Yesterday the Greenville News reported that the owner of an antique store on Wade Hampton Boulevard had been found shot to death in his store. Bedding World Outlet and Antiques was a long-established business, located right next door to Henry’s Smokehouse. It was notable as much for it’s quonset-hut shaped architecture and cigar store Indian out front as for its fine collection of antiques. The place looked like crap from the outside, but one could find some bargains.
The stretch between Stone Avenue and Pleasantburg has none of the new gleaming construction that graces (or blights, depending on your point of view) the Woodruff Road area. There are some long-established businesses, but most are in buildings that one would probably cruise right past unless they knew what to look for. That stretch includes some of my favorite eateries, namely Henry’s and Haus Edleweis, as well as the first IHOP in town. It also includes four questionable bars – the Cotton Bottom, Ty’s Place, and something else I can’t remember, and three equally questionable motels.
I knew the area had long been in decline. This was the case for most of the time that we lived in the North Main area. A friend had worked at one of the little motels on Wade Hampton, and described some of the unsavory characters that wandered in. In recent months the city forced the motel to close temporarily because of its reputation as a base of operations for drug deals, etc., etc.
My first indication that something was truly wrong was on a visit to Howard’s ABC store. On the rare occasion that I do stop by a liquor store, I had found Howard’s to be a friendly, helpful place. It was convenient to where we lived. Even after we moved to our new house, it was easier to run over there than to fight the mall traffic around Green’s. On my last (and final) visit to the store, the display shelves were in disarray, and boxes were stacked everywhere. I asked the proprietor if he were remodeling, and he said he was rearranging to provide a clearer line of fire. It was at that time that I noticed the rather large hand gun strapped to his side very prominently. I figured that either (A) he was a right-wing gun nut, or (B) he truly felt threatened. In either case, I decided that I could find what I needed elsewhere from here on out.
There is a very poor neighborhood bounded by Wade Hampton, Stone Avenue, and East North Street. That neighborhood as always been there, and there have been some signs of revitalization. Therefore, I’m somewhat at a loss as to the increase in crime in the area. I’m hoping that some of the new business activity that’s starting on the Stone Avenue/North Main area filters on down to Wade Hampton. It is a major artery of the city. Only then with increased traffic and higher visibilty will the area see real revitalization.