Along Market Street, in the open-air vendor stalls, you can watch the sweetgrass basket makers twisting and braiding fibers into containers that they’ll tell you will last a lifetime. I believe them. More than just a souvenir, the traditional West African craft has been a fixture in the Lowcountry for generations, and in Charleston, these beautiful baskets are everywhere. (Like in my house, right now.) Beyond the historic Market, this city is lined with locally owned shops on King Street, Broad Street, Queen Street, Cannon Street, and off the peninsula in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, and North Charleston. On most Saturday mornings, the Charleston Farmers Market is held in Marion Square, and the vendors include not just farmers, but local artists and craftsmen, too. For souvenir shopping starters, this downtown list includes spots for jewelry, art, antiques, local-made toys, and fashion—some of the shops are unusual or offbeat, but that’s part of Charleston’s take-home charm.
Indigo & Cotton
When Indigo & Cotton opened a few years ago on Cannon Street, men found it right away for the denim and shirts you can’t get anywhere else in Charleston. Jute market bags are custom-printed CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA USA, and the fascinating taxidermy-inspired art that’s for sale is by Charleston’s own Becca Barnet.
Croghan’s Jewel Box
If you’re wed in Charleston, someone’s going to give you a long-handled silver rice spoon from Croghan’s—and you’ll love it. (I do.) Owned by one family for more than a century, this little King Street shop is treasured for baubles, bangles, sparkle and silver—endless charm bracelets, rings, photo frames, and trays.
Magnifilous Toy Emporium
Walk in the door, and you’ll probably notice the mini Ferris wheel or giant gumball machine. This indie shop is not like any chain toy store—on purpose. Toy displays are interactive or over-sized, or both, including the life-sized plush baby giraffes and elephants from Australian makers. The owners feature Lowcountry-designed and made toys, too.
If you find Curiosity, you’ve already had a souvenir-worthy experience. The French Quarter shop is down a sweet little brick path off of Queen Street in a low-ceilinged carriage house. Inside you’ll find a mix of vintage silverware sets and letterpress letters, along with terrific-smelling soaps and hip print publications about design.
Definitely not just for garden art—but I happen to dig garden art—this tiny gallery shop is a local treasure for its bright adornments. (I love my ceramic, turquoise blue bird on a stick.) Patio lights, paintings, block prints, pottery, sculpture, mobiles and other Charleston-made pieces round out Lime Blue’s selection.