Downtown Columbia is seeing a resurgence in retail boutiques in three main areas, with openings including the Circa 1332 men’s shop on Main Street, Monkee’s women’s clothing on Devine Street and Entourage clothing store on Lady Street in the Vista.
A look at downtown’s three areas:
Main Street. When Mast General Store opened on Columbia’s Main Street in the spring of 2011, the economy still was sluggish. But a noticeable buzz was building along the corridor.
More than three years later, the street has filled with restaurants and retailers, and more than 850 young, full-time residents have moved into a posh, high-rise apartment complex called The Hub.
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“The Hub was a huge catalyst for (the growth),” said Hance Jones, a partner with Carolinas Retail Partners in Columbia. Throw in a growing Saturday morning farmers market and a monthly after-hours event on the first Thursday of each month, and “it just is a perfect recipe for adding retail. ... It used to be, after 5 o’clock, all it was was a bunch of wind.”
The Vista. Boutique retail growth also is spreading through the Vista as the University of South Carolina expands toward the Congaree River. Thousands of more student beds are expected to open in the area over the next few years as multiple housing projects are built. That is expected to drive retail and restaurant growth further out from the Vista’s core area along Gervais Street, which last year landed national retailer Urban Outfitters.
“There is no question that is going to make a powerful impact,” said Rox Pollard, director of the retail services group for Colliers International commercial real estate firm in Columbia. Already, a deal is in the works to bring retail and residential units to the Palmetto Compress Building on Blossom street.
Devine Street. While this longtime boutique retail corridor has ebbed and flowed over the years, it is firmly in growth mode now, attracting a popular breakfast and lunch spot, Eggs Up Grill, and an influx of small shops, such as a temporary Lululemon store and London Lace bridal shop, which is moving into the recently shuttered Kicks Shoes.
“There’s a pedestrian synergy that occurs there that doesn’t happen anywhere else (in the Midlands),” Pollard said.
That is partly because Devine is a “destination street,” he said. “It’s more vibrant now than it’s maybe ever been in that regard.”