Shop Around

2 new openings solidify Columbia’s emerging retail scene

krupon@thestate.comApril 23, 2014 

  • New to Columbia

    •  Mast General Store, 1601 Main St., a country-cool general store and cutting-edge outdoor outfitter, opened May 2011

    •  Forever 21, 100 Columbiana Circle in Columbiana Centre mall, sells fashionable women’s clothing at value prices, opened May 2011

    •  Whole Foods, 702 Cross Hill Road, a grocer focusing on natural, healthy and whole foods, opened October 2012

    •  Trader Joe’s, 4516 Forest Drive, a low-cost grocer focusing on healthy and convenience foods, opened March 2013

    •  Urban Outfitters, 912 Gervais St., a hipster-haven selling clothing, accessories and oddities, opened July 2013

    •  Nordstrom Rack, 278-A Harbison Blvd., the off-price division of retailer Nordstrom, opening this fall

    •  J.Crew and Anthropologie opening this fall in Trenholm Plaza, 4840 Forest Drive

J.Crew and Anthropologie — two national retailers new to the Columbia scene — will set up shop in Trenholm Plaza in the recently closed Books-A-Million space, the shopping center’s developer told The State Wednesday.

J.Crew, which features casual and dressy clothing and accessories for the family, and Anthropologie, which sells women’s clothing and accessories, as well as home décor, both will open in the fall at the shopping center at the corner of Forest Drive and Trenholm Plaza in Forest Acres.

“It’s really exciting. We’ve been pursuing these tenants for years,” said Lyle Darnall, managing director for Edens, a major East Coast shopping center developer and owner, based in Columbia. “The timing was finally right.”

The development is another sign that Columbia is coming into its own as a draw for popular stores.

The trend started three years ago when Mast General Store took a chance on a redeveloping Main Street. Since then, Columbia has seen an influx of retailers, including Whole Foods near Devine Street, Trader Joe’s in Forest Acres, Urban Outfitters in the Vista and Nordstrom Rack in the Harbison area.

In many cases, the retailers have been open in the Upstate or the Lowcountry for years, leaving Columbia shoppers wondering why the Midlands couldn’t attract the highly sought-after stores.

“It’s been a good couple of years for Columbia,” Edens’ Darnall said. “It has not been without hard work. It’s nice to see this caliber of retailer make it in the market.”

The continuing trend of national retailers coming to the Midlands is a ripple effect that likely will lead to even more shopping options, said Marianne Bickle, department chair of retailing for the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management at the University of South Carolina.

“These are very big names, and these are competitors,” she said. “It will draw in more consumers, and competition is very good among retailers.”

Currently, shoppers in Columbia pick one area of town to shop. But as options get better, they likely will be willing to shop more than one area during a shopping trip, she said.

“Psychologically, the stores are getting so wonderful in all the areas – and that includes eating establishments – (consumers) are going to say, ‘Let’s get in the car and we can map out where we want to go.’

“It’s almost starting to be where they don’t have to go to Charlotte to have a wonderful shopping experience. That’s what we want to see.”

Anthropologie, owned by the same company as Urban Outfitters, will take up about 9,700 square feet of space in the former bookstore site. J.Crew will take up about 6,000 square feet. Both stores have locations in the Greenville, Myrtle Beach and Charleston areas. That will leave about 3,500 square feet that Edens hopes to lease to a local retailer, possibly in the fashion realm, Darnall said.

Regional retailer Scout & Molly’s, a clothing boutique, also will open this summer in the center near Café Caturra.

“It’s important to the community that it’s not all national (tenants),” Darnall said.

Five years ago, Edens undertook a major renovation project at Trenholm Plaza – home to Columbia’s first Starbucks — upgrading the exterior with new trees, teak benches and mahogany storefronts. The developer then began recruiting a mix of retailers, landing Columbia’s first Chipotle and Café Caturra. An Ann Taylor Loft and Soma Intimates also opened in recent years. Local retailers, such as MACK Home and Gwen Rawls Shoes, also have brought a local feel to the center.

Edens, which also developed Cross Hill Market, where the new Whole Food is located, has a philosophy of making its shopping centers the “living room” of a community, company leaders have said. “Every move we make, we make with that in mind,” Darnall said.

New to Columbia

Mast General Store, 1601 Main St., a country-cool general store and cutting-edge outdoor outfitter, opened May 2011

Forever 21, 100 Columbiana Circle in Columbiana Centre mall, sells fashionable women’s clothing at value prices, opened May 2011

Whole Foods, 702 Cross Hill Road, a grocer focusing on natural, healthy and whole foods, opened October 2012

Trader Joe’s, 4516 Forest Drive, a low-cost grocer focusing on healthy and convenience foods, opened March 2013

Urban Outfitters, 912 Gervais St., a hipster-haven selling clothing, accessories and oddities, opened July 2013

Nordstrom Rack, 278-A Harbison Blvd., the off-price division of retailer Nordstrom, opening this fall

J.Crew and Anthropologie opening this fall in Trenholm Plaza, 4840 Forest Drive

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