to get a flu-shot every year now.
When Circuit City came to town, their first location (as I recall it anyway) was on Two Notch Road, by the first Columbia Mall entrance. I didn't go there very often because, in short, I had no money at the time. I also found that the salesmen, who worked on commission, were rather predatory, and it was hard to get a close look at anything without one swooping down. In the late 80s or maybe the early 90s, they changed their corporate direction to be a "big box" player, and moved out of their original store (which now houses Wes Bolick bedrooms) and around the corner, so to speak, into a large store at Capitol Centre.
By this time, I had a real job, and a little money, so I would go browsing a bit more often. They always seemed to have a lot of interesting electronics (and appliances, which didn't really seem to fit with the rest of their concept). I found that if I stayed away from the TVs and large stereo systems, I could generally look unmolested by staff, but that checkout was now a big pain. At one time, Radio Shack had the most annoying checkout experience in electronics retail, belying their supposed tech savy by writing everything down on a pad by hand and running a total with a calculator and then nosing about your phone number and address. After Radio Shack reformed, Circuit City seemed to take up some of their nosiness, and I recall on a day when I was in a bad mood anyway, and just wanted to pay cash for a $10 tape for data backup that I rebelled when they started digging for all my personal data, and ended up boycotting the chain for about 5 years.
In that interval, they fell upon hard times. I think part of it was the DIVX debacle. Back when it was clear that technology was advancing to the point that VHS would be obsolete and that the next medium for distributing movies to retail would be some sort of CD sized disc, there were two contenders. One of these was, of course, DVD, and the other was DIVX (which has nothing to do with the current video codec called DivX, btw). The difference between the two formats (from a consumer perspective) was that DVD was "forever" while DIVX discs could only be played for a limited time period before expiring (making each purchase essentially a rental). Circuit city backed DIVX in a big way, and apparently shaded the truth in a lot of their sales-floor pitch, earning a lot of consumer bad-will.
In the meantime, Best Buy was challenging them with even bigger stores and more tech choices, and they have never completely recovered. None of that, I suppose, has anything to do with the move of this particular store from Capitol Centre to their current location out on Two Notch near Sandhills -- that was just the combination of the decline of Capitol Centre and the general flight from the Columbia Mall/Decker Blvd area out towards the north-east. (Once again, we can see that it wasn't lack of parking that did it.. :-) I ended my boycot years ago, and have been in their new store a number of times. It seems to me that Best Buy is still better at computer stuff (though neither compares to the late, lamented CompUSA in that regard), but that Circuit City is better than it was. Certainly they seem to have done away with commissions and you can generally browse more comfortably now, and the last time I bought something, they didn't ask for my phone number at all.
Capitol Centre is a hard-luck strip mall directly across from Columbia Mall (it shares access from the loop road around the Columbia Mall parking lot). It has never prospered, and as Columbia Mall has declined, it has done even worse. Most of the places there that have come and gone, I didn't care about at all, but there were a few that caught my notice.
The Capitol Centre Theatres were one such place:
This was a typical multiplex, built before the current fad for stadium seating, not bad not great. I think its main problem was that being only a parking-lot away from the (twice dead and resurrected) Columbia Mall theaters, it was hard to establish a unique identity or to make it the default theater of habbit for locals. Back when Pat Berman was still doing movie reviews in The State, she did an interview with a local theater manager at a time when several local theaters were going under, and asked him if the market were overbuilt. He replied that no, it was "under-fannied" (too few fannies on seats). I think circumstances conspired to make Capitol Place Theater under-fannied.
You would think that working movie projectors would be valuable and salable assets, at least until the digital switchover of the last few years, but apparently not:
Not much of a theater without projectors in the auditoriums, but it wouldn't take much to put the lobby back in service:
This lets us date the closing to no earlier than 28 Jan 2000 when Eye of the Beholder opened:
It also lets us pinpoint the proximate cause of the theater's closure: Robin Williams