Don McCallister

UofSC alums help keep 5 Points alive

Don McCallister writes, operates publishing imprint “behind the curtain” at Loose Lucy’s

If you think Five Points is only a college bar district, think again.

The village down the hill has drawn South Carolina students for more than a century, and not simply to celebrate. And for many who settle in the Capital City after graduation, Five Points remains an integral part of their lives.

“It’s an amazingly unique neighborhood, and everybody’s a regular,” says Kelsey Hennighan, executive director of the Five Points Association. “If you come down any given afternoon for lunch, or Sunday for brunch, or even for an early dinner, you see people outside eating, talking, you see people with their dogs — we’re probably the most dog-friendly neighborhood in town.”

Hennighan would know. As director, she coordinates the district’s economic development, beautification and safety efforts — not to mention the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. But she also knows the scene, having worked as a hostess at Saluda’s as an undergrad before taking a PR job at Spirit Communications.

“When I applied for the director position, I kind of came full circle,” she says.

Carolinian caught up with five alumni who, like Hennighan, can’t shake Five Points from their system.

Don McCallister — Loose Lucy’s

For some, Five Points is almost a way of life. Take Don McCallister, co-owner of Loose Lucy’s, the self-described “Mom & Pop Hippie Shop” at the south end of the Saluda Avenue retail strip.

McCallister and his wife, Jenn, didn’t start the business, which opened back in 1992, when the Grateful Dead were enjoying a resurgence on college campuses. But when the original owners decided to sell in 1997, the McCallisters jumped. Jenn was already the store’s manager, and Don, a film archivist at the university, was aching to break free from the 9 to 5 and pursue his dream of being a writer.

“That’s not blaming the USC job,” says McCallister, a media arts graduate who spent a decade with the university’s News Film Library (now part of the Moving Image Research Collections). “Just, for whatever reason, I couldn’t hold down a job like that then come home and write. Some people can.”

I did not anticipate becoming a business owner — I had other plans — but you never know what’s going to happen. And Five Points is clearly in my blood, there’s no question.

Don McCallister

His vision? Help run the business and meanwhile crank out a novel or two, write a few magazine pieces, practice his craft. But tie-dyes and tapestries don’t sell themselves.

“What I didn’t know was how becoming a successful business owner would really consume my life for several years,” McCallister says, giggling at his own success. “It was a couple of years later that I really got my butt in the chair, as writers will sometimes say.”

In time, vocation and avocation came together like some kind of cosmic mandala. Waves of interest in the Grateful Dead have kept the customers coming for 27 years, but now that he’s found his groove, McCallister is riding it. He even launched his own publishing imprint, Mind Harvest Press, which he operates from “behind the curtain” at Loose Lucy’s.

“I’ve been down here behind the counter of the hippie T-shirt shop, on a laptop at a little wooden TV tray banging away on a novel, banging away on a magazine piece or whatever I’ve been working on,” he says. “It’s all happening right here in Five Points!”

And for McCallister, Five Points has been “happening” for half a century. One of his earliest memories is climbing around as a boy in the fishing boats parked outside the old Harden Street Sears, which until the mid-1970s occupied the address now home to Office Depot. His first night on campus freshman year, back in 1983, he marched down to the Food Lion for groceries.

“That’s how far back my Five Points memories go,” says the onetime media arts major. “I did not anticipate becoming a business owner — I had other plans — but you never know what’s going to happen. And Five Points is clearly in my blood, there’s no question."

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