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               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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