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               MYRTLE SQUARE MALL: MYRTLE BEACH, SC

Kevin Gaskill's Commentary:

Posted March 21, 2005 (user submitted)

Myrtle Square Mall is located near the center of the Myrtle Beach, SC area on Highway 17 business. It is within walking distance of the beach and many motels. It opened in 1975 and was the first enclosed mall in the area. It was 450,00 square feet in size. According to varying sources, the mall housed 80 -90 stores including Sears, Belks and the usual assortment of national stores typical to malls in the area. The mall won several awards, and its interior included a giant overhead neon clock in the center court area. This is visible in the pictures. Some online articles mention a miniature indoor golf course, and an ocean themed food court making industry headlines in 1988. The mall underwent major renovations in 1989.

Probably the critical event the MSM's life was the building of a bypass that ran parallel to the business highway near the beach, but some distance inland. Two other malls were also built, one north before the bypass branched off, and one south where the highways rejoined. I don't have any dates for these events however. This brings us up to my first visit. I was heavily involved with a Christian Retreat in Myrtle Beach and was in the area throughout the 90's. All 3 malls seemed to be doing well, but MSM became my favorite because it contained an Andy Owings Music Center. Being a musician, I loved to go check out the guitars and all the other music related stuff. I remember the overhead clock, but actually didn't realize what it was until researching this, Duh! During a family trip to the area, baby son had his first picture with Santa taken at the mall.

On my first trip down there, there wasn't a lot out on the bypass, but it seemed like every trip, something new was going up. A large open air shopping/entertainment called Broadway At The Beach, and lots of big box centers, theaters, restaurants and golf courses began opening. I never really thought about its effect on the mall, being nearly on the beach, I assumed that traffic alone would be enough to keep the mall thriving. My regular trips to the area ended probably around 2000, and the last time I was in the mall, all seemed well.

Then in Feb 2005 my wife and I were in Myrtle Beach downtown area looking for a guitar repair shop. We drove by the mall and I was shocked to see an empty parking lot. When I returned to pick up my guitar two weeks later I brought my camera and actually visited the mall. The water fountains at the sign were still in operation (pic01) and there were a couple of cars near the front entrance. I assumed the mall was completely dead and they were just parked there for some other reason. I drove around to the right and snapped another picture of a secondary front entrance, (pic02) I believe this was for Sears. Driving on around to the extreme north end, here is another Sears entrance. (pic03) Further on around near the back, I assume a Sears service entrance. Translation anyone, PICK-UP ???. (pic04). I found reference to the mall having a carousel, probably before I was there. I imagine it was here at this rear entrance. Looks like a neon sculpture is still lighted. One of the door signs says our of order. (pic05) Ahh! Signs of life just to the right of the preceding picture. (pic06) Next at the center of the rear of the mall a Peebles department store is still open, for some reason I didn't take a pic. There seemed to be a decent number of cars and people traffic in and out. I didn't go in, I was thinking Peebles is mainly a women's type of store, so I continued to drive around to the south end of the mall. Here is the extreme south entrance to Belks. Shop until 9:00. Maybe, but not at this location. (pic07)

As I drove back around front I noticed a few people coming out of the main entrance! I parked walked up. Another car drove up and a woman got out and walked up also. As she passed someone else coming out I heard her ask if this was a ghost mall, so evidently she wasn't local. The other person answered yes, but that there were a few stores still open. Walking in, an Eckerd Drug store was immediately to the left, open with some customers shopping in the store. I'm not sure, but I don't think that store was an Eckerds the last time I was there. I don't remember the stores along the short hallway to the center court area. Here in the center is a vacant Guest Services desk. Above and behind it you can see some of the overhead neon clock. Most all the storefronts still have their logos like this Baskin Robbins and Payless Shoes. (pic08) Better view of the center court, dry fountain, overhead clock and still tended plants. Some kind of restaurant is to the right behind the curtain. I think that's a Zale's just under the number 9. (pic09) I obeyed this sign and didn't go further into the right side wing. Some type of Jeweler, a Body Shop and more I can't remember or make out from the pic. Sears would be at the far end. The carousel court and DMV office noted in the outside pictures would be at the far end to the left also. Plants, both inside and out, are still in good shape. (pic10) The next out of focus picture is the interior entrance of the Peebles store, straight across from the main mall entrance. They're having a "red dot" sale, no mention of going out of business. (pic11) Moving on around the center court looking down the left side wing. Coastal Carolina University has a training center to the right. From what I've read, it was still in operation at the time, but appeared closed at that particular time. Yes, it was a Belks at this end, the logo is still up at the far end. (pic12)

The new mall is much bigger and located on the bypass. It opened in March 2004, with about half of MSM's stores making the change. I think it's supposed to be the largest in SC, and was built by the owner of MSM. I don't think it was doing badly, but the owners saw the bypass as a better location. From what I've found on the web, they are attempting to pitch the mall to the city for expansion of a convention center facility across the street. The mall is still very clean and well maintained, so hopefully that will be successful. From March 2004 to the present, the mall emptied as the remaining store' s leases came up. It looks like only Eckerds and Peebles are left, aside from the DMV office and college testing facility. According to the web, Peebles is leased until Jan 2006 so we'll see what happens.

Links:

Myrtle Square Tribute Website
Mall Owner of Myrtle Square
Mall Owner press release
Local news story on mall
Online forum discussion

Bing Bird's Eye View:

Myrtle Square mall from the sky









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