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Expert Tips

 

King, Market Streets Highlight Charleston's Best Shopping Ventures



Variety abounds in the number of local clothing, books, antiques, and food goods shops. Our recommendations favor those locally-owned shops such as Blue Bicycle Books, the Vault/Haute Hanger, and Las Olas–all thriving due to community support for small businesses, and of course, their unique stock of products.

Don't worry about budget; Charleston offers a unique mix of shops, from high-end designer stores like Gucci and Louis Vuitton at The Shops at Belmond Charleston Place to antique housewares and vintage furniture at Page's Thieves Market. There's plenty of shopping to be done for the little love ones in your life as well, with both modern and old-fashioned games and toys on display at the whimsical Magnifilous Toy Emporium on Upper King Street.

Outlet malls and shopping centers are located just a short drive away in North Charleston and over the Ravenel Bridge in Mount Pleasant, if that's what you're after. Shopping centers of the more open market variety are an integral part of the Charleston community, with the Charleston City Market and Charleston Farmers Market both within easy walking distance from anywhere downtown.


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Visit the Magnifilous Toy Emporium on Upper King Street for Charleston's biggest and best collection of toys, tricks, and games for imaginations of all ages! Magnifilous Toy Emporium is your one-stop shop for children's books, games, and gifts, and makes for a playful pit stop on your way to or from the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry, located just a few blocks down King Street. Here at Magnifilous Toy Emporium, both kids and parents will find gifts of all varieties, including those nostalgic classic toys such as Jack in the Box, Lincoln Logs, and Pick Up Sticks. Whether you're shopping for a birthday, Christmas present, or just for fun, you'll find something "magnifilous" here.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Magnifilous Toy Emporium is your one-stop shop for children's books, games, and gifts, and makes a great pit stop on your way to or from the Children's Museum just a few blocks away.

Clare's expert tip: Check the Magnifilous Toy Emporium window display for a peek at the store's current seasonal or holiday themes.

Read more about Magnifilous Toy Emporium →


Mount Pleasant Towne Centre


Located just under ten miles and a short drive away from Charleston, this open-air mall and shopping center offers an exceptional upscale shopping experience away from the crowds and busy tourist areas of downtown. Mount Pleasant's Towne Center features more than 65 national and local stores, such as Belk, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Barnes & Noble, as well as Victoria's Secret, Copper Penny and Copper Penny Shoez and Francesca's. If you need a shopping break while in Mount Pleasant, catch a movie at the 16-screen Regal Palmetto Grand Theater or grab a bite to eat at one of Towne Center's many restaurants.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Mount Pleasant's Towne Center makes our 10Best Shopping list due to its easy parking, short distance from downtown and large variety of boutiques and shops.

Clare's expert tip: The movie theater at Towne Centre accumulates a sizable line on weekend evenings, especially for big releases. Pick up your tickets and get dinner nearby before the show!

Read more about Mount Pleasant Towne Centre →




Located within the Charleston Place Hotel's East and West Wings, the Shops at Charleston Place connect a cool, grandly structured space between King and Meeting streets, intersecting with the famous and picturesque Charleston Place Hotel double marble staircase. With well known high end brands like Tommy Bahama, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Godiva Chocolate, this string of luxury shops are worth a visit, even if just to stroll through some air conditioning or to window shop. Eat at one of Charleston Place Hotel's four star restaurants like the more casual Palmetto Grill courtyard, or visit the Spa at Charleston Place, to relax post-shopping.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Shops at Charleston Place aren't just accessible or convenient for guests of the Charleston Place Hotel. Their Meeting Street location is walkable from most anywhere.

Clare's expert tip: Charleston Place Hotel's Palmetto Grill offers lunch in a beautiful outdoor courtyard garden setting - the perfect reward for some serious shopping!

Read more about Shops at Charleston Place →


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Located in Mount Pleasant just before you reach Sullivan's Island, Page's Thieves Market is one of Charleston's best for second-hand furniture, vintage relics, art, and antiques. Give yourself some time to spend here; there's more than enough inside (and on the porch) to keep you interested for quite a while. Prices are fair, and fall within a wide range from "fixer upper" furniture to elegant vintage pieces that cost a pretty penny. New stock comes in often, and pieces here sell quickly. If you love something at Page's, don't let it go! It might disappear quickly. Auction lovers, be sure to attend one of the Page's Thieves Market auctions, held every month or so on the premises (check social media pages for exact dates).

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Part antique store, part handmade gifts and goods, Page's Thieves is worthy of a visit anytime you're in the Mount Pleasant or Sullivan's Island area.

Clare's expert tip: Check the Page's Facebook page before visiting for a sneak peak at some of the items you'll find on sale in-store.

Read more about Page's Thieves Market →


House of Sage


Conveniently located between King Street's shopping district and the College of Charleston campus, House of Sage is a must see during any fashionista's time in Charleston. With both men and women's styles, housewares, jewelry and accessories, House of Sage has it all! This funky boutique definitely channels a more edgy style than you'll find at other nearby boutiques, but keeps it real with laid back tees, a wide selection of denim, and graphic tees with screen print logos only a local or Charleston regular would understand. Prices are reasonable boutique level, with a generously-priced sale rack always stocked near the back of the store.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: House of Sage brings something different to the downtown Charleston shopping scene, providing a unique and edgy look at more reasonable boutique prices.

Clare's expert tip: House of Sage has some of the best prices when it comes to top-trend styles and charming accessories. Stop here before or after lunch at Caviar & Bananas!

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This swanky swimwear boutique brings the heat to Upper King year-round, selling everything you need for that upcoming vacation. Browse an impressive variety of both men's and women's bathing suits, along with dresses, shirts, shorts, watches, sandals, and sun glasses. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable about their products--on hand to assist with styling and sizing recommendations. The prices are steep; you'll be getting what you pay for in value when purchasing from one of the many designer swimwear lines Las Olas carries, such as LSpace, Mikoh, Boys and Arrows, and more. Guys, there's plenty for you at Las Olas, too! Shop swim trunks, durable flip flops, hats, and watches while your lady browses bikinis. Not a bad deal, right?

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Las Olas has so much more to offer than simply swimwear. You'll find the best variety of vacation gear, from sandals to shades, inside.

Clare's expert tip: Shop at Las Olas in the winter offseason for the best deals on hot summer swimwear. Summer comes early in Charleston. Be prepared with a visit to Las Olas!

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Conveniently located in the heart of King Street's busy shopping district, The Vault & Haute Hanger at 307 King Street offers an unseen combination of family vintage-style varsity sports wear on one side and fabulous women's boutique printed dresses, denim, tops and jewelry. The Vault carries vintage style sports apparel for the whole family, including shirts, jerseys, sweatshirts, hats, flip flops, and more with logos of your favorite MBA, MLB, NFL, NHL and collegiate teams. The Vault also carries College of Charleston, South Carolina, and Clemson gear, with all sports apparel available in season and year round. Many fixtures, props, and authentic vintage pennants, as well as dog leashes and collars are also for sale in your favorite teams and styles! Meanwhile, Haute Hanger is a local's hotspot for gameday wear, vibrantly colored tops and dresses for nights out on the town and trendy jewelry.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: The Vault & Haute Hanger easily makes our 10 Best Shopping list, due to its double sided store offerings: women's boutique and varsity sports shop.

Clare's expert tip: With complimentary dog treats and suckers, The Vault & Haute Hanger are a dog friendly, kid friendly shopping experience!

Read more about The Vault & Haute Hanger →


Blue Bicycle Books
Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney


Charleston's only downtown used bookstore, Blue Bicycle Books on King Street specializes in "used, rare, and local" books. This store has a vintage, cozy feel inside, and has much more depth than apparent from the outside. Blue Bicycle Books carries over 50,000 volumes of new and used books, and has been voted the Charleston area's Best Book Store many times over. Blue Bicycle Books also hosts numerous in-store events and book signings, as well as a kid's summer writing camp called Write of Summer and Y'ALL Fest, a young adults book festival featuring the country's bestselling young adult lit authors! Visit their online store at www.Bluebicyclebooks.com for signed books and Charleston themed takeaways.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Blue Bicycle Books has been Charleston's little book shop that could for nearly 20 years, with an unseen collection of Charleston themed novels and cookbooks.

Clare's expert tip: If you're planning to spend some time exploring Upper King, pay to park in the lot adjacent to Blue Bicycle Books - its a $10 flat rate for all day parking.

Read more about Blue Bicycle Books →


Charleston City Market
Photo courtesy of Historic Charleston City Market


The Historic Charleston City Market is perhaps the most visited shopping destination in all of downtown Charleston. Always no less than bustling with shoppers and sightseers, the City Market is open 365 days a year, and showcases local Charleston vendors, their unique wares and crafts as well as casual and fine dining take-away fare. Charleston's famous sweet grass basket weavers can be found practicing their craft along the Market's open air stalls. The Market was constructed between 1804 - 1830, and originally used as a meat, vegetable and seafood marketplace. Charleston's City Market finished multimillion dollar renovations in 2011, and now features air conditioning and revolving fans, keeping shoppers cool in summer months.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: The Charleston City Market tops our list of shopping destinations in Charleston due to its uniquely Charleston style, storied structure and variety of local goods.

Clare's expert tip: The City Market can become quite full of visitors. Strollers and pets are not recommended here.

Read more about Charleston City Market →


Charleston Farmers Market
Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney


Head to the Charleston Farmers Market (April through early December) for a complete showcase of what Charleston's local artists, artisans, bakers and, of course, farmers have to offer. Enter this Marion Square market from Meeting or King streets and encounter rows of local farmers offering all of the fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, and flowers of the season. After bagging any groceries or produce you may need, it's time to choose a food vendor and snag some quick and tasty brunch or lunch to enjoy in the park. Choosing a food vendor is a tough decision at Charleston Farmers Market; trust your nose and line up for whichever place smells the best--it's all good here. After a quick bite, stroll the remainder of the market rows to browse handmade jewelry, goats milk soaps, paintings and letterpress goods. You'll leave full and happy, with a best kind of local souvenirs in tow.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: You'll find more than veggies at this farmers' market! Dozens of local vendors are on hand with an impressive variety of goods, gifts, and more.

Clare's expert tip: The regularly scheduled Farmers Market closes for the year in early December, when the shorter Holiday Magic Market takes over until the New Year.

Read more about Charleston Farmers Market →


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Meet Clare Sweeney

A South Carolina native and avid locavore, Clare is always venturing between traveling abroad and her beloved Lowcountry. 

Clare works and plays in downtown Charleston, spending her days...  More About Clare

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