By: Malcolm Mayhew
Antebellum mansions laze behind Spanish-mossed oak trees, catching sea breezes in the shade of their side porches. Wrought-iron gates lead into secret gardens, heady with the scent of gardenias. A low-slung skyline gives the city a certain sun-flooded brilliance, which saturates its brick pathways and sherbet facades with vivid color. A mix of heirloom character and modern panache make Charleston appealing to travelers and a fantastic place to shop.
Laid-back yet sophisticated, the city’s boutiques offer an eclectic array of vintage finds, contemporary pieces, and local handicrafts. Artisans flock to the area, drawn by its storied romance – and their creations are for sale everywhere: metal sculptures, glass art, pottery, and woodwork.
Many shoppers start at the City Market, a former fish and produce market-turned tourist haven. You can discover a few treasures amongst the kitschy Southern souvenirs and saltwater taffy, including hand-coiled baskets made with sweetgrass, pine needles, and palmetto fronds.
But for one-of-a-kind furnishings and décor, head to the shop-lined strip of King Street, East Bay Street, and the quaint boutiques of suburban Mount Pleasant. Seek out the perfect pieces to give your home a taste of Charleston’s chic, modern-vintage vibe.
Fair warning: You might be inspired to redecorate your entire home after a visit to Celadon. Brimming with unique home furnishings, this store has a fervent local following. The store is best known for its handmade, solid wood furniture, much of which is crafted with eco-friendly, reclaimed materials. You’ll also find an uncommon collection of exotic treasures, Gullah folk crafts, and rustic-industrial décor. Every corner is filled with something new: carved pine sideboards, white mohair poufs, brass lassi cups, eye-catching Turkish rugs. Some prices are on the high side, but there are also many deals to be found. Allow plenty of time for your visit; the store is much bigger than it looks from the outside. Don’t miss the dreamy jewelry case. For major deals, the Celadon Outlet, located in North Charleston and open to the public Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, is a 12,000-square-foot space filled with deals on overstocked and imperfect goods.
1015 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
2. Indigo Market
Shop a diverse selection of retro furniture, unusual accent pieces, and one-of-a-kind creations by regional artists at this locally owned store. Mid-century bar carts mingle with cool abstract pottery, chrome dining sets, and seagrass pillows. Browse original art pieces, from splashy watercolor paintings to hand-drawn maps of Charleston in repurposed wooden frames. The store also offers on-site lacquering; just find your piece of furniture and choose the paint color you want.
1092 Morrison Drive
Charleston, SC 29403
3. The Hidden Countship
Discover a little slice of the Old World in South Carolina at this Italian artisan boutique. Owners Donatella and Giulio della Porta traipse through the Old Country several times each year, hauling back treasures made by hand using centuries-old traditions. Shop for exquisitely painted dinner plates, Tuscan alabaster bowls, and olivewood kitchenware carved in the Umbrian countryside. You can also pick up a stunning fresco in a gold-leafed frame, colored with organic pigments on top of fresh plaster. Each work of art replicates an existing Italian fresco originally created by an Ancient Roman or Renaissance artist.
21 Burns Lane
Charleston, SC 29401
4. David Skinner Antiques
Charleston’s historic ties to the Caribbean and East Indies are on full display in this antique store, which is located in the Lower King Street district – a go-to neighborhood for vintage collectors. Hand-carved bookcases from Barbados. Four-posted, mahogany beds from Jamaica. Apothecary cabinets from India. Peruse an incredible selection of period lighting pieces, including coupled candelabras and swanky crystal chandeliers. Spanning the globe, this shop’s extensive collection also includes European mirrors, classical oil paintings, and garden urns boasting a rich patina of time.
125 King St.
Charleston, SC 29401
5. GDC Home
Prefer a large-scale experience instead of poking around in a boutique? Check out GDC, Charleston’s home décor emporium. Opened by three friends in 1978 to sell upholstery fabric seconds, the shop has blossomed into one of the city’s top destinations for furniture and accessories. Browse 45,000 square feet of space in the flagship showroom, which is flush with breezy patio pieces, hand-knotted rugs, and unexpected accent pieces from China and Indonesia. Staying true to its roots, GDC also offers thousands of fabric samples for use in custom designs.
1290 Sam Rittenberg Drive
Charleston, SC 29407
By: Malcolm Mayhew