The Commons is perfectly at home in this dreamy Broad Street courtyard — Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney
Once you've arrived in Charleston, it's easy to get lost in time. Walking along the city's historic streets, one starts to forget any agenda and to slide into a simpler schedule: admiring ancient live oaks, peering into hidden gardens and courtyards, imagining those who lived here centuries earlier.
Before you know it, you're on Broad Street, popping in and out of the many art galleries and shops that share the slate stone sidewalks. As you meander towards King Street, pause at 54 1/2 Broad, and follow the small arrow sign to the brick-lined courtyard there, completely hidden from the busier passersby.
Here, you'll find The Commons, a beautifully hidden little storefront selling all American-made, handcrafted home goods and decor. Step inside, and you'll quickly notice a surprising volume of products in-store, all tied to a sophisticated black, white and neutral color palette.
The Commons shop is comparable to a small gallery, with multiple styles and artists' works on display — Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney
You'll also soon meet Erin Connelly, the Charleston half of a pair of friends and partners who own and manage The Commons business here, in Seattle and online. Connolley and Kerry Clark Speake – The Commons' Seattle partner – both have a background in textile design, and they have applied their love of modern style to supporting local and national artisans.
Selecting what to sell in their Charleston shop is easy: they promote the products that they love and keep in their own homes. They also choose to support American manufacturing while boosting local artist and friends in the community.
While buying handmade home goods does warrant a higher-than-average price point, patrons are usually happy with The Commons value proposition: all goods sold are made with a generational level of quality, meaning that they'll stay in your home and your family for many years to come.
Black and white stoneware mugs by Len Carella Ceramics of San Francisco, Calif. — Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney
In The Commons' one-room space, there are works from over 30 different artists and craftsmen, with a wide variety of shapes and styles represented. From woodwork to ceramics to textiles, the product materials for sale in The Commons make the shop feel more like a laid-back art gallery with multiple mediums on display.
Though handmade, the style is far from rustic. Instead, The Commons exudes a sort of modern sensibility.
This striking, hand-painted sun and moon birdhouse comes from MQuan Studio of Brooklyn, N.Y. — Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney
Expect to spend some time browsing this place; The Commons specializes in products you'll want to hold and touch. The variety of home goods here is more than impressive.
Wooden and ceramic dishware, pottery and kitchen accessories are represented in many forms, alongside tall beeswax candles, wall decor and one-of-a-kind furniture.
There are also some surprises tucked in next to more expected homewares, like hand-painted ceramic birdhouses, hand-woven dog leashes, braided hemp doormats and even tonic syrup for your next gin cocktail.
Maple Bottle Rocks wine bottle stoppers made by Brush Factory of Cincinnati, Ohio — Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney
By purchasing a piece from The Commons, you're buying into an entire lifetime of unique artistic perspective and ingenuity. The products in this shop are unique to their creator, meant to function as ordinary household fixtures as well as eye-catching conversation starters.
At The Commons, it's easy to fall in love with a tiny handmade salt cellar, speckled ceramic mug or hammered brass oyster fork you never knew you needed.
Don't worry: most of their home goods are also available online on their website.
The variety of materials and styles stocked within The Commons is impressive for such a petite shop — Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney