DECKER MALL: COLUMBIA, SC
Lewis Bozard's Commentary
Posted March 29, 2006 (user submitted)
Decker Mall is located on Decker Blvd. in northeastern Columbia, South
Carolina, only a couple miles from both I-20 and I-77. At the time the mall
opened in 1977, it was in a prime retail corridor, with Columbia Mall (also
opened in 1977), Kmart, and a host of other centers and restaurants in the
area. Decker Mall was originally anchored by Kroger Sav-On and Richway, with
about 200,000 square feet. Bush River Mall across town was built at the same
time and had the same anchor stores, with an identical appearance. Kroger
Sav-On was an early 'supercenter' sort of concept, a Kroger supermarket that
added housewares, cosmetics, a pharmacy, a florist, office supplies, and other
goods not normally found in a grocery store of the time.
Richway was the
discount store concept of Rich's department store, based in Atlanta. The
Richway store at Decker included the chain's distinctive green and orange
raised skylight wedges atop the roof. The two anchor stores were joined by a
single hall with various mall stores, most of them local. The design and
furnishings were plain and basic, with a white tile floor, tan walls, and a few
planters and benches scattered sparsely throughout the hall. Kroger, which had
sometime previously dropped the Sav-On part of its name, closed in 2000 when a
new store opened several miles away on Two Notch Road. Richway became Gold
Circle in 1986 along with the rest of the chain. In 1989 it was reincarnated
as Target, which remained until 2001, when Target also moved out to the quickly
developing stretch of Two Notch Road several miles northeast. In early 2006
the mall is barely hanging on with no major anchor store. The Department of
Motor Vehicles is one of very few remaining tenants.
In 2004 there was
discussion of converting the entire mall to a magnet school but the cost was
deemed prohibitive. The surrounding retail corridor has undergone a steady
decline in recent years, with many chain stores and restaurants moving further
out Two Notch. Some local residents and business leaders have been working to
revive Decker Blvd. with an international flair, and Decker Mall has played
host in recent years to an international festival as part of the movement.
Time will tell whether Decker Mall will survive in any form, but for now, it is
a mere shadow of its former self.
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