Charleston began in the early 1700s as a port city, and it has remained a thriving place to buy goods every since. Any shopper will be pleased with the selection of upscale stores in the heart of downtown, antique shops and jewelry boutiques on King Street, and eclectic and one-of-a-kind stores in Old Market Place that make up the shopping scene in this city.
The best things to buy in Charleston are connected to its history. They range from actual antiques to art to souvenirs that depict historical scenes, such as Rainbow Row, found at area museum shops. It may sound cliche, but the best bargains and the best selections remain down in the stalls of the Old City Market (Market Street at Church). One special item you'll find down there is the South Carolina state flag depicting the Palmetto tree and a crescent moon on everything from coffee mugs to flip-flops to T-shirts. You won't find these special items outside of the state.
Insider's Guide: The Best of Shopping in Charleston
For a wide selection of upscale stores, visit the Shops at Charleston Place and the Riviera (130 Market St). Numerous world-class famous stores like Chico's, Tommy Bahama, Gucci, and more can be found here, an ideal place for serious shoppers with chic and designer labels in mind.
Old Market Place (near Market Place at Church St in the heart of downtown) features a good variety of one-of-a-kind shops and quality boutiques that will keep you wanting to hunt for that special something. Miostile (346 King St) has cutting-edge clothing from Ya-Ya and Rachel Pally. Market Street Munchies (1722 Ashley River Rd) has gift baskets filled with Low County condiments, Southern beverages, and popcorn that can be a specialized treat for yourself or someone special in your life. Gullah Gourmet (95 Tall Oak St) has 30 food products, aprons, and T-shirts celebrating the culture created by former slaves in this region.
For creatively fashionable handbags, visit Moo Roo Handbags (316 King St). They have styles for all preferences, including leather, stain, wool tweed, and flowers.
If you're looking for antiques, try George C. Birlant and Co (191 King St) for every type of antique imaginable. Otherwise, it's best to get away from the Historic District where prices are sometimes inflated. Yes, they may have a better selection, but better prices and items that originated in the area are more likely found in the antique stores like in Mount Pleasant, Folly Beach, James Island, or West Ashley.
To that end, a favorite place to poke around is the 15,000-square-foot Roumillat's Antique Mall & Auction (2241 Savannah Highway on Highway 17 South). The inventory is constantly changing and you can find just about anything here.
After a day of shopping, you may want to hit the town. Keep reading to learn about Charleston's evening haunts, where you can listen to jazz or dance the night away.