The city of Charleston is lauded and applauded for a number of industries, events and scenes. These aspects, some of which include the city’s delectable and decadent culinary offerings, headlining acts and a bustling live music scene, unmatched southern hospitality and a goldmine of historical treasures to explore, are the reasons why Charleston has been named a top U.S. city more than a few times.
There is also another ever-growing entity within the Holy City: a vivacious and extremely diverse shopping scene. Charleston offers a broad selection of goods and wares ranging from native designers to international luxury brands. Visitors from all over the world can bring home a unique souvenir of any size made by one of the city’s uber-talented artists or makers that will remind them of Charleston for years to come.
With so many new shops popping up all over town, Charleston continues to reign as a top southern shopping destination. From sculptures to suits to sweetgrass baskets, there is truly something for everyone within the Charleston shopping scene.
Additionally, the numerous storefronts and window displays make for an eye-catching and vibrant stroll through the city. Whether you are planning a move or renting a vacation property for a long weekend or extended stay, there is certainly no shortage of places to shop ‘til you drop. Here are the best spots to shop in Charleston, SC, both downtown and off the peninsula.
If you’re in town for a visit, shopping is a must on your itinerary. You’ll want to allot some time for perusing the city’s retail offerings, even if you don’t intend to buy anything. Who knows? You might even end up shopping for a second home or investment property while you’re here. Either way, it’s a good idea to start your shopping spree in downtown Charleston, where many stores are located within walking distance from each other. From King Street to the Charleston City Market, here are the best spots to shop in downtown Charleston.
1. Lower King Street
This classic strip of shops is jam-packed with everything from small businesses to international brands. The unique juxtaposition of these stores makes the Lower King Street shopping experience a fun time for the entire family. Park your car at a nearby lot or metered spot and get to walking in either direction!
Lower King is full of big-name stores like Urban Outfitters, H&M, Lululemon, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, J. Crew, Williams Sonoma, Vans, Apple and more. These larger brands occupy the bigger storefronts and offer a more metropolitan shopping experience for those looking for convenience or who are coming from smaller cities and towns.
Within this section of King Street also lies The Shops at Belmond Charleston Place, a snazzy hotel worth a walk-through in itself. On a hot Charleston summer day, this indoor shopping section is a cool escape from the high outdoor temperatures. Within The Shops at Belmond Place are high-end names like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, accompanied by others like Kate Spade, Tommy Bahama, Anne Fontaine, Pandora, Sperry and others. It’s the perfect place to splurge on something special.
Between the international names and brands on King Street are some of the city’s most beloved and well-kept secrets. The Lower King Street boutiques and small businesses offer a little something for everyone.
For the ladies, be sure to make stops at Earthbound Trading Co., Fresh Produce, Lori Lulu, Spartina 449, Croghan’s Jewel Box, Hampden and Shoes on King. While some of these spots offer men’s options as well, guys clothing and accessories are the main event at Grady Ervin & Company, M. Dumas and Sons, The Art of Shaving, Billy Reid and Berlin’s for Men. You can also dress your kiddos to the nines in southern style at Under the Almond Trees, Pink Chicken and Kids on King.
If you’ve got the time, be sure to peruse the side streets crossing King Street as well. Here you will find hidden gems like family-run boutiques, coffee shops and cafes, bars and other treasures.
2. Upper King Street
As the city has grown and evolved over the past ten or so years, Upper King Street has become a coveted destination for restaurants, bars, retail space and many other businesses. There is just something about the up-and-coming vibe of this area that makes it that much more interesting. Parking on Upper King Street is a little bit easier to come by, as there are more metered spots and larger garages nearby. Once you’re on foot, you’ll be able to truly experience what this area has to offer.
Much like the south side of King Street, Upper King Street is dotted with well-known names like West Elm and Free People. However, you’ll also find a few locally owned women’s boutiques definitely worth a stop. Something About Me, Style Exchange, Las Olas and Ensemble Consignment all offer fantastic clothing and accessories at a range of price points.
If you’re tired of clothes shopping, check out Blue Bicycle Books and Record Stop for tunes and reads. If you’re searching for homewares or standout furniture, be sure to check out Amanda Lindroth Collection and Mitchell Hill for design inspiration.
What would a shopping day be without a little treat? If you’re in need of a drink or snack, stop by one of Upper King Street’s many cocktail bars or kitchens for a pick-me-up. Between Benny Ravello’s, Glazed Doughnuts, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Playa Bowls and Kudu Coffee, there’s sure to be something for everyone to enjoy. To satisfy your other cravings, head over to CBD Social or Charleston Hemp Collective for a lesson in CBD’s many benefits and an impressive lineup of products.
3. Charleston City Market
Commonly known as the cultural heart of the city, Charleston City Market has been operating in Historic Charleston, SC since 1807. The shopping center is made up of over 300 vendors in a mostly open-air walk-through facility lining the middle of bustling Market Street. You can find a host of restaurants, shops, hotels and horse-drawn carriage tours nearby, giving Charleston City Market a true Downtown Charleston feel.
As one of the nation’s oldest public markets, Charleston City Market has built a reputation for having some of the finest handmade goods around. Once you enter the Greek-Revival-Style hall of the market, you are presented with the products, crafts and wares of designers and businesses from near and far.
You might consider taking home a piece of Gullah art, a hand-rolled cigar, an oyster Christmas ornament, a personalized baby gift or even a handmade piece of jewelry. The wide array of other offerings include handcrafted perfumes, beauty products, clothing, accessories, snacks, books, novelties, leather goods, candles, prints and so much more.
Perhaps the most iconic items for sale at Charleston City Market are the handmade sweetgrass baskets. One of the nation’s oldest and most treasured handicrafts of African Descent, sweetgrass basketry is a truly unique tradition kept alive by the Gullah community in Charleston. Talented basket craftsmen harvest local marshgrass and weave their creations using techniques passed down from generation to generation.
The very best sweetgrass baskets are made and sold at Charleston City Market and fit in with just about any home design style. They also make a unique and thoughtful gift for any occasion. Be sure to look through the extensive offerings of sweetgrass baskets throughout the market and talk to the talented and knowledgeable basket craftspeople about this special time-honored tradition.
The Charleston City Market is open every day of the year except December 25th. You can walk through and shop the many vendors during the day or take a look at the new and exciting night market on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6-10:30 p.m. Don’t miss this traditional Charleston shopping experience.
The Local Experience
Downtown Charleston is full of shopping options for any taste, style or preference. Some of the most special items are made by local designers, artists and craftspeople, which is what makes a Downtown Charleston shopping trip so special. However, some local sellers focus solely on eCommerce or have storefronts located off the beaten path.
If you’re looking for a truly special Charleston item, you’ll want to check out Taxidermy, Boysterous Couture, Suited Ltd., Troubadour and more. Some of these have brick and mortar locations near the stylish Wagener Terrace neighborhood which is filled with restaurants, coffee shops and even more of Charleston’s lively culture.
Shopping off the Peninsula
While the King Street and City Market areas boast some big names and talented artists and designers, some of Charleston’s best shopping is located outside of downtown. Whether you choose to travel east or west of downtown, here are a few more places to add to your Charleston shopping list.
4. Mount Pleasant
Just a hop, skip and jump — or drive — across the Ravenel Bridge will place you in beautiful Mount Pleasant, a town popular for waterfront dining, stunning real estate and, of course, shopping. For an all-inclusive shopping experience in Mount Pleasant, make your way to the Towne Centre. Here you’ll find convenient shopping options like Bed Bath & Beyond, Ulta, Barnes & Noble, Old Navy and Belk.
In addition to these larger stores, be sure to make stops at stylish boutiques like Vestique, Las Olas, Lizard Thicket Boutique and others. Towne Centre also offers an array of dining options at most any price point for when a quick shopping trip turns into an all-day affair. Stick around for happy hour at SAVI and a flick at the Regal Palmetto Grande Cinema!
Mount Pleasant has got you covered when it comes to anything home-decor-related. From stylish furnishings to outdoor accoutrements and everything in between, you’re sure to find what you need within Mount Pleasant’s extensive lists of home stores.
In addition to staples like Home Goods and Target, Mount Pleasant is an epicenter for funky home shopping. Check out Celadon, Nadeau, GDC, Steven Shell, Bibelot Home and the Mount Pleasant Mall, which features booths and sections from an array of vendors. For all things outdoors, head to Abide A While, where you can find plants, garden decor, handcrafted pillows and more.
No matter what you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find it — or something even better — within Mount Pleasant. Shop, sip, dine and stay a while!
5. Tanger Outlets
Attention all savings-savvy shoppers and deal seekers: You’ll find all the best deals in one place at the Tanger Outlets in North Charleston. While it’s still totally worth it to explore all the downtown and Mount Pleasant options, you can’t beat these outlet deals. The Charleston Tanger Outlets are filled with gems like Saks Off Fifth, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Palmetto Moon, Steve Madden, Tory Burch and so much more. Don’t forget to leave some extra room in your suitcase.
A Shopping City
If your list of Charleston shopping stops just got exponentially longer, it might be time to look at Charleston, SC rentals for a proper shopping trip in order to experience it all. Shopping your way through Charleston is a great way to build a vacation itinerary and explore different areas and neighborhoods, view the city’s wonderful architecture and take a walking tour of some of the city’s most popular streets and sights.