“Add to cart.” If you’ve ever shopped online (and who hasn’t?) then those three words are very familiar. It saves time, right? You get that little email touting special savings and before you know it you’re browsing items, making selections and checking out without ever leaving the comfort of your chair (couch, car, waiting room…). Instant gratification at its finest (especially when you also get free shipping!). But what about the ‘ole brick and mortar? Remember those? Walking in an actual store, finding that special little something that’s uniquely made and not mass produced – feeling it, trying it on, striking your best dressing-room pose…remember that? Even the beloved two-day package delivery pales in comparison. And in Savannah, local boutiques and shops specialize in giving you a shopping rush that’s infinitely more gratifying than any mouse click can provide. After all, this is vacation! So ditch the virtual world and let’s strike out for some real Savannah-style shopping!
If you ask a local where to start your downtown Savannah shopping excursion, nine times out of 10 the answer will be, Broughton Street. This bustling thoroughfare has been considered the commercial hub of the city since its founding in 1733 (historians say that back in the day even George Washington strolled this historic street). By the 1800s it was labeled Georgia’s first shopping district and though it suffered a devastating fire in 1820, Broughton rose from the ashes to once again become the heart of Savannah shopping. By the 1950s national chains like Sears & Roebuck, J.C. Penney, Adler’s and Kress transformed the street once again and today Broughton hosts a modern-day mix of well-known brands alongside you’re-gonna-love-em local shops that offer visitors Savannah’s most authentic shopping adventure.
Every well-balanced shopping trip should include something salty, something sweet and something that smells oh-so good! Let’s follow your scent-ses and make a stop at Nourish (202 W. Broughton Street). As you browse and breath in the selections of this enchanting shop, you’ll want to remind yourself that everything you see, touch and smell is handmade right here in Savannah. From salt scrubs to handmade soaps and bath fizzies, even essential oil aromatherapy body patches, all Nourish items are made from the best ingredients Mother Nature has to offer and are sure to delight your sense and treat your skin. “Our bar soaps are a crowd pleaser,” said Shoshanna Walker, owner of Nourish. “The soaps are how we got famous and continue to be a favorite with their natural base of skin moisturizing oil in a variety of scents.” Perhaps best of all, you can relive that feeling you have in the store every time you use your Nourish products at home so it’s like being transported back to Savannah any time you please.
Now that you smell good, how about browsing things that taste good? And for that, you need to walk just a few steps around the corner and in to the door of The Salt Table (just off Broughton at 51 Barnard Street). What started as a neighborly gesture by husband-and-wife team Dave and Carol Legasse, has become a savory business built on exceptional products and customer service (they’ve been rated 5 stars on Trip Advisor ever since they opened!). Before they had a store, the couple would prepare their now-famous “All ‘Round Good Grinder Blend” and give it to friends as gifts. Now The Salt Table boasts over 200 different flavors that feature a variety of salts, seasoning blends and sugars from around the world – all made locally. “When you come in to our shop you’re browsing products that are all made in Georgia,” stated Dave, “so when you get hooked (and you will get hooked!) you can take home a souvenir of authentic Savannah flavors and then order it online when you run out.” In addition to its exotic mix of sweet and savory blends, The Salt Table also offers customers a wine tasting bar – the only one in the entire state of Georgia that promotes only Georgia-made wines. “These are internationally acclaimed wines,” affirmed Dave, “most people think that means their only choice is Muscadine wine but we sell it all. One of our vineyards has even won more awards than any other vineyard outside of California.” I’ll raise a glass to that!
Funny thing about sampling locally made goodies – it always makes you want more and more! Thankfully you’ll satisfy your need for sweet and salty goodness just a few blocks away at Savannah Rae’s Gourmet Popcorn (206 W. Broughton Street). Ever tried Loaded Baked Potato popcorn? Or how about popcorn of the Crab Leg variety? No? Well you should! And Savannah Rae’s makes all 300 of its popcorn flavor varieties right here in Savannah using real ingredients. “We try to keep everything as healthy as possible,” explained owner of Savannah Rae’s, Jamie McAlister. “We don’t pop with butter but instead have a unique way to infuse real ingredients into the popcorn because gourmet is all about the real deal.” Named after Jamie’s late mother, Rae (who Jamie says was a popcorn fanatic), Savannah Rae’s number-one flavor is Carmel Sea Salt, followed by Cheddar-Coated Caramel and in third that gotta-try-it Loaded Baked Potato. “I’d say if you’re going to venture out and try something unexpected you have to taste the Loaded Baked Potato,” urged Jamie, “you’re eating it and it’s SO realistic you have to remind yourself it’s popcorn.” Want to take Rae’s unique flavors home with you? No problem! Savannah Rae’s ships its products all over the country so you can satisfy your craving for Savannah’s finest wherever you may roam.
Smell good – check. Tastes good – check. Now it’s time to look and feel good and lemme tell ya, there’s nothing quite like the experience you’ll get at local leather-goods boutique, Satchel (4 East Liberty Street). You know that feeling of soft leathers and suede? The irresistible touch of hair on hide? Um, yea, you’re going to buy something for sure. “Satchel is a hybrid boutique/design studio,” explained Katherine Dagen, head of customer relations for Satchel. “Not only can you shop freshly handmade leather goods, you can customize your very own bag as well!” Yes. You read right. You can work with the ‘satchelettes’ as they call themselves to design and create your very own custom bag (and they might even name it after you!). But if you’re just looking for that perfect, special little leather something that will remind you of Savannah each time you wear it, Katherine recommends one of Satchel’s reversible leather cuffs. “With two bracelets in one you can rock one side with jeans and a T-shirt and then wear the other side with a great dress.” Satchel loves a good two-for-one in its designs like its small Alison Messenger bag, which is ideal for running around town but features a removable messenger strap that instantly turns your bag in to a clutch for a night on the town (see, told ya’ you were going to buy something!). And though Satchel is a few blocks from Broughton, as Katherine puts it “Wandering the shops in Downtown and Savannah’s design district lets you really feel the pulse of the city.”
With your new leather find in the bag, we suggest you wander on over to nearby Whitaker Street and treat yourself to the inspired selections of Custard Boutique (422 Whitaker Street). “We focus on items with a purpose, unique pieces with a backstory and of course we LOVE helping people,” said a very enthusiastic Tara Kirkland, the boutique’s owner. With its creatively curated offering of clothing, accessories and décor, Custard Boutique gives customers a delightful shopping experience with surprises around every corner. “One of the things I love about my shop is how many other small businesses and artists my store supports,” explained Tara. “I know every single person who makes our jewelry and I know many of the people who make and design our clothes.” According to Tara, if you want to find something special when you’re on vacation, it’s important to consider the source, that way, when you go home with your one-of-a-kind find you have your own story to tell as a fond remembrance of your trip to historic Savannah.
Just think of the souvenir possibilities! When you shop the local establishments in downtown Savannah it really is like you’re taking a bit of the city back home with you. The bits that remind you of the friendly places, laugh-out-loud moments, colorful characters and historic soul of a city whose charm stays with you long after your return trip home. And if you ever find yourself needing to restock or refresh your Savannah finds you can always ‘add to cart’ for sweet memories delivered to your door; now that’s what I call modern-day Southern hospitality.
By: Heather Grant, Contributing Writer