Around this time of year Harbison turns into a parking lot as people blow their budgets preparing for the holidays. And most of those people have no idea what they’re looking for because they are stumped by the yearly tradition of gift giving.
But if you’re in the market for something uniquely South Carolina, check out gift shops at Columbia area museums and historic properties.
There are several options; we’ve selected three.
S.C. State Museum
“We have a very extensive selection of certified South Carolina products,” said Scottie Nicholson, retail manager. Nicholson has worked for the museum gift shop since the museum opened in 1988. “When I opened the store there was only one SC food product company, if you can imagine. And they were in Charleston.”
The products she recommends for the holidays? Adams Apple Cranberry Butter ($10.95) and Mother Shucker’s Original Cocktail Sauce ($7.95).
“Adams Apple started out with two flavors: the apple butter and the pie jam,” said Nicholson, noting both are carried in the museum shop. “We’ve been carrying the product since [Adams] went into business. This is the first year she did the apple cranberry. We were one of the first to have it.”
Same with the cocktail sauce.
“She’s part owner of the Oyster Bar on Park Street,” said Nicholson. “She developed the recipe for the oyster bar and they got so many compliments they decided to bottle it. And it’s oyster season so it’s the perfect time to buy it.”
Columbia Museum of Art
Since 1998, the Columbia Museum of Art’s gift shop has collected and sold items with their own artistic value. Brantley Cox, museum shop manager, said while the shop has its own street entrance on Main Street, people still don’t think to shop for gift ideas there, and she’d like that to change.
“Yes we are an extension of the museum, but we’re also a shop,” she said. “So it’s hard to find that target audience.”
This season she’s recommending an assortment of items, among them:
Hot Sox, $8 for women’s and $12 for men’s: “They’re just different little designs that are fun and quirky for men and women,” she said. “The first time I ever ordered them I only ordered 24 pairs and within a week they were gone. Last year this was the most popular stocking stuffer. People love getting socks for Christmas.”
Earrings by local artisan Hippy Do-Da ($20): “These are just a fun, gold stamped earring that go with anything,” said Cox. “And her stuff is very affordable.”
Mary Catherine Kunze “Uniquely MC” fold-over clutch bag ($32): “I have one of her bags like that and I get compliments on it all the time,” said Cox.
The shop offers tax-free purchases year around. “People get so excited for tax-free weekend and we’re like, that’s everyday for us,” said Cox.
S.C. State House
The State House gift shop is run by the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, the state agency that also provides the free tours to the public.
“We’re small, but packed with fabulous gifts from South Carolina,” said Donna Paul, manager. “We have something for everyone’s budget.”
Her gift selections include:
Sand dollar ornament ($10.95): “Every year the sand dollars have been a huge hit,” said Paul. “We’re well known for our holiday ornaments. Every year I try to get a different one. They’re highly collectible and last a lifetime.”
Renee Gordon handpainted platter ($80): “Around the holiday time all these handpainted pieces you see, we bring in,” said Paul. “All these platters are one of a kind, painted by Gordon.”
R. Hanauer ties($27.95): “Senator Tim Scott wore this on one of the national shows and the next day guys were saying they had to have it,” said Paul.
Goat Island treasure box ($79): “You can put these anywhere: in your office, on your dresser, on your night table,” said Paul. “And there’s a special surprise on the inside with the State Seal. They’re made out of solid wood and she has the finials custom-made for her. This is probably one of our nicest gift items. It’s one of the governor’s favorite gifts. She has one custom-made with her governor’s logo on the inside.”
Get an extra 10 percent off through Monday, Dec. 12 on purchases. Select items up to 40 percent off.
Dwaun Sellers, firstname.lastname@example.org