Nighttimes in Charleston has a lot to offer, from waterfront dinners to ghost tours of haunted sites. But a visit to the City Market is something you must not skip.
If you’re looking for a 100 percent Charleston-made souvenir that can’t be bought anywhere else in the world, the Charleston City Night Market is the place for you.
At night, on Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30 to 10:30, new vendors set up shop to replace the daytime stalls. Locally-made, handcrafted items and crafts fill the alleys, each artifact with a story that you would want to hear and take home.
Local, handmade, sustainable
If you’re an avid shopper, set aside a couple of hours for the night market. This historic market stretches for four blocks right smack in the historic district of the Holy City.
From proudly Lowcountry products that have made it to the international market to crafts woven by local village people, you’ll find them here.
The most common item you’ll probably spot is the
sweetgrass basket being handwoven right in front of you. These baskets are a Gullah-Geechee craft, which has been passed down to generations for 400 years.
The unique culture and traditions of the Gullah-Geechee people have an immeasurable influence on Charleston. And this basket-weaving tradition is one of the few kept alive. Did you know that, much like wine, this product gets more expensive as they age because of their historical value? You can find a $5 miniature piece as well as an $8,000 collector’s piece.
Wine-inspired scented candles
If sweetgrass baskets speak of heritage, Adam Fetsch’s Rewined Candles speak of fashionable sustainability. It has captured the attention of international markets, with 2,000 retail stores across the country and abroad, and can be found here as well.
The branded candles are scented and crafted in recycled wine bottles or jars. The scents mimic the aroma of your favorite wines, Lowcountry style.
Sustainable and sea-inspired products
The Charleston City Night Market houses more than 100 talented artists and craftspeople that sell products from baskets, candles, and soaps to artworks, quilts, jewelry, and clothes.
There are also vendors with products geared toward recycling, like Carolina Cajun Creations’ repurposed bowls, Miner Metal’s detailed sculpture from repurposed steel, and Old World Glass Studio’s glass bottles and fused glass transformations.
You will also find a diverse range of crafts that are inspired by the seas, like beach-inspired fashion accessories, coastal-themed house decor, and ocean-themed soaps and lotions.
>Ensure a product’s authenticity by checking for the vendor display tile that says, “Certified Authentic: Handmade in Charleston.”
Getting more value for your money
If you are buying more than one piece, you may be able to strike a bargain if you know how to ask. But some items may be more expensive than similar ones for a good reason, like 100-year-old sweetgrass baskets.
Vendors are also more inclined to give discounts when their store is about to close. So do come around at 5:00 p.m. when the day market vendors are packing up, or around 10:00 p.m. when the night vendors are about to close shop. The disadvantage though is that the better selections may already be sold out.
There is a story behind each product at the Charleston City Night Market, from pieces steeped in tradition to emerging items unique to the area.
So when you visit the night market, strike a meaningful conversation before bargaining. Because beyond a shopping spree, the historic Charleston City Market invites you to discover its people and values.