Columbia, S.C. — The vending machine of the future is now at Columbiana Centre in Columbias Harbison area.
The Irmo-area mall was one of only five in the nation selected by PepsiCo for a pilot program of its new part-entertaining, part-thirst-quenching vending machines.
The machines one is in the food court and another is near the Charlotte Russe womens outlet have large interactive screens that take up almost the entire front. Customers can play video games to try to win a drink and can gift a drink to somebody in another mall that has the machine. (Currently, the machines also are General Growth Properties malls in Happy Valley, Ore.; Savannah; Eau Claire, Wis.; and Lancaster, Pa.)
And, oh, did you forget to charge your cellphone or tablet computer? You can do that, too, by plugging directly into the machine.
The machines also play high-energy Pepsi commercials when not in use.
And one more thing, you can buy a drink after viewing its full nutritional content on screen.
The malls general manager, Tom Dornfeld, said he doesnt know if all companies eventually will go digital and interactive with their vending machines. But, he added, When we get the busloads of kids, they seem to love it.
• Publix at 2800 Rosewood Drive is getting a pharmacy. The 27,000-square-foot store Publixs smallest store size opened 10 years ago without a pharmacy, spokeswoman Brenda Reid said. But the grocer is adding one now as a convenience for customers who expect to be able to have their prescriptions filled while they shop for groceries. The pharmacy will be located in the former greeting cards section and will open by the end of the year. (Greeting cards have been moved to a traditional aisle.)
• Speaking of Publix, the supermarket chain is teaming up with the American Red Cross to offer assistance to areas of the Northeast U.S. affected by Hurricane Sandy. Customers are able to donate any amount they choose by adding it to their grocery bill at any store.
• An exhibition running through Nov. 17 at if ART Gallery, 1223 Lincoln St., highlights the work of 18 artists represented by the gallery. The artists are included in a new book 100 Southern Artists. South Carolina is the most represented state in the book, largely because of the artists featured in the exhibition. Many of the artists including Jeff Donovan, Laura Spong and David Yaghjian have works available for purchase at the gallery.