Archive for the ‘Trenholm Plaza’ tag
For most of my life, this building was a Gulf Station and was our default family choice for gas and light service.
After the place closed as a Gulf, it seemed to go through several phases that I am now hazy on. In particular, I think there was a period after it was a full service station and before Circle K when it was still a gas-only station, but without service. During this period, the service bays were closed, but the car-wash bay was still in operation, and you could get a code to with each fill-up to go through the wash.
Circle K took over the place in sort of a half-hearted way. They never really committed to making the place a "modern" convenience store, and the service and wash bays remained walled off, but unconverted, forcing the convenience operation into a really small cramped space. In particular, they never put in interior bathrooms as all stores now do, and the old Gulf restrooms on the Trenholm Road side of the station remained the only ones (though they were never ADA-ed).
Though the place remained my default gas station, there were some inconvenient touches to that aspect as well. First they gradually closed off the Trenholm Road door. At first sometimes you would go and it would be open and sometimes it would be locked, then finally it was always locked. Second, they took the pump locks off the pump handles. That meant you had to hold the pump handle throughout the whole fueling operation. I think some places feel this is a safety issue, but I say that's bunk. Thirdly, from time to time, they seemed to have the slowest pumps in SC. On those days, I think if I had not pre-paid, I would have just driven off rather than wait for the gentle trickle to creep up to $20. (Of course nothing *creeps* to $20 nowdays..)
Initially when the place was a Union 76, even though the store itself was technically a Circle K, they signage played up the 76 affiliation, and the Circle K branding was almost invisible. Sometime last fall, they completely, and messily, disaffiliated from Union 76, knocking out the logo panel on their street sign, and pasting Circle K branding on the pumps (take off the pumps now that the CK is closed).
(Hat tip to commenter Matt)
UPDATE 23 May 2011 -- various pictures as below:
On 17 May, it appeared that the underground tanks were being pumped dry:
On 18 May, they started digging up the underground tanks. Hopefully all those holes in the tanks were made during the excavation:
By 21 May, the tanks had been carted off:
By 22 May, the hole has been partly filled in, the pumps are off in the corner, and the next step is unclear. Knock the building down? Start an interior refit?
UPDATE 16 June 2011 -- Hmm. New sign, and it appears that the building is slated to be torn down. A ground lease is a type of lease where the tennant gets to build on the land during the lease period, and of course build-to-suit means a new building as well. Looking at the supports for the canopy on the Trenholm Road side, it appears that they have already decided that backing into things doesn't matter anymore..
UPDATE 18 July 2011 -- Well, demolition has started. Already the canopies have been knocked down. They haven't torn into the building itself as far as the walls go, but it sure doesn't look like it's long for the world:
UPDATE 19 July 2011 -- Well the end has come! Interestingly, the bathrooms were the last piece left standing. I shot some video of them knocking down part of the bathroom wall, but it didn't come out:
UPDATE 19 July 2011: The whole building is down now. Also added first pic of Circle K logo at top:
UPDATE 20 July 2011: Add 18 July 2011 photoset below.
UPDATE 21 July 2011: Today they knocked down the street sign and the trailer is gone. (No pix yet). Also I added the 19 July photoset below.
UPDATE 23 September 2011 -- Well, the place is apparently to be a Circle K again according to the new sign in the lot. And in the meantime, the old chargecard sign hangs on..
UPDATE 5 May 2012 -- It appears that new construction has finally started, or at least excavation:
UPDATE 21 May 2012 -- Landscaping and excavation continue and now they have boarded out the foundations for part of the new construction. Apparently they will be building in what was green space in the former Bell's Drive-In as well as the old Gulf/Circle K lot. At least my memory is that Gulf & Bell's sort of shared a parking lot, but that Bell's itself sat in this little strip between the gas station and the drugstore which never had a building after Bell's was torn down:
UPDATE 2 June 2012 -- The new underground tanks are going in:
UPDATE 6 June 2012 -- Looks like it's going to be a fairly small building:
UPDATE 17 August 2012 -- The new building is almost ready to open. In fact, I saw a car pull up to the "Redbox" and apparently rent a movie:
UPDATE 12 September 2012 -- The construction is finished, and the new store is open. I was conflicted as to whether I should mark the post as "open again" given that it is a completely new building, but in the end I did. If it ever closes again though, it will get a separate closing..
This corner space at Trenholm Plaza was most recently occupied by The UPS Store, but when I was growing up, it was Ed Robinson's, though I probably never knew it by name.
My mother did not believe in clothes dryers, opting for a clothes-line in the back yard. This was fine most of the time, but since rain is not unknown in the Columbia area, every now and then we would be faced with a need for clothes that were not yet dry. In addition to that, in the 1960s I had the impression that our washer was something of a lemon. There were fairly frequent calls to the service man, and more than once I recall the floor covered in sudsy water.
When we needed clothes washed or dryed, there were two choices: either the laundomat by what is now city hall on Trenholm Road, or the one in Trenholm Plaza. I think that when my mother had to deal with us children, we tended to end up at Ed Robinson since she could let us "free-range" around the plaza while the clothes were cycling.
As I recall, the staffed laundry was in the east end of the building with the laundromat area being in the west end. The laundromat area was filled with tables and wheeled hampers, and smelled of soap and hot lint. As I recall, the tables were some sort of plastic, or covered with plastic and hued aqua-marine. I would sit on them, and swing my legs back and forth (this must have been before I could read, or I would have had a book). As a boy I was fascinated by mechanical devices of all sorts, and I was particularly fixated on the gas dryers which lined the west wall. Not only did they have sort of retro-spaceship-control sliders for varying the temp from "warm" to "way too hot", but they were large enough (floor to ceiling) that I could imagine actually riding in one (this was during Gemini & Apollo) with more room to spare than the astronauts had. The start (or "blast off") process was particularly satisfying as you put your quarter in a slot way at the top of the machine (I had to use a chair), turned a knob which had a very satisfying action, heard your coin drop with a cheery plink, and then got to push the starter button which wound the whole thing up.
The washers were not quite as interesting, but did have a variety of little plastic tops you could put on the agitator for reasons which escape me now, and of course you could always play "open the lid -- washer stops" / "close the lid -- washer starts" until my mother would make me stop so she would get a full wash from her quarter.
I'm not sure when the cleaner closed. I know it was still there in 1970, but think it was gone by the time I left town in 1985. As for myself, while I agree with my mother that line dried clothes are nicer than tumble-dried ones, I don't have her patience. The line is still in the back yard, but the clothes go in the Kenmore. (And for all that I tend to be a "they don't make them like that anymore" guy, I don't think I've ever had to call service on a modern washer or drier..)
The original plan for Trenholm Plaza was to tear down the whole wing, and The UPS Store moved across the way in anticipation of that, but in the event the economy collapsed and management scaled their plans back to doing a remodel instead. Most of the spaces have been re-filled, but the old Ed Robinson space is currently still empty.
UPDATE 29 November 2011 -- It's to be a Cafe Caturra:
UPDATE 7 February 2012 -- The Cafe Caturra looks about ready to open:
As usual, I got to the library about 5 minutes before closing time, and was trying to look up several things. One of them was old City Directory listings for Trenholm Plaza. In the event, I got two, one for 1964, when I would have been three years old, and perhaps dimly conscious that we were going to the same places a lot, and one from 1970 when I would have been nine years old, and looking forward to Western Auto visits to window shop at all the "hobby batteries" and bicycles.
I'm pretty sure Trenholm Plaza was a golf course not too many years before 1964, so that wave of stores is probably pretty close to the original list:
While many of those stores lasted for years, the USPO is the only original tenant left.
There are a lot of hold-overs in 1970, but a good bit of turnover as well:
Interestingly (to me), I can't for the life of me recall a Gene's Pig 'n Chick in Trenholm Plaza at all, and I would have thought it would have stuck in my mind. I don't recall those dentists either, and in fact am a little surprised by seeing non-retail there.
Of these TP stores, I've done closings for:
UPDATE 11 October 2013: Look at this great 1979 picture of Trenholm Plaza. Be sure to zoom all the way in, and pan around. Thanks to commenter Dennis for finding this!
I see from the sign on the door that Rogers Brothers has another store in Florence, which I did not know. It seems this section of Devine Street has been volatile over the last few years, with Al Amir and Saffron closing next door and Birds On A Wire, Ben & Jerry's and Tiffany's closing across the street.
(Hat tip to commenter Matt.)
OK, you knew you were going to be seeing these pictures again, right?
Frankly, until I saw the old pictures, I had completely forgotten there was ever a store called The Banker's Note in Trenholm Plaza, and even after seeing them, I had no idea what it was, or what it sold.
As you can see, the store was east of the A&P and more or less where the current Books-A-Million is. From this shot, it's unclear to me if it included the corner location where the plaza dips north.
Doing a bit of googling turns up this information:
by 1997 the firm had renamed itself to VSI Holdings, Inc.. I'm a bit unclear as to whether a change of ownership happened then, but I don't think so, as the HQ was still in Smyrna.
Ten years ago last month Suchik opened the first Banker's Note store in Roswell, Ga., outside Atlanta. In 1981 he took the four-unit operation public to repay his manufacturer-partner, with profits. Two years ago there were 32 of the units averaging 4,000 sq. ft. One year ago there were 42 Banker's Note stores. At this writing, there are 72 units with 18 more planned by the end of the current fiscal year.
The five year plan, Suchik said, calls for year plan, Suchik said, in sales by the fiscal year ending Feb. 1, 1991. For the year ended Feb 1, 1987, sales hit $34.8 million. Wall Street sees the chain pulling in a volume of $47 to $53 million for the current fiscal year.
In the next five years, store expansion will be concentrated in the nine southeastern states The Banker's Note already operates in from North Carolina down to Florida and Westward to Tennessee and Texas. The chain possibly will invade adjacent markets in Oklahoma and perhaps Arkansas, Suchik added.
Its ambitious expansion plans, the proliferation of off-pricing and discounting by traditional stores continue to force constant adjustments. "In this business no one can afford to rest on his laurels,' said Suchik.
It appears that VSI had wider ambitions than just clothing, and that in 1999 they made a move into the software business. Maybe that didn't go so well, because by 2001 the owners were shopping the company around, looking for a buyer. It looked as if SPX would do the deal, but the deal unexpectedly fell-through later that year. Apparently after that, the company tried to wind down in an orderly fashion, but in late 2002 a lawsuit by "recalcitrant creditors" forced them into an unplanned Chapter 11.
One thing I don't see anywhere is any mention of why they ever called themselves The Banker's Note. It's certainly not a name that suggests apparel. I'm not sure when this store closed, but it was definitely gone by 1998.
A while back I realized that I had over 30 years of 35mm negatives that were going to need to be digitized at some point, not to mention 126 Instamatic and 620 Brownie negatives dating into the 1960s. I figured I could nickle & dime myself to death gradually getting them scanned at Ritz or Photoworks.com, or I could bite the bullet, get a negative scanner and do it myself. I ended up with this Nikon negative scanner, and on the whole I've been quite happy with it. The resolution is much higher than I was getting from commercial scanning, though it also takes much longer to scan a roll of negatives than I was expecting.
So anyway, my sister dug up some old negatives from a 1987 signing for her first book, and asked me to scan them. As soon as I saw where the signing was, I knew I was going to want to use some of them here. My second question to her, after asking if I could use the pictures was whether she wanted her name and face blurred, but on reflection that a pretty stupid one. After all, she is an award winning children's book author with her own web site who, as all authors do, would like you to know her name and buy her books, especially her latest one!
Chapter Two Books was in Trenholm Plaza most of the time I was growing up. It was a fairly small storefront on the Edisto/Holligan's side of the plaza next to the barber shop. In the days when I would get $3.00 for mowing the lawn, I would take the money down there and buy a new Tom Swift, Jr. book. Unlike Browz-A-Bit and Walden's at Dutch Square, science-fiction was not a major category here, and the selection of SF paperbacks (and paperbacks vs hardbacks in general), was pretty small, so aside from Tom Swift, I usually ended up spending my strictly limited funds at one of those stores rather than here, but I do distinctly remember that Chapter Two sold me the last $0.50 paperback I ever saw, a copy of Robert Heinlein's classic Young Adult novel Farmer In the Sky.
Although it was not the intention of any of these shots, if you look out the windows (on the click-through versions especially), you can see a good bit of the old Trenholm Plaza landscape: Tapp's Twig, The Banker's Note, A & P and Standard Federal. By this time the original "steeple" A & P had been torn down and replaced with a more modern design (which was itself torn down for Publix), and the current Books-A-Million location was several storefronts.
I'm not sure exactly when Chapter Two closed. If I didn't have this evidence that it was still there in 1987, I would have guessed then or earlier. In any event, I believe it was gone before Books-A-Million arrived, and I have the vague feeling that the owner decided to retire and close the shop.
This building on the corner of Forest Drive & Trenholm Road was a Gulf station during my childhood, and indeed well into my driving days. I believe it was officially identified by the owner's name (which I cannot now recall) but to us, it was just the Gulf station, or even the filling station, as it was the one where we most often filled our cars.
During most of this time, it was a full-service gas station which meant that when you pulled in, you would trip a compressed air bell by driving over the hose and a guy would walk out to take care of you. Not only would he fill your tank with Good Gulf, but would open the hood, check the oil, open the cells on the battery filling each with water if needed, check the anti-freeze and windshield wiper levels and at least eyeball your tires.
In addition to gas, this station also had a mechanic on duty and two lift bays where he could change fan-belts, hoses, thermostats, oil, headlights and the like. Over the years, we had many minor repairs done on our cars here (for more major work, we went to the dealer or Bob Andrews).
The area behind the station is very spacious, moreso than makes sense now, but during a lot of this time, Bell's Drive-In was back there in a building that is now completely gone.
The old air stations are still there (though inoperative), and always fascinated me as a kid. There was some sort of crank the attendant would work to bring up a specific PSI number on the (entirely mechanical) "display", then he would put the hose to the tire, and the machine would make a very memorable "ding" as each pound of air went in.
I'm a little fuzzy on all the details now, but the place changed character in a number of stages. First I think the mechanic went, with a drive-through carwash replacing one of the service bays then the Gulf brand went away after it was bought out by BP, then most of the Columbia BPs were changed to Union 76s. I believe that by the time it became a Union 76, it was already operating in convenience store mode with the gas totally self-service. Though the Union 76 signage is much more prominent, the store itself is a Circle-K. For some reason, they never did reclaim the space from the carwash / second service bay for interior space -- I suppose it's storage now. The building itself is still largely unchanged and if the light is right, and you stand at the right angle, you can still see the painted over Gulf logo on the outside wall above and to the left of the front door.
UPDATE 6 Oct 2010 -- Apparently they have dropped the Union 76 affiliation:
UPDATE 19 July 2011: The building is gone! See the Circle K closing for pix.
The UPS Store at Trenholm Plaza made the move across the parking lot from the Holligan's wing to the Post Office side near the new Italian restaurant. It rejoins former neighbor Foilline Vision Center there, leaving Holligan's as the only business still operating on the outer edge of the plaza. At one time I had heard Holligan's was to move into the old Rogers Brothers spot, then I had heard it was going into the old Coldstone location. Unless the property owners have changed their mind about tearing down that wing, it will have to go somewhere.
I find it a little interesting that the UPS store is now so close to the Post Office. In theory, they are competitors, and strip malls often have "no compete" clauses that play into who they will lease to. I remember an interesting news story about a court forced to rule if a "burrito" was a "sandwich" to decide if a property owner had broken a promise to a sandwich shop not to allow another sandwich shop in. Of course Trenholm Plaza has always been weird that way. They have two grocery stores, and essentially two "Hallmark" stores.
UPDATE 29 November 2011: The old location is to be a Cafe Caturra.