The Charleston Guide
Over the course of three centuries, Charleston—one of the oldest, most storied cities in America—has developed a rich culture shaped by a number of historic events (the Civil War commenced at Fort Sumter, for one) and distinct geographic elements (the city is flanked by two rivers and a beautiful harbor on the Southern tip). And due to its compact size, you’ll inevitably stumble on significant sites and the picturesque Charleston single houses, with their piazzas and lace-like facades, simply by taking a post-dinner walk. What’s more, many of the newer restaurants, bars, and shops are housed in old buildings that have been beautifully converted to accommodate modern-day needs—though they still retain the old-world charm that makes Charleston so unforgettable.
Hampden Clothing314 King St., King Street | 843.724.6373
Neatly organized by designer, Hampden Clothing is one of the most fashion-forward shops in Charleston, with collections from goop favorites like 3.1 Phillip Lim, Carven, Ulla Johnson, Stella McCartney, and Co. Hampden also has plenty of couches (should you need a bit of a break from shopping) and a stocked bar (should you need a drink). In addition to all that, attached to Hampden is their fabulously curated handbag/shoe/accessory shop, called James. (Stacy Smallwood, the owner, named both stores after her great grandfather, James Hampden Small.)
Croghan’s Jewel Box308 King St., King Street | 843.723.3594
Backed by over 100 years of occupying the same King Street storefront, Croghan’s is not only the oldest fine jewelry store in the area, it’s also one of the most well-appointed. The glass display cases house a dizzying array of new and antique jewelry and the shelves lining the perimeter of the selling floor are packed to the rafters with silver and crystal collectibles and decorative pieces. The estate engagement ring offering is particularly impressive—and really fun to play with.
The Commons701 E. Bay St., The French Quarter
Tucked away in a courtyard with a ½ address, you’ll walk right by this cozy home shop if you’re not looking for it. The brick-and-mortar outpost, as well as its gorgeous online presence, is owned and managed by bicoastal friends Erin Connelly, of Charleston, and Kerry Clark Speake, of Seattle. All of the home goods in their stores, from heirloom wooden salad bowls, to hand-knotted door jams, to delicate porcelain plates, are made in the United States.
Billy Reid150 King St., Harleston Village | 843.577.3004
Billy Reid is a distinctly Southern designer, seamlessly working traditionally preppy elements (pastels, seersucker, lots of khaki and linen) into elegant, streamlined, and sometimes vintage-inspired silhouettes. His Charleston shop is divided into two departments: one for the men’s line, complete with a healthy bowtie selection, and one for the women’s collection of shift dresses, neutral knits, and chambray separates. Merchandised right into the displays are a number of giftables like stationery, art books, and knickknacks for the home.
George C. Birlant Antiques191 King St., Lower King Street | 843.722.3842
It’s no surprise that a history-rich town like Charleston has long been a destination for treasure hunters. Taking up the ground floor of the historic Enston Building, this decades-old showroom is home to a vast collection of antique and vintage furniture, home décor, lighting, crystal, and silver—sourced locally and from estate sales all over the world and organized into neat, stroll-able aisles.
Blue Bicycle Books420 King St., Upper King Street | 843.722.2666
The very picture of a beloved neighborhood bookstore, Blue Bicycle houses a blessedly easy-to-navigate collection of new and pre-loved books spanning all genres—in addition to every single title devoted to the city of Charleston itself. The on-site event space plays host to countless author signings and talks throughout the year, while for the past 14 summers (and counting), the owners have organized a kid's writing camp to nurture little ones’ composition skills and appreciation for the written word.
Indigo & Cotton79 Cannon St., Radcliffeborough | 843.718.2980
Set up like a cool, rustic bachelor pad rather than a standard men’s store, Brett Carron’s five-year-old shop is devoted almost exclusively to U.S.-made clothing and accessories. As the name suggests, a lot of attention is paid to jeans, the majority of which are made of selvedge denim in limited runs. The rest of the buy is equally thoughtful: shirting from Gitman Brothers Vintage, watches from Shinola, and Billykirk leather accessories.
John Pope Antiques180 King St., Lower King Street | 843.793.4277
John Pope graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a degree in historic preservation (which we can only imagine to be CSI for gorgeous antiques), and his unique combination of good taste and sophisticated education makes his collection one of Charleston’s best. His King Street store is full of gems, from ceramic lamps to vintage frames, chandeliers, and taxidermy peacocks.
Library1630-1 Meeting Street Rd., North Charleston | 843.410.9944
Lauren Lail first opened her shop as a vintage boutique, selling finds she scrounged from small Southern towns around Charleston. Now, locals head there to shop her eponymous (and fittingly vintage-inspired) clothing line—which offers refreshingly modern takes on Southern classics like pastel dresses, printed shorts, and silk tops. It’s the perfect nobody-else-will-have-it kind of souvenir.
Mac & Murphy74 1/2 Cannon St., Cannonborough | 843.576.4394
This cards and paper goods shop may be tiny, but you’ll easily spend an hour in here reading all of the cute (and often hilarious) cards on the shelves. For design geeks, there is also a bright section filled with boutique wrapping paper, and great wedding invitations for brides-to-be.
Worthwhile268 King St., King Street | 843.723.4418
A King Street staple for more than twenty years, Worthwhile is located in the old McIntosh Seed House, which is an old general store. It’s hard to make generalizations about the buy here since it’s simultaneously eclectic and very intentional; you’ll find everything from Elder Statesmen and Isabel Marant to quirky local lines, plus a very cool selection of home goods and beauty products displayed on stunning wood built-in shelving–including our very own goop fragrance. Great news: If you aren’t heading to Charleston anytime soon, they have a great online shop.