The Holy City may be known for the many church steeples that grace its landscape. Yet it’s also a mecca for shoppers as much as it is for history and food buffs. Luckily, you don’t even need to stray too far from Downtown Charleston to find unique souvenirs and gifts. There’s also plenty of fashion for every budget and taste — so you’ll probably be able to find something you’ll be able to enjoy even before you head back home.
This list is organized by the distance from the city center. If you don’t have access to a car, the Charleston City Market, King Street and the Shops at Belmond offer miles of shopping — right in the heart of Charleston. If you’re heading over to Mount Pleasant or Patriots Point during your trip, be sure to a stop at the Old Village for locally owned boutiques.
Or, if you’re driving, head to the Tanger Outlets (a little further away in North Charleston) for even more high-end retail — at a fraction of the store prices.
Charleston City Market
You don’t need to travel far to find some of the most authentic gifts and souvenirs in Charleston. In fact, the historic Charleston City Market has a huge selection of gifts, home goods and crafts — all in a historic setting.
This toy store specializes in hard-to-find gifts for kids. You’re just as likely to find a snuggly stuffed animal for baby as you would a scooter for your toddler here. From books to gadgets to toys, Wonder Works is a kid’s wonderland.
Throughout the market, you’ll find Charleston’s famous sweetgrass baskets. These baskets are a part of Charleston’s culture, and their history goes back over 300 years. These Gullah baskets have been made by women in Charleston for centuries and originated in West Africa. If you want to share a piece of Charleston history with your friends and family back home, this is the place to start.
You’ll also find tons of home goods, art and crafts stores in the Charleston City Market. These stores sell goods that range from furniture to candles to textiles. We like Refunked because their goods show a ton of South Carolina pride. Owners Tamm and Matt Varn use reclaimed, salvaged and recycled materials to make unique pieces of art that make great gifts.
High-End Retail in Historic Setting
If you’re looking more for a gift for yourself than a souvenir for friends and family, King Street offers over 10 blocks of retail in a charming setting. Here, you’re just as likely to find a small boutique as you are midrange and high-end commercial retail. Some of our favorite stores include:
This high-end women’s clothing store is a South Carolina favorite. Here you’ll find fashion-forward designers, such as Stella McCartney and Phillip Lim. They also specialize in shoes, handbags and accessories. There’s even a bar inside. Because shopping can really work up a thirst.
Why should women get all the fun? M. Dumas & Sons has been selling high-end men’s clothing since 1917. Lowcountry gentlemen know that the key to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but the key to a woman’s? A well-dressed man. Everything you need to be just as dapper as a Charlestonian can be found here.
The Shops at Belmond
Best High-End Shopping Mall
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Sometimes you just need to get thee to a mall to get thy shopping done. The Shops at Belmond Charleston Place feature high-end stores, such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Tommy Bahama. Located in the Belmond Charleston Place, a 17th-century hotel that’s as high end as the shops it houses, the mall is a great place to escape the Charleston sun and surround yourself in luxury for a few hours. When you need a break, head to Meeting at the Market for a cocktail and a snack.
Mount Pleasant Old Village
Facebook post: Ooh Events and Out of Hand
If you’re heading across the Ravenel Bridge, you might want to stop in Mount Pleasant Old Village — even if you’ve already dropped from shopping. This historic neighborhood features some of the quaintest shops and ephemera on Pitt Street — including an old pharmacy and soda fountain that’s the perfect place to take a break from all your browsing.
When you’re ready to start hitting the racks again, we recommend:
Sometimes the best finds aren’t at the huge chain stores. Butterfly Consignments carries all your favorite high-end brands at a fraction of the tag price. Their clothes are all “gently worn,” which means they’ll still feel new to you.
This shabby chic clothing and accessory store is a favorite of Charlestonians and visitors alike. In addition to their clothing, they also have a decent selection of home goods and nicknacks that make great souvenirs.
Major Hats & Suits
Wearing fancy hats to events is — well, old hat — for Charlestonians. If you want to look as fancy as you feel, head to Major Hats & Suits for some of the most stylish Sunday Best accessories.
Serious shoppers — you know who you are — just skip to the Tanger Outlets. While this outlet mall is a little further from downtown than the rest of the shops on this list, it’s worth it. You can snag this year’s fashions at a fraction of the cost — usually 30 percent off the retail price just for buying it at the outlet.
One of the best parts of the outlets? The mall is mostly outside, so you won’t be missing out on any of that gorgeous South Carolina sun while you’re there.
Family owned and operated from the beginning, Walks of Charleston is passionate about the history, architecture and culture of Charleston and is dedicated to sharing it with you for a memorable experience on every tour.
“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time”
– Steven Wright