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 get to South Carolina right now, you can buy all of these local Charleston gifts online. So go ahead, start shopping.
1. Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
Buy now: Country Ham Biscuits, $72 for 24 biscuits, calliesbiscuits.com
You can’t go to Charleston without sampling the baked goods at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, named for owner-baker Carrie Morey’s mother, Callie, whose homemade ham biscuits launched the business. Happily, Callie’s ships across the United States and 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. Our other AFAR favorite, Callie’s Blackberry Jam is also available online.
2. Brackish Bow Ties
Buy now: Bow ties, from $225, brackishbowties.com
Anyone who watched 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. It doesn’t just cater to men either: Lapel pins do double duty as hat pins; feather earrings are available for women. The company’s line of feathered accessories is also available at the Charleston Preservation Society.
3. Smithey Ironware Co.
Buy now: No. 6 Skillet, $80, smithey.com
Smithey’s coveted line of cast-iron pans are all hand- and machine-worked in Charleston. Its No. 6, a small 6-inch skillet designed for baking or single-serve meals, debuted in January 2021, joining 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch skillets that are also available. Tack on a smart leather sleeve for a complete chef’s set.
4. Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.
Buy now: The Tonic Trio, $26, jackrudycocktailco.com
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 Tonic Trio, with three different types of artisanal tonic syrups, is the perfect bar kit for home mixologists.
5. High Wire Distilling Co.
Buy now: Jimmy Red Bourbon, $108, flaviar.com
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: Its nutty, sweet Jimmy Red bourbon sold out within days of being named Best in the South by Garden & Gun in October 2018 (it’s available year-round now). In-store pickup is currently available, or buy online to have items shipped: Flaviar.com carries most of High Wire’s stock and ships to most states.
6. Croghan’s Jewel Box
Buy now: Goldbug Collection, from $35, croghansjewelbox.com
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.
7. Rewined Candles
Buy now: Champagne candle, $26, rewinedcandles.com
North Charleston–made Rewined Candles cater to oenophiles with wine-scented candles inspired by grapes from chardonnay to cabernet sauvignon. Its champagne candle exudes bread notes, citrus, and honey. All candles are presented in recycled wine bottles.
8. Charleston Shucker Co.
Buy now: Carolina oyster shucker, $39, charlestonshuckerco.com
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.
9. J. Stark
Buy now: Clark Dopp Kit, $100, starkmade.com
Named for James Dean’s character in Rebel Without a Cause, J. Stark stitches handsome waxed-canvas and bridle-leather travel bags in its shop on King Street. 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 it has in store? Just ask and it will make a bespoke one for the same price and mail it to you within a few weeks.
10. Charleston Specialty Foods
Buy now: Charleston Snack Basket, $45, charlestonspecialtyfoods.com
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 United States. AFAR favorite pecan pralines, fired in copper kettles with candied sugar and sweet cream butter, are the ultimate sweet snack.
11. Charleston Tea Garden
Buy now: Charleston Tea Garden set, $45 for 6 boxes, bigelowtea.com
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 Garden offers tours of its farm and sells its teas in local grocery stores. It produces nine different types of tea, including black, green, and several flavored varieties.
This article was originally published in 2018; it was updated on November 7, 2022, with current information.