Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jun 2003
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2003 The State
Author: Joe Guy Collier, Staff Writer


Five Points Shop Has Reunion As It Closes After 30-Plus Years at Heart of 

Barbara Howell stood in the back corner as she watched her store, the
Joyful Alternative, fill up with customers Saturday afternoon.

The Five Points shop has been part of Columbia's counterculture since
1970, but later this month, Howell, one of eight co-founders of the
store, will close the Joyful Alternative because of slowing business.

The store held a reunion Saturday with acoustic music and poetry

"This is like a chapter of their lives leaving," said Howell, 57.
"People just figured we'd always be here."

The store has hippie-inspired products, such as greeting cards with
sayings from author Jack Kerouac. It also has New Age items, such as
wishing pyramids and Buddha dolls. The store has also sold handmade
clothing, such as tie-dyed shirts and crocheted bikinis.

The Joyful Alternative was started by eight friends in the heyday of
the hippie movement.

The founders said their goal was to create a store that provided
books, music, clothing and crafts that weren't being sold in
mainstream stores. The store carried some drug-related products, such
as rolling paper and roach clips, but the founders cringed at being
called a "head shop" for marijuana smokers.

Joyful Alternative co-founder Dale Alan Bailes said he encountered
beatniks while living in San Francisco in the 1960s. A University of
South Carolina graduate, Bailes said he wanted to bring the culture to

"I think what happened with our store and happened in the '60s was
part of a wave of change," said Bailes, 62, who now lives in
California. "We were just riding that wave."

Tommy Love, a former night watchman for the Joyful Alternative, said
the store provided a place that welcomed everyone. People frequently
stopped by just to talk or play music, he said.

Love, 57, now works as a records manager for the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention in Atlanta, but was in Columbia to play guitar
at Saturday's reunion.

The store's closing "is really too bad," Love said. "But there will
always be this community here -- if not at the Joyful Alternative,
somewhere else."

Leilani Guskjolen, 22 and a current employee, said she was probably
going to cry when the store closed.

Its message of a more peaceful and less materialistic society is
needed today, Guskjolen said. People keep buying bigger cars and
houses that waste resources, she said.

Guskjolen, originally from Minnesota, ended up in Columbia because her
station wagon "pooped out" while she was visiting a nearby renaissance

The store's culture is "more relevant than it was back then because
people are getting further away from it," she said.

The founders, though, seemed unfazed by the store's

Donald T. and Pam McMahon, both 57, helped start the Joyful
Alternative shortly after Donald returned from Vietnam.

Even when the store closes, the Joyful Alternative's spirit will live
on, they said. "We don't get into things like 'good' or 'bad,'" Pam
McMahon said. "It's time."

Howell, the only founder still with the store, said the slumping
economy and competitive retail market was forcing her to close. The
crowded shop on Saturday was a rare sight, she said.

Howell plans to take computer classes and relaunch the Joyful
Alternative through a Web site.

After 33 years, though, she said it will take time to get used to not
running the shop. "I'll probably have to come down here every once in
a while and sweep the sidewalk or pick up a broken beer bottle in
front of someone else's store," Howell said.
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