"We use the best soaps, solvents and equipment available to the industry. We do not take short cuts," Tripp Penninger told Columbia Metropolitan in 2011, one year after the magazine's readers voted Tripp's Fine Cleaners as the best dry cleaners in Columbia. Grandson of the couple that founded the business in 1987, Tripp and his staff of nearly 100 employees have earned their prestige; as Sanitone-certified master dry cleaners, they've carefully cleaned thousands of garments and have been trusted with preserving the wedding gowns of brides in South Carolina and beyond.
They clean regular laundry with low-temperature water, ensuring that nothing shrinks or becomes misshapen, and they use special procedures for high-end garments, making sure to wine and dine Chanel suits before removing wine or dinner stains. Tripp’s seamstresses are on hand to remedy ill-fitting garments, usually returning alterations in about three days. The staff picks up and drops off items free of charge in specified areas and offers complimentary seasonal storage with the purchase of cleaning.
When Redic Earl Robinson started making house calls in 1919, he visited his customers by bicycle. Each family knew him as "Mister Ed," and they bundled their laundry for him to take back to the shop on Gervais Street. Meanwhile, Myrtle Beckham Robinson, Mister Ed's wife, warmed an iron with a coal-fire stove as she awaited the shipment. Together, they soaked the garments in buckets and worked stains out on scrub boards.
Today, Redic Earl Robinson Jr. carries on the family tradition with modern equipment. Twice weekly, his team travels by motorized horse to pick up laundry and make deliveries. They utilize custom cleaning solutions for specific fabrics and offer specialty services for leather, suede, quilts, and comforters. In addition to stain removal, Ed Robinson Cleaners offers alteration services at its 2551 Forest Dr. location.
Nestled within Columbia's historical Shandon neighborhood, Pupcakes Pet Boutique invites passersby and their four-legged friends to admire the designer dog-wear, stylish carriers and beds, and handy accessories in the homey, family-run shop. Throughout the store, Prada, the assistant manager and resident silky terrier, performs quality-control tests on toys, greets visitors with begs for belly rubs, and reviews payroll time sheets. The scent of daily baked treats tickles the olfactory lobes of discerning doggie patrons, and the sight of pooches dressed in cute vests and comforting Thundershirts reduces human speech to adoring coos and baby talk.
A nonprofit organization designed to promote and improve the lively Columbia neighborhood, the Five Points Association has spearheaded many projects since the early 1980s, ranging from a large-scale streetscaping project to the construction of two fountains to yearly beautification updates. The group also organizes events to bring people to the landmark district—notably the Five After Five concert series and the city's Saint Patrick's Day festivities. Overall, the association, which comprises more than 100 members each year, works to balance the interests of the Five Points' merchants with those of residents and visitors.
The certified specialists at Wild Birds Unlimited open up an encyclopedia of avian-spotting opportunities in local forest preserves and backyards alike with a stock of bird-watching and bird-feeding accessories that promotes the appreciation and conservation of wildlife. They’ve accumulated more than 30 years’ worth of research and experience, culminating in an impressive array of high-quality birding supplies, some of which boast a lifetime guarantee. The specialists cull regional blends of bird feed that consist of 100% edible seed that’s safe for backyard birds. In addition to vending bird food, bird feeders, birdbaths, and powerful optics equipment, the company disseminates helpful information online about bird feeding, migration, and current top 40 bird song charts.
The staff members at Seven Oaks Animal Hospital aren’t just trained professionals—they’re pet owners themselves. Because of this, they dote on each four-legged patient as if it were their own, whether they are administering shots, grooming nails and ears, or reminiscing about the days when gentlemen wore collars. Of course, Seven Oaks is a go-to destination for more serious pet health problems as well. The hospital's veterinarians and assistants perform blood tests and ultrasounds to diagnose diseases, and if necessary they operate using patient-specific anesthesia protocols. They even run behavioral-counseling sessions for puppies and for adult dogs exhibiting abnormal tendencies.