Photo of long-closed original downtown store taken on opposite corner of Main & Blanding.
Tapp's was a very distinctive store downtown, featuring a very early streamlined modern design completed in 1940. That building was the second built since the store was first founded in 1903. The downtown store was the first east of the Mississippi to offer an air-conditioned shopping experience, and a restaurant was included in the basement level . In 1952, two additional stories were added to the downtown store . This store still stands today at the intersection of Main St and Blanding St, and is the one pictured here. More on the history of Tapp's [link].
Close-up of upper floors and logo. Was this same logo used on the suburban stores or was this older? For such a simple structure, it is elegant and classy.
Tapp's was very interesting in that its first ever store was not in South Carolina at all, but as actually in Dalton, GA in 1890. However, it was sold before 1900 . Another store was operated in Charlotte in the mean time before coming to Columbia.  Fast forward to the late 20th century, Tapp's suburban expansion was somewhat haphazard. It was first introduced outside of downtown at Trenholm Plaza in 1965. This is east of downtown in the more affluent area near present-day Richland Mall at the intersection of Forest Dr (SC 12) & Trenholm Rd. Following that was the opening at Columbia's first enclosed shopping mall, Dutch Square, in 1970 as the mall's east anchor. The last location to open in Columbia came in 1978 with the opening of a store at Woodhill Mall, a tiny mall also anchored by Richway. All of Tapp's suburban stores were small one-level stores that were considerably smaller than the downtown flagship. While that brought the chain to four total locations, the store would not expand again in Columbia past the late 1970's. However, a store would open in 1986 at Jessamine Mall (now Sumter Mall) in the location of the former Capitol Department Store.  It would be their last new store. In the article, James Tapp was quoted as "We have been competitive from the beginning. When we cease being competitive, we cease to exist". 
Street-level entrance and surrounding black tiles do not disappoint. Is this building well-maintained or just well-preserved? It looks almost like new.
Part of an ad announcing the opening of Tapp's last new store in Sumter, 1986. The rest of the ad suggests the store was far less upscale than I originally thought. The ad included Arrow shirts, Lee jeans, Izod and...Jams (yes that is LOL worthy).
Tapp's maintained its position on the Columbia retail scene for over 90 years, but the store was unable to compete with the glut of much larger new chain department stores in the city catering to a somewhat upscale demographic such as Dillard's and Birmingham, AL-based Parisian. In September 1995, Tapp's announced it was ending business. Unfortunately, its closure left a void on the city with the downtown store remaining vacant to this day. Two suburban locations have since been torn down including the Dutch Square location and the store at Woodhill Mall. The Dutch Square location was rebuilt as an AMC theater and Woodhill Mall was demolished in 2004 to make way for a regular strip mall. The Trenholm Plaza location looks to have been since repurposed.
 Tapp's Department Store - 1644 Main St. Live Columbia [Blog]. 18 August 2008.
 New Tapp's Store first outside of Columbia area. The Sumter Daily Item. 26 February 1986. Page 1B.