When I was first in the market for a car, many of the dealerships I visited were in one of two places: Two Notch Road in Northeast Columbia and Greystone Boulevard near the zoo.
Greystone still has a concentration of dealerships, but many of the Two Notch dealerships are moving to Killian Road off of I-77. The State has a story about the mass exodus.
Dealerships need a lot of land and really must be close to an interstate. They are moving out the interstates to less developed exits where land is more available and affordable. There is a Honda dealership in Lexington off of 378. Toyota on I-26 past Harbison. Chevy and Hyundai have dealerships at the Clemson Road exit at I-20. And of course, the explosions of dealerships at Killian Road at I-77.
In Columbia, we’ve got almost all the dealerships* that you would expect to find in a city our size with one exception: Mini**.
Judging by the number of Minis*** that you see on the road, you’d think there was one in Columbia. But the closest dealerships are located in Charleston, Greenville and Charlotte.
Most Mini dealerships are connected to BMW dealers, and I think that is the problem. BMW of Columbia is located off of Two Notch in a pretty dated facility. I’ve assumed that at some point, that dealership will move and I’ve hoped that when they build a new complex, they’ll make room for a Mini dealership. I’ve long assumed that they will build out around the Killian Road area, but they aren’t mentioned among the dealerships planning to make the move from Two Notch to Killian Road. Until they move, Mini lovers will likely have to drive an hour or more for sales and service.
* I wouldn’t expect to see a Tesla dealership in Columbia anytime soon. But I’d love to see a Supercharger station.
** Mini is #5 on our Wanted in Columbia list.
*** I really like the new Mini Clubman. Might be a possible replacement for my Rabbit in a couple of years… unless I decide to go electric.