Produce for the People at The Vegetable Bin of Charleston

So much better than the big guys

By Clare Sweeney,

When you visit the downtown location of "Veggie Bin" – as it's affectionately called by its regulars – you'll often be greeted by the owners themselves.

That's not an accident; Michael Bailey, the family's fifth-generation owner, and his wife Lauren carry on a longstanding tradition of personal service and attention to detail.

To put it simply, a love for their customers and the local Charleston, S.C., community are top priorities for The Vegetable Bin team.

There's a lot of local love packed into the small Vegetable Bin storefront on Spring Street — Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney

That's why you'll encounter an impressive selection of locally grown, sourced, raised and made products and produce in-store.

Providing support to local farmers and purveyors while providing fresh, affordable goods to local customers has been the core mission of The Vegetable Bin since Bailey's grandfather opened the first of their retail groceries on East Bay and Society Streets years ago.

Since then, The Vegetable Bin brand has moved its flagship downtown location to a more residential neighborhood, tucked into a pocket of shops on Spring Street.

They've also grown to open two additional stores, with one in North Charleston's Park Circle neighborhood and another on Seabrook Island. There's even a new family-owned restaurant in the works, also planned for Seabrook.

The Vegetable Bin carries a nice variety of bread and baked goods, in addition to produce — Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney

How can The Vegetable Bin be so successful when it's up against big-box grocery chains such as Harris Teeter, Publix and Bi-Lo? The Baileys give credit to an unwavering demand for local produce, and really, really good products.

"We don't sell anything we don't sample first, and love!" they say.

These fingerling potatoes are a good example of the colorful produce at The Vegetable Bin — Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney

And there's a lot to love at Veggie Bin. Since most of the produce they carry is grown nearby, it's as ripe and as fresh as seasonality allows, filling the store with a full spectrum of fruit and vegetable colors.

There's much more than fresh produce here, too. The Vegetable Bin now carries local and imported cheeses; organic, grass-fed meats; handmade pasta; soups and sauces; and also olive oil.

Loaves of bread, baked goods, eggs, honey and tea are also popular items among Veggie Bin's shelves and refrigerated cases.

But that's not all. You can also pick up some locally made soaps or Charleston Tea Plantation bath and body products alongside your groceries.

So, what's next for The Vegetable Bin family of stores? According to the Baileys, the empire will continue to expand across Charleston (with fingers crossed for a future Folly Beach location), but slowly.

For now, the goals are still the same as they have been for generations: to provide fresh, local, affordable produce and products – and good service – to the people of Charleston.

Head to The Vegetable Bin for more than just your fruits and veggies. Cheese! — Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney