With a new general manager and new tenants, the Columbiana Centre mall on Harbison Boulevard is set to continue its run as one of the top malls in the state as its heads into its 25th year.
At 94 percent capacity and contracts pending for the last two available spaces, General Manager Andrew Peach, 31, is still squeezing retailers into the busy Harbison-area mall in anticipation of what he expects to be a hectic Black Friday.
“With the mix of holidays, we’re getting ready to be jam-packed,” Peach said. “We’ve got traffic plans to set up and new retailers to go see.”
Since opening in 1990, the mall has been a hot spot for some of the top retailers in the market. It has the Midlands’ only Forever 21, Coach store and standalone Sephora store.
And the influx continues, with any spaces that become vacant filling quickly. The Southern-style women’s fashion boutique Altar’d State opened earlier this fall, and Charming Charlie, a jewelry, accessories and clothing store, will open Monday. Belk also is working on a new standalone men’s store to fill a portion of the recently shuttered Sears store.
Upscale boutiques are the norm for Columbiana Centre. It’s what the mall has come to be known for. While other malls in the area are trying to build themselves into large lifestyle centers with movie theaters and arcades and laser tag rinks, Columbiana stays focused on a more refined, fashion-forward experience.
“It’s hard to run comparisons on malls in South Carolina – we’re all in different demographic areas of the state – but we’re highly competitive,” said Peach, who came to the Irmo center from Dallas. “We’re one of the best centers in the state, and nationwide we’re considered a fairly upscale center. I guess you could say we’re competing well with our counterparts.”
But there is something missing from the popular center. According to Peach, the pervading complaint among patrons is, “Where is a sit-down restaurant?”
A variety of express foods can be picked up in the food court, but there’s nowhere for shoppers looking to escape the feel of a crowded cafeteria to chow down. To fill the void – and some hungry stomachs – Peach says he is working on bringing a sit-down restaurant to the former Spinnaker’s space.
“We’re in negotiations on what sit-down restaurant,” Peach said. “Can’t really say (which ones) – there’s talk of several things.”
Meanwhile, as the thriving center heads into its 25th holiday shopping season, it is aiming to put patrons in the holiday spirit. Santa will be in town for photos with the kids starting Saturday through Christmas Eve (furry, sloppy children are welcome on Monday evening Pet Nights). And the Salvation Army plans an Angel Tree to collect donations for those less fortunate.