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Charleston's city market stretches along four buildings from Meeting Street all the way to the Customs House at the water's edge. The small buildings or, "sheds," were built between 1804 and 1830 after the land was donated to the city in 1788. The main building was constructed in 1841 and is a replica of the Temple of the Wingless Victory in Athens, Greece.
The market is open daily from around 9:30am about 6pm. Rather than a traditional meat and vegetable market like you might find in other major cities, this market provides mostly local crafts, including local sweetgrass baskets, clothing, artwork, jewelry, souvenirs, perfume, food, and other gift items. There are also a few restaurants and snack stops in the market halls.
If you start at the main building and walk toward the water, you will notice the shops steadily move from more expensive, name brand shops to tiny local vendors barely eking out a living.
Written Jan 2, 2012
Four blocks of open-air market filled with all types of souvenirs--that's Charleston City Market! Yet, not only souvenirs, but you'll also find some beautiful crafts, such as, this area's famous SWEETGRASS BASKETS*(pic #4), paintings, watercolors and pottery.
We discovered a colorful booth selling tablecloths from Provence, France(pic #3). I recognized some of the patterns from our trip to that area last year, so scooped up two for our dining room table-$35 each. The woman running the booth (CeCe) was a real charmer!
On our Walking History Tour, we were told that this area is where slaves came to purchase fruits, vegetables and fish for their owners table. Another source said that the slaves themselves had little gardens and perhaps came to sale what they grew here.
In any event, this original land was given to the city by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in 1788 so that a public market could be built in this location. It's been ravaged by tornados, earthquakes and hurricanes so has been rebuilt many times.
Market Hall (pic #2), a building housing one of the sections, was constructed in 1841 and is a copy of The Temple of Wingless Victory in Athens. It's where the market commissioners held their meetings, but it was also a place to hold social get togethers. Rental space was below and vendors were charged $1 per stall, but if it had a marble counter the price was $2 because the marble helped keep fish or meat cold.
*More on sweetgrass baskets in my customs tips
**Hours: Open Daily from March-October 8:30am-5:30pm; November-February 8:30am-5:00pm
What to buy: Sweetgrass baskets, women's scarves and skirts, adults and children t-shirts, purses, jewelry, tablecloths, birdhouses, toys, homemade scented soaps, Christmas ornaments, pastry, paintings, pottery and souvenirs of all types
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Market and Meeting St., Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-853-8000; 800-868-8118
The store at the Charleston Museum is on the ground floor. As I was walking around the balcony, I took this picture looking down onto the store. They sell clothing and various items that are featured in the museum. I didn't buy anything there for myself. There is also an internet store which has:
The jewelry appears to be mostly church related architectural items.
One of the types of reproductions was sampler kits which were quite pricey (photo 3)
They also had various children's items like books and puppets like the Barn Owl Puppet (photo 5).
What to buy: Among the books, you can get:
Another's Country (Martha Zierden and Joe W. Joseph, eds.;University of Alabama Press, 376 pp.) $29.95
"This Have I Done": Samplers and Embroideries from Charleston and the Lowcountry (Jan Hiester and Ka $19.95
Civil War Nurse- The Diary and Letters of Hannah Ropes (John R. Brumgardt, ed., 149 pp.) $13.95
Queens and Commoners of Egypt's New Kingdom $2.00
Natural History in South Carolina from Colonial Times to the Present (Albert E. Sanders and William $45.00
Images of America- An Album from the Collection of The Charleston Museum (Mary Moore Jacoby and John $19.99
In the gift section is an Engraved Rice Spoon $45.00
and the video When Rice Was King $29.95
What to pay: For another book - Audubon- The Charleston Connection $14.95 (photo 2)
In the reproduction category - Dorothy Ians Sampler Silk Kit (1750) $96.00 (photo 3)
Under jewelry St. John's Lutheran Church Portico Pin $23.00 (photo 4)
The puppets range in price from $16.95 to $48.00 for a large raccoon.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 360 Meeting Street
Phone: (843) 722-2996 ext 246
Gifts and souveniers. They don't seem to have on-line ordering or mail order availability except for this THIS FRAGILE PLANET video
Running Time Approx.: 60 minutes, Color, Stereo
$ 20.00 (Handling & Shipping $ 3.00)
What to buy: Their website says : from hand-blown glasswork, painted silk accessories and custom jewelry to commemorative tee-shirts, educational toys and environmentally sensitive playthings.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 100 Aquarium Wharf
Anyone who has ever been on a cruise ship will know what kind of market the old city market is, located just outside where the cruise ships dock, the wares are mostly things that cater to tourists-tshirts, local foods, local crafts. We had a quick walk through but as I wasn't interested in souvenirs we didn't stop and buy anything.
The market is also known as the Slave Market, house slaves once shopped here for produce and fish. I didn't see any of the local "basket ladies" that are mentioned frequently but people say that they work here weaving and selling sweetgrass, pine-straw, and palmetto-leaf baskets. Our guide later in the day said we'd be shocked at how expensive they were but we never inquired.
Updated Dec 5, 2010
Address: Market Street
The former food market has been transformed into a tourist market.
On 3 blocks, under the market buildings, there are small shops and simple tables to sell the international stuff we find everywhere : wooden things, Tshirts, toys, etc..
Not very interesting.
Only if you wish to bring back a gift for your mother in law.
What to buy: The only typical things we saw were the handcraft baskets sold by youngers. They tell it is a traditional activity coming from the slavery epoch. I saw the boys with the grass in hand and the baskets but I never saw one making one by himself. So it could be "made in China items"...
Updated Mar 29, 2009
Address: Market Street - Charleston
This is a great kitchen store that has a wide variety of culinary utensils and appliances. You can find some unique gadgets that you might not be able to find at a regular department store. The products are also very high in quality. Another plus is the store offers cooking classes specializing in "low country" cuisine. How cool is that?
Written Dec 2, 2008
This is a great little shop that offers some really cool shell gifts for the home. There is also a nice collection of jewelry items. The service is great and the gifts are unique!
What to pay: Varies depending on what you buy.
Written Dec 2, 2008
Address: 74-A North Market Street Charleston, SC
My wife and I thought the store was beautiful and well laid out. What we found really great was it was one of the few stores we've ever come across that concentrates on Handbags from around the world. The sale staff (Jenny in particular) seemed to know about evey handbag, where it's made. The buyers have done an outstanding job in not only the luxury brands of handbags but also the small manufactuers from all over the world. They have these really unique cocconut and zipper handbags ($70) that I wish we had bought one. Very unique store. Should have a place in NYC. Third time we've been there.
What to buy: This time the Eric Javit collection had just come in that day so she bought two. A nice touch is they discounted the second bag 25% without asking. I bought a beautiful snakeskin handbag for our daughter.
What to pay: What was really great about this store is their price range. You'd expect everything to be expensive by the look of the store but they've got
Written Feb 22, 2008
Address: 160 East Bay Street
This is a clothing shop for men, women and kids: over runs and seconds from catalogue companies. There aren't many bargains on King Street. This is one of the few.
What to buy: Ooops is fun shop to check out. I've seen brands from The Gap to Eddie Bauer to you name it. It changes all of the time and prices are dirt cheap. Clothing for women, men and kids...even shoes sometimes.
What to pay: Anywhere from $5 to $35
Written Jul 28, 2007
Address: King St., right by the University Bookstore
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