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Not Reassured   2 comments

Posted at 12:55 am in commentary

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Written by ted on November 4th, 2013

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Decker Mall, 2500 Decker Boulevard: Spring 2012   26 comments

Posted at 1:03 am in business,landmark,stores

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Well, it's unclear to me exactly when the hammer finally dropped, but all the remaining private businesses are now out of Decker Mall. I decided to stop by last week, and found that once I was inside, the only occupied space was the Dentsville Magistrate's office, and that most of the mall is now cordoned off by wire fencing in advance of the place being remodeled to house a bunch of Richland County Government offices.

I've written in various places about Decker Mall tenants, and thus in passing about the mall itself, but I've never done an entry for the mall per se.

In the beginning, Decker and Bush River malls were twins, with both being laid out as a strip anchored on one end by Richway (with the distinctive triangles on top) and on the other end by Kroger. The only real difference was that Bush River had a multiplex and Decker did not.

I'm not sure when Decker Mall opened, but it was definitely while I was in High School, probably around 1977. At the time, Columbia Mall was thriving, and just a few blocks away, so from the get-go, Decker had to find a different focus. With a discount store as one anchor, and a grocery as the other, the stores in the interior between the two tended to be smaller national chains, local chains, and one-off locals. Apart from clothing and other stores that didn't catch my teenage eye at all, I can recall Gateway Books, Flipside Records & Tapes, and my favorite, The Land of Oz video arcade.

After the Richway chain folded, Gold Circle took that anchor spot, and then when they folded, Target moved in. As far as I could tell, they always did a good business, but at some point a general mania struck Decker Boulevard businesses and they all begain a flight to Nort East Two Notch Road regardless whether there was still a customer base at the original location. When both Target and Kroger joined the flight, the writing was not only on the wall for Decker Mall (that wall had been scribbled for years..) but now it was etched in.

A number of local businesses that didn't rely on foot traffic held on there for years, but the last is now gone, and the next phase of life for the mall, if not *as* a mall is about to begin.

I have gone through a number of old city directories at the RCPL and have come of with this list of tenants for various years:

1977:

Does not list a mall at 2500, just Richway Stores.

1978:

  • Decker Mall Shopping Center
  • Richway Inc
  • Richway Auto Center
  • Ann & Andy Fashions
  • Fashion Bug of Bush River Inc
  • Dipper Dan Ice Cream Shop
  • The Peanut Shack
  • Country Corner gift shop
  • Reflections
  • Fayva Shoes
  • Good Health Food & Nutrition
  • Jenkins Flower Botique Inc
  • Manufacturings Outlet Shoes
  • Land of Oz
  • The News Room (restaurant & lounge)
  • Command Performance
  • Yummy Yogurt
  • Flipside Records & Tapes
  • Kroger Sav On Food & Drugs

1979:

  • Decker Mall Shopping Center
  • Richway Inc
  • Richway Auto cener
  • Fashion Bug of Bush River Inc
  • Country Corner
  • Reflections (men's clothes)
  • Gateway Books
  • Fayva Shoes
  • Jenkins Flowers & Bride's Place
  • Manufactures [sic] Outlet Stores (shoes & clothes)
  • Land of Oz
  • Command Performance
  • Harvey's Warehouse (stereo equipment wholesale)
  • Flipside Records & Tapes
  • Kroger Sav On Food & Drugs
  • Kroger Sav On Pharmacy

1983:

  • Decker Mall Shopping Center
  • Richway Inc
  • Richway Auto Center
  • Arnold's Formal Wear
  • Four Seasons
  • Mill Fabrics
  • The Micro Shop
  • The Shoe Tree
  • Land Of Oz
  • Command Performance
  • Flipside Records & Tapes
  • Kroger Sav-On Food & Drugs
  • Video Ventures
  • Melody Music Center
  • Olan Mills Inc
  • Rush's Fast Foods

1988:

  • Cola Magic & Customs Shop (theatrical supplies & equipment)
  • Decker Mall Shopping Center
  • Gold Circle
  • Four Seasons
  • China City
  • Command Performance
  • Kroger Sav-On Food & Drugs
  • Stone Works Home of The Dirt Cheap Mine (jewelery specialty)
  • Melody Music Center
  • First Federal of South Carolina (in Kroger?)
  • Olan Mills Inc
  • Rush's Fast Foods
  • State Department of Highways & Public Transportation
  • Columbia Magic & Costume Shop
  • Magic & Miracles Productions
  • Pettit William H Agency (talent agency)
  • Expert Alterations & Fine Mending

1993:

  • Target
  • China City
  • Kroger Sav-On Food & Drugs
  • First Savings Of South Carolina (in Kroger?)
  • Rush's Fast Foods
  • State Department of Highways & Public Transportation
  • Expert Alterations & Fine Mending

1998:

  • Branch Banking & Trust Co (in Kroger? in Target?)
  • Carolina First Corporation (where?)
  • China City of Columbia
  • Expert Alterations
  • Kroger Drugs
  • Rush's Food Systems
  • Target Store

2003:

  • Healthy Home Foods Inc
  • Legends Security & Sound
  • Little China Buffet
  • Pup's Barber Shop Express
  • Rush's
  • Special Occasions (catering)
  • Expert Alterations
  • Precisely Yours (beauty salon)
  • Changing Faces (beauty salon)
  • New Life World Ministries

2008:

  • Arcadia Self Storage
  • Legends Security & Sound
  • Little China Buffet
  • Division of Motor Vehicles
  • Nunies Mini Stand (convenience)
  • Richland County Magistrate
  • Rush's
  • Special Occasions
  • D & T Fashions
  • Expert Alterations
  • Changing Phaces (beauty salon)
  • New Life World Ministries

2011:

  • Extra Space Storage
  • Shekinah Glory Family Care (childcare)
  • Special Occasions (banquet rooms)
  • Legends Security & Sound
  • Division of Motor Vehicles
  • Richland County Magistrate
  • Expert Alterations
  • New Look New U (beauty salon)
  • Rush's

Note that some time between 1988 and 1993, the mall offices stop being listed, so perhaps the mall as a corporate entitiy was gone by that point. Note also that Rush's and China City/Little China are outparcels.

Here is Sky City's writeup on Decker Mall, and following are pictures and links from my other Decker Mall posts.

My post discussing the county purchase.

Kroger:

DMV:

Land of Oz:

Richway / Gold Circle / Target:

I know I have some other Decker Mall pictures around, and I will add those as I find them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ted on June 5th, 2012

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Bright Animal Clinic, 2444 Decker Boulevard: 31 December 2011   3 comments

Posted at 10:59 pm in business

This building was built as a Taco Cid and I ate there from time to time in the 1980s. I believe that Bright Animal Clinic was the first, and so far only, operation to use the building since Taco Cid left.

The clinic's closing sign mentions that they were established in 1971, so a) This is obviously not their first location and b) That's a 40 year run, and sounds like a well deserved retirement.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the building. There still have been no takers for the nearby Olive Garden and Red Lobster buildings, but the nearby laundry does OK, and there should be a fair number of ofice workers in the area after the county finishes the takeover of Decker Mall.

(Hat tip to commenter Matt)

UPDATE 18 April 2013 -- It's to be an Atlantic Seafood:

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UPDATE 25 April 2013 -- The building sign is up:

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UPDATE 17 February 2014 -- Atlantic Seafood is finally open:

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Written by ted on February 2nd, 2012

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DMV, Decker Mall: 17 June 2011 (moved)   8 comments

Posted at 11:45 pm in government

I was at Schlotzsky's on Parklane having lunch today when a guy came in looking for the DMV. Naturally, I sent him across Two Notch to Decker Mall: D'oh!

I realized my mistake as I drove down O'Neil Court just a little later, and saw that the DMV had relocated to the old Pro Golf of Columbia location in The Shops of O'Neil Court.

I suspect this has something to do with the purchase of Decker Mall by Richland County, though I would have expected the two different levels of government to work out a deal of some sort for the space.

Written by ted on June 24th, 2011

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Hmm.. Richland County to Buy Decker Mall   12 comments

Posted at 1:31 am in commentary

The State:

Richland County plans to buy a strip mall on Decker Boulevard and relocate yet-to-be-determined offices there as a way to address a cramped courthouse and administrative offices.

This, of course, is the former home of Kroger Sav-On, Land of Oz, Little China Buffet, Richway/Gold Circle/Target, Flipside and many other things over the years.

Written by ted on March 4th, 2011

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Two Interesting Items in The State Today   6 comments

Posted at 1:12 am in commentary

I probably should read The State more often than I do..

First -- Richland Mall is back:


Sandhill developer takes over Richland Mall

Village at Sandhill developer Alan Kahn has been tapped to breathe new life into Midtown at Forest Acres. And his first act will be to give it back its old name - Richland Mall.

Second -- Kroger at Sparkleberry Square is in trouble:

Kroger on Two Notch Road at Sparkleberry Lane is no longer open 24 hours. The store reduced its hours last week to 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily. Other stores in the Columbia area will remain open 24 hours. The chain reduced hours at some stores so they could continue to offer low prices during a difficult economy, a spokesman said.

As to the first, I, for one, have always refused to call the place either "Richland Fashion Mall" or "Midtown at Forest Acres", so I'm glad to see the "classic" name back. Kahn certainly has an uphill slog ahead there though. Given that even the new Village at Sandhill has had a lot of churn and ongoing vacancies, an older, already perceived as failing (because, it is failing) mall is going to have even more trouble luring tenants. I guess the obvious thing to try, as I think Sky City has suggested, would be to try to lure Macy's from Columbia Mall to the vacant Parisian or Bonwit Teller slot. Of course that would put paid to Columbia Mall so I'd rather something else happen..

As to the second, I think that after this, this, this, this, and this, I can say that Sparkleberry Square is "troubled". Kroger cutting its hours certainly does nothing to reverse that perception. For a restaurant, it's fatal sign #1. I don't think the Kroger will close, but I'll bet they're nostalgic for the rents at Decker Mall about now.

Written by ted on April 30th, 2010

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Kroger Sav-On, 2500 Decker Boulevard (Decker Mall): April 2000   8 comments

Posted at 12:30 am in historic,stores

The Kroger Sav-On at Decker Mall was the first Kroger I ever encountered. It opened while I was in high-school, and was really different from the grocery stores I was accustomed to before it arrived.

Firstly, it was quite large. This was before Wal-Mart super centers or anything like that, and I was used to stores the size of a Colonial, Piggly Wiggly or A & P. This store was noticably larger than any of those.

Secondly, it was more diverse. Some of the largeness was due to it having a built-in pharmacy, which none of the other stores did, but a good bit of it was from selling more than food. In the beginning, the place seemed almost like a mini department store to me, where you could never be sure just what you might find. For instance, I got the very first microwave oven I ever bought from the (now also closed) Kroger at Surfside Beach which also dates from this era, and I still recall how bemused I was to have found such a thing at a grocery store.

Thirdly, it was open late. I don't believe this store was ever 24 hours like the Forest & Beltline store, but it was open a good bit later than I was used to, and the idea that I could pop out at 10pm and buy something was very enticing. (Especially as I was starting to drive and then drive at night).

For a long time, this store, and Target carried Decker Mall. Then when the mall began to decline to the point that you either parked near Kroger or near Target because there was nothing interesting in-between, they locked the doors on the mall side of the store and made everyone come in the front. Finally, when the flight from the Decker corridor to Two Notch began and strengthened, both Kroger and Target moved into new stores, Kroger's in Sparkleberry Square, Target's just slightly east of that. I have never fully understood the demographic logic of that. Yes, the area is growing, and a new store there will make money, but it's not like everybody near Decker suddenly died -- the population that was there is still there. Of course, this store doesn't really fit in with Kroger's current look (which is, I admit, quite nice) and would have needed re-working at some point anyway. (I keep expecting the Forest & Beltline store to either close or remodel..)

Interestingly, and somewhat unexpectedly, Decker Mall survived the move of both anchors and continues to live on, mainly on the strength of the DMV, I suspect, but there actually are a few other ongoing operations there as well.

UPDATE 29 March 2010: The clouds were so nice today, I couldn't resist getting and adding some better shots above.

UPDATE 11 March 2011: Updated closing date due to research by commenter Andrew.

Written by ted on March 29th, 2010

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China City / Little China Buffet, 2500 Decker Boulevard: Jan 2010 (open again)   7 comments

Posted at 12:24 am in restaurants

I believe this Chinese restaurant on a Decker Mall outparcel has been there in one form or another ever since Decker Mall opened, making it much more durable than any of the stores inside the mall.

I'm not really sure when it closed. I was driving by today around noon and noticed that there were no cars in the lot, which I thought was odd, so I stopped to take a look. There is absolutely no indication that it is closed, other than the fact that it was not open. There was no "Sorry, Thanks for X Wonderful Years!" sign or anything like that, and all the fixtures still seem to be in place as well as third party items such as the gumball machines.

I'm saying "Jan 2010" then since that is recently enough to look fresh but far enough in the past that the phone being disconnected (which it is) makes sense.

This place is almost across the street from the old Jumbo Asian Buffet which is also defunct, but there is another Chinese restaurant just up the hill on Decker a bit, so the neighboorhood is not totally bereft.

UPDATE 19 Feb 2010: Added "China City" to the post title based on the comments.

UPDATE 5 June 2012 -- Somebody has been working inside this building recently after years of no activity at all:

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UPDATE 12 July 2012 -- Open again!

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Written by ted on February 19th, 2010

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Land of Oz, 2500 Decker Boulevard (Decker Mall): 1986   19 comments

Posted at 1:27 am in business,entertainment,historic

Actually, this might not be Land of Oz as I can't remember if that was at both Bush River & Decker Malls, or only at Bush River with this being another operation. Whatever the name, it was definitely the Decker Mall video arcade though.

In its current incarnation, it has had somewhat "regular" doors retrofitted into the distinctive flat-arch entranceway, but originally, I believe they just drew a sliding mesh curtain at nights.

The layout I most remember had Don Bluth's pioneering "Dragon's Lair" console dead center in the entranceway facing the hall. This game was a combination of traditional hand-drawn "cel" animation served up from a laser-disc (not a DVD!) and choose-your-adventure gameplay with the transition between the scenes being guided by the game-play lever. For instance, if a dragon was about to fry your knight, and you raised your shield, the disc would transition to a "flame bounces off shield" scene, if you didn't raise it, it would transition to an "the ashes of your character blow away scene" (those are just examples, I don't recall the actual specifics). Actually like many "pioneering" technologies, it wasn't that good because they were pushing the video scene changing tech further than it was really ready to go, and the transitions were really clunky.

If you turned left at "Dragon's Lair", there was a "Bezerk" somewhere in the left side of the store. This was the pushy game that would in "attract mode" declare "COIN DETECTED IN POCKET" from time to time. You had to either shoot the robots or run them into the electric walls. I liked it, but wasn't that good.

Somewhere against the back wall, I think was "Battlezone" a vector-graphics based POV tank game. You had two levers, one for each tank tread, and you could spin in place by running one tread fowards and the other tread backwards. I usually ended up fooling around with navigating the tank and getting shot.

I don't recall any more of the layout, but they definitely also had "Asteroids", "Space Invaders","Tempest", "Defender" (which I could not play at all -- too many things to keep track of), "Milipede", and "Missle Command". I suppose they must have had "Pac Man/Ms Pac Man", but I don't really recall it. I'm prettty sure they did not have some of my other favorites, "Star Castle", "Galaxian", "Phoenix", "Gorf", and "Joust", or my all-time favorite, "Galaga". Of course, it could just be that when I was in college, I went to Robos instead of here and thus missed the gradual turnover.

I'm not really sure when they closed. The mall underwent a long gradual decline that accelerated into death-spiral when Kroger and Target pulled out, but I think they were gone before that, probably late 80s I'm guessing.

UPDATE 18 June 2012: The last city directory listing Land of Oz is 1986, so I have updated the closing time in the post title from "1980s" to "1986".

Written by ted on July 22nd, 2009

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Richway / Gold Circle / Target, 2500 Decker Boulevard (Decker Mall): early 1990s   59 comments

Posted at 6:16 pm in historic,stores

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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