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In a matter of months the funky blue exterior of Boundary Street's old Greyhound bus station will be made over with fresh stucco. '
Its rows of sculpted orange seats and the aging candy machine will be replaced with camping gear and bicycles as the bus station makes way for an outdoor equipment store. The store, called Higher Ground, is scheduled to open next April.'
Standing behind the large, cloudy Plexiglas window where tickets are sold, station Manager John Rials said Wednesday he has no idea where Greyhound will go. '
"They told us we have to try to be out of here Dec. 1," Rails said. "I think it's going to be one of those things where we're going to get a phone call and be out of here in a week."'
The Greyhound corporate executives in Dallas, Texas, are responsible for the moving details, Rails said. Most of the station is packed up and ready to go, the office space bare save for a few cabinets and large cardboard boxes. '
Rails said Greyhound is working with Realtors to negotiate the best spot for the station.'
Later Wednesday afternoon, Rails' one Beaufort employee, Curtis Eldred, was manning the station counter. Eldred began working for Greyhound 44 years ago, when the local station was on Scott Street. The Boundary Street structure was built by Coastal Contractors in the 1960s, he said.'
"The first bus that came in after the building was built was Sept. 12, 1962," Eldred said. "(It) was what we called a scenic cruiser." '
Scenic cruisers, Eldred explained, were double-decker buses with only 35 to 38 seats. Passengers would wait for days to take a trip on a scenic cruiser rather than a normal bus.'
"We have 55-seaters now, air-ride and all that stuff," he said.'
Wherever the bus station ends up, Eldred expects it will be within the city limits.'
Rails said the station, which sends out nine buses each day with a total of about 75 passengers, may benefit from the move. "When it originated here, it was great -- it was downtown, it was where we needed to be." Now, he said, Boundary Street may have become too busy for the station.'
Shelby Bishop and Ashley Dougherty will be the pair converting the bus station, owned by real estate redeveloper and County Councilman Dick Stewart, into a store for outdoor enthusiasts. The building will be redone in a cottage-like style, Dougherty said Wednesday. There will be kayaks, water gear, camping gear, technical clothing and shoes for sale, as well as rental bikes.'
Bishop and Dougherty also hope to erect a 35-foot climbing wall behind the station.'
"We don't know what's going to happen with that," Dougherty said. But, she said, "We're really positive and we're really excited."