CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – New stores are popping up weekly in downtown Charleston, welcoming both locals and tourists on the hunt for a great find.

Charleston regularly tops lists touting the Holy City as the “Best Southern City,” “Best Restaurants” and perhaps soon, best shopping. The allure of Charleston – recently featured in multiple television and lifestyle-themed shows – is bringing in big bucks for retailers in downtown’s central business district.

“Charleston is an experience, and that’s where retail is headed- it’s not just about going into a store and buying a thing, it’s having an experience. It’s been really good to see especially after the pandemic and everything that happened there, this rush of people to come back to King Street; our foot traffic numbers are back to where they were pre-pandemic levels, so I think that has helped to draw a lot of business owners, they will know they are getting them into the stores.”

Meg Thompson, Director of Business, and Neighborhood Services for the City of Charleston revealed some numbers worth bragging about, 87% occupancy on upper King Street and 92% occupancy on lower King. 

Some of the results we are seeing right in front of us, like the Target opening less than a week ago.

“What I am really excited about is places like Target opening up, can be a resource for people who actually live on the peninsula, whether that’s full-time residents, college students, having these things on the peninsula is actually a big benefit to them too.”

Anyone who has taken the familiar walk down King Street knows the character doesn’t come from the big box stores, it’s the quaintness and the charm of the small businesses that keep people coming back.

“Everybody totally gets Charleston. Charleston has got a really neat buzz right now, and I can’t tell you how many people I hear, oh I want to go to Charleston and buy something in Charleston… it’s getting harder to find things.”

Ala von Auersberg found the perfect home for her namesake store on Church Street. “It’s beautiful, historic, southern hospitality. I mean, it’s just a wonderful place to be.”

The May opening marked the third location for the store, adding to an already impressive list. “So, we have a showroom in New York and a store in Palm Beach, but Charleston just felt like the right place to come to.” 

Ala is just one of many new downtown retailers hoping that wonderful Charlestonian spirit comes across through her clothes.

“My customer is a lot about family and entertaining in their home, a lot about having their friends around, a lot about southern hospitality if you like, so that’s why it’s such an easy fit…there’s a real Joie de vivre in Charleston.”