Bring back a bit of the Lowcountry with these unique souvenirs from Charleston makers.
The most important gift you’ll bring home with you from any trip will be your memories, of course, but it’s also nice to bring something back to share with your family and friends, especially when you can support a local business at the same time. These days, Charleston’s makers are producing everything from feathered bow ties to bourbon and cast-iron pans. Plus, even if you can’t make it to Charleston before the holidays, you can buy all of these local gifts online. So go ahead, start shopping.
Clothes and Accessories
Croghan’s Jewel Box
Fourth-generation Croghan Mariana (Mini) Hay designed the store’s signature Goldbug Collection, which gilds Charleston’s unofficial mascot, the palmetto (aka: cockroach). It gets its name from an Edgar Allan Poe short story, which was inspired by the author’s time stationed at nearby Fort Moultrie. The critters accent everything from hoop earrings to drop pendants, cuffs, and key chains for a distinctive, six-legged memento of the Holy City.
Buy It: Goldbug Collection (from $45), Croghan’s Jewel Box
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Brackish Bow Ties
Anyone watching The Good Place will have seen Ted Danson’s character, Michael, rock some fantastic bow ties. His peacock one is a Brackish original, designed in Charleston from exquisite plumage. The company’s full line of feathered accessories is available at the Charleston Preservation Society, and doesn’t just cater to men: Lapel pins ($55) do double duty as hat pins; feather earrings ($95) are also exclusively available here for women. Seasonal bow ties debut each fall for the holidays ($195); no two are exactly alike.
Buy It: Bow ties ($195), Preservation Society
Named for James Dean’s character in Rebel Without a Cause, J. Stark stitches handsome waxed-canvas and bridle-leather travel bags at the back of their airy shop in Charleston’s up-and-coming Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhood. The stylish wine totes (big enough for two), dopp kits, and weekend bags age with use—so they’ll look even better after a trip. Items can be customized to your travel style, too. Want the dopp kit in bright blue instead of the neutrals they have in store? Just ask and they’ll make a bespoke one for the same price and mail it to you within a few weeks.
Buy It: Dopp kit ($95), J. Stark
North Charleston–made Rewined Candles cater to oenophiles with wine-scented candles inspired by grapes from chardonnay to cabernet sauvignon. Their viognier “blend” is a dreamy mix of citrus, peach, and iris on the nose; their champagne candle exudes bread notes, citrus, and honey. All are presented in recycled wine bottles.
Buy It: Champagne candle ($28), Amazon
Smithey Ironware Co.
Smithey’s coveted line of cast-iron pans are all hand- and machine-worked in Charleston. Their new No. 8 ($100), an 8-inch chef skillet designed for everyday cooking, debuted in October 2018, bringing their boutique range to three (10-inch and 12-inch skillets are also available). Tack on a smart leather sleeve ($7) for a complete chef’s set.
Buy It: No. 8 Chef Skillet ($100), Smithey Ironware Co.
Charleston Shucker Co.
Every house in Charleston has oyster shuckers on hand—they’re often given as housewarming presents. While they’re ubiquitous enough to be found at local hardware shops, a more personal option is Charleston Shucker Co.’s original, wood-handled Lowcountry shucker, which can be customized by adding a monogram to both sides of the blade.
Buy It: Lowcountry Oyster Shucker ($7), Charleston Shucker Co.
Food and Drink
Callie’s Charleston Biscuits
You can’t go to Charleston without sampling Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, named for owner-baker Carrie Morey’s mother, Callie, whose homemade ham biscuits launched the business. Happily, Callie’s ships across the U.S. and, new in 2018, to all of Canada, too. Those original Country Ham Biscuits are still handmade, with finely chopped artisanal ham and Dijon mustard butter packed between two cheddar cheese biscuits (they’re also available in cocktail size for parties). Our other AFAR favorite, Callie’s blackberry jam biscuit, is only available on-site (3 for $5).
Buy It: Country Ham biscuits ($46), Callie’s Biscuits
Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.
Made in Charleston by Matt Burt and Brooke Reitz of Leon’s fame, the Jack Rudy line of small-batch cordials, syrups, tonics, bitters, and grenadines is smartly blended and packaged for next-level cocktails. Add Bourbon Cocktail Cherries to make a pro Manhattan, or Elderflower tonic to tequila, bourbon, and rum. The Jack Pack, with its trio of artisanal tonic, grenadine, and bitters, is the perfect bar kit for home mixologists.
Buy It: The Jack Pack ($50), Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.
Charleston Specialty Foods
Every Charleston traditional food you could possibly crave, from shrimp and grits to benne wafers, is stocked at this fine local purveyor that ships across the U.S. AFAR favorite pecan pralines, fired in copper kettles and pralined with candied sugar and sweet cream butter, are the ultimate sweet snack.
Buy It: Snack basket ($40), Charleston Specialty Foods
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High Wire Distilling Co.
Founded in 2013 in North Central, High Wire’s distinctive, small-batch craft spirits rank as some of the most sought-after hooch in Lowcountry. To wit: Their nutty, sweet Jimmy Red bourbon sold out within days of being named Best in the South by Garden & Gun in October 2018 (Good news: The next batch releases in December). You can buy up two bottles on-site per visit, or buy online to have them shipped: D.C.’s Cordial Fine Wines & Spirits carries most of High Wire’s stock and ships to many states.
Buy It: Jimmy Red ($100), Cordial Fine Wines & Spirits
Charleston Tea Plantation
If you’ve had a glass of sweet tea or an afternoon cup of Earl Grey anywhere in Charleston, it’s likely what you were drinking was grown locally out on Wadmalaw Island. As the only commercial tea plantation in the United States, the Charleston Tea Plantation offers tours of their farm and sells their teas in local grocery stores. They produce nine different types of tea, including black, green, and several flavored varieties, but the Plantation Peach Tea makes for a particularly refreshing iced tea.
Buy It: Charleston Tea Plantation sampler ($45), Bigelow Tea
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