The small town of Charleston, South Carolina, is known for its history, architecture and exquisite gardens. With a quick stroll down King Street, the city’s main shopping corridor, it’s easy to understand why Charleston is also a top destination for antique lovers. Antique stores are as prevalent here as bagel shops are in New York City. The toughest part for travelers? Deciding which boutiques are worth your time.
Best Place for Fine Antiques: George C. Birlant & Company
If you’re looking for a peek into the history of Charleston, don’t pass this place by. Founded in 1922 by auctioneer and realtor George C. Birlant, this shop specializes in perfectly preserved English antiques, including furniture, silver, and fine china. It’s also the maker of the timeless Charleston Battery Bench, which you can see throughout Charleston’s public parks and purchase here for your home.
Best Place for Suitcase-Sized Souvenirs: Curiosity Shop
Looking for something small enough for your carry-on? Curiosity Shop in Charleston’s French Quarter has the best collection of antique barware, hotel silver, kilim pillows and other small novelties. For those looking for something romantic to bring home, the shop’s antique love token bracelets—a popular way to show affection in the 1800s—are a great and unexpected gift.
Best Place for the Design-Savvy Shopper: Fritz Porter
Opened in November of 2015, Fritz Porter is a high-end take on the traditional antique mall, featuring top-of-the-line antiques in a wide range of styles from the best dealers in the country. It’s also a showroom for several contemporary lighting, fabric and furniture lines, including some of the best in the South: Maresca Textiles from Savannah and The Art Salon from Charlotte. Last but not least, the store has an entire booth dedicated to garden antiques, which is about as Charleston as it gets.
Best Place for Architectural Salvage: Workshop
Located in the happening Upper King district of Charleston, Workshop prides itself on its perfectly patina-ed architectural salvage, like fireplace mantels, antique doors, tables and chairs from across the South. They also carry pottery, lighting and other accessories by local artisans and students from the American College of the Building Arts in downtown Charleston.
Best Place for Antiques with Old-Florida Flair: Indigo Market
If you’ve got a home on the coast, or even you just wish you did, Indigo Market is a must-see on your Charleston tour. Located on Upper Meeting Street—directly across from a collection of great new restaurants—the shop is stocked with bamboo and rattan case pieces, pastel oil-paintings, brass lighting and floral upholstery. It’s like a trip to the Florida Keys…in the 1950s.
Best Place for Mid-Century: Charleston Revisions
Charleston Revisions specializes in the restoration of 60s and 70s-era chests and other case pieces in a rainbow of colors, in addition to brass tables and desk accessories and vintage-inspired pillows that pack a lot of pattern. Mid-century modern barware—including ice buckets, cocktail shakers and glassware—top every table in the store.