Per Conde Nast Traveler, Charleston is the #1 Friendliest City

One reader put it perfectly: “People speak to each other!" (Ha. All those poor Northeasterners not used to a 'hello' on the street.) "The city is so lovely and easy to get around on foot.” “Charleston is by far my favorite city!," says another reader. "It has the charm of the South, the sophistication of the city, and a warmth and friendliness that is unmatched.”

"Everything in Charleston is perfectly designed for visitors to be comfortable, safe, and well taken care of," said another. In short, even as the city grows, Southern hospitality lives.

Getty Charleston area No. 1 in nation for dogs; 68% of households own one

Jul 18 2016 6:00 am

Man’s best friend has landed Charleston at the top of another list.

According to, the Holy City and its surrounding beaches are No. 1 when it comes to dogs.


The ranking is based on the percentage of households that own a dog; number of dog parks, trails and beaches; number of dog-friendly restaurants and bars; number of pet service providers; and affordable dog-walkers.The report says 68 percent of households in the Charleston area own a dog.

“The rapport between humans and dogs in Charleston goes way back, long before the city was named one of the most dog-friendly cities by,” according to “Poogan’s Porch, one of the city’s oldest restaurants, was named after the dog that began parking himself on the, um, porch in 1976. After being adopted by the owner, Poogan served as the restaurant’s official greeter.”

The report goes on to say, “Apart from dog parks and trails, dogs can also enjoy the area’s five dog-friendly beaches. Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island beaches even allow them to go off-leash at certain hours (depending on the season). The beloved Yappy Hour summer music series at James Island County Park features music and beverages for dog owners and their pups all summer long. You can even take your hound with you on an old Charleston Ghost Tour! For protection, of course.”

The report says 54.4 million, or 44 percent of, households in America, own at least one dog, according to the American Pet Products Association survey. Those with cats come in at 35 percent.

People also spare no expense when it comes to pets. Spending on pets more than doubled from 2001 to 2015, going from $28.5 billion to $60.28 billion, according to the APPA.



Travel+Leisure names Charleston #1 in US and Canada for 3rd year in a row!

“It’s not easy to win anything three years in a row, but Charleston clearly keeps on delivering one of the most satisfying travel experiences in the US and the world.” —Nathan Lump, Travel + Leisure Editor-in-Chief.

Among the top 10 cities in the world, Charleston came in second place to Kyoto, Japan with cities judged on "sites and landmarks, culture and arts, restaurants and food, people and value." according to the Charleston tourism agency.

Kiawah Island took 5th place in Top Islands in the Continental US and Canada while the Sanctuary resort was ranked #19 in the top resorts category.

Post & Courier article in Sunday July 5


Artists find creative ways to use sweetgrass as part of household decor

By Helen Mitternight

Special to The Post and Courier

Jul 4 2015 4:00 pm

Barbara Manigault uses sweetgrass to trim a clock. 

Sweetgrass baskets are as Charleston as pimento cheese and shrimp and grits. But if you’re trying to decorate your Lowcountry house, there may be only so many baskets you can distribute throughout your home without looking like ... well, a basket case.

Fortunately, there are sweetgrass crafts beyond the traditional basket and they still bear the heart and art of the sweetgrass culture. In fact, some of them qualify as fine art. Like any good art, the pieces are a reflection of the artists who created them.

The Traditonalist

Barbara Manigault of Mount Pleasant learned the art of sweetgrass weaving by the time she was nine years old from her mother, who is one of 20 children, and from her grandmother, the mother of the 20.

“We were all very close. It was like having two mothers,” she says. “My mother was the oldest, and so I would have aunts and uncles who were the same age I was.”

Weaving was a way to make a little extra money while Manigault worked at Roper Hospital. But it was difficult to keep a job when she never knew when her son’s school would call and say that she had to pick him up after another asthma attack.

By 1997, she had left Roper and started weaving sweetgrass with her grandmother as a full-time job. She says she was surprised at what a good living one could make.

“I told my grandmother, ‘I didn’t know you make this kind of money,’ and my grandmother said, ‘Yeah, baby, and if you make larger baskets, you make larger money.’ ”

Soon, at her grandmother’s urging, she was looking beyond baskets at other household items and she began making napkin rings, picture frames, even lamps. Her husband Raymond has joined in.

“Raymond would look at something I did and say, ‘That don’t look right.’ And I would tell him to be quiet,” she says. “But then, after 23 years, he told me his mama had taught him to weave and I said, ‘OK, you can make me some bottoms.’ But he said, ‘Oh, no, I do my own.’ The first thing he did was a traditional sewing basket. I was quite impressed. I said, ‘You mean all this time, you could have been working with me?’ Now, when I get too many orders, I give him some. And he does lamps and other things.”

The two have been in business together for 15 years, and they can be found at the Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square every Saturday.

In addition to the traditional baskets, Manigault offers clocks, mirrors, picture frames and lamps. Her prices range from about $35 for a small picture frame to closer to $450 for a clock. Two Meeting Street Inn uses her sweetgrass napkin rings in the dining room and sells to guests who want to take the fine weaving home with them.

The sweetgrass comes from men who brave the snakes and bees in Bluffton every June and July before hunting season starts to bring back the dried sweetgrass. Lately, though, Manigault has been buying her own sweetgrass plants as a hedge against the day when the grasses are cut down to make way for Bluffton development. The plants along the highways in Charleston are too thick to make her more delicate crafts such as earrings, so she says she may have to produce her own sweetgrass one day.

The new guy

Joseph Albano moved to Mount Pleasant from New Jersey almost four years ago when he had to take a buyout package from a large health care company. He brought his wife, his son, and later, his elderly parents.

Albano doesn’t golf or fish. He thought about consulting, but after he saw the basket sellers, he wanted to do something with sweetgrass to promote his adopted home. For some reason he still can’t explain, he had a vision of a furniture knob that incorporated sweetgrass.

He bought a knob from a do-it-yourself site online and was fiddling with it when his wife brought home a bookmark she found at Barbara Manigault’s stand. The sweetgrass charm dangling off the bookmark was the perfect size. He snipped it off and popped it into the knob. Perfect fit.

“This is exactly what I’ve been seeing in my head,” he told his wife. “That’s the vision.”

He immediately stopped looking for a retirement activity and began to make his dream a reality. His first step was to look for a better knob source.

Brad Williams, owner of Charleston Hardware Store, wound up being his source.

The next step was to find the weavers. That proved tricky. Sweetgrass weavers are used to making products that vary by material and mood. Albano needed consistency and precision.

He talked to several weavers, including Manigault, who directed him to other weavers who specialized in miniatures, such as Adell Swinton.

“I told (the weavers) that I need a model-like production. They have to fit. I will give you the specs, I will give you a prototype. I will reject some of them, so there will be some waste,” he said.

It was a new model and many, including Manigault, told him the precision would not be worth their time. Eventually, he settled on Swinton and two other weavers who could do precise work with a tiny weave. He pays the weavers cash on delivery for the tiny sweetgrass inlays, and then he and his wife assemble them by hand.

“I use a bezel setting and I use the glue the weavers told me to use,” Albano says. “I force the weave in and it makes a little popping sound when it falls into place.”

The knobs and drawer pulls are available at Bird Decorative Hardware & Bath in Charleston and Foxworth Decorative Hardware in Mount Pleasant, as well as on his website, The knobs retail for $29 and the pulls for $59.

Albano also makes a sweetgrass-topped stainless steel winestop for $39.99 that is sold at several kitchen and lifestyle stores in the area.

The spiritualist

Georgette Wright Sanders of McClellanville weaves sweetgrass as an accent to the pottery she makes. She names every piece and each piece contains an inspirational message.

Sanders says her combination of pottery with sweetgrass is unique.

“It’s a marriage of the natural fibers being rended from the earth and clay embracing one another and celebrating their own uniqueness,” she says.

She began, as so many sweetgrass artists do, with baskets, but says she “had a vision” of combining pottery with sweetgrass. Her husband invested by buying her a potter’s wheel, and she turned her pantry into a small studio.

To honor her vision, Sanders would call her company, “By His Designs Legacies Tied By Nature” and she believes that each design has a bit of divine inspiration.

Sanders was taught traditional sweetgrass weaving by her family, but she evolved to weave with less traditional materials. Pottery was a whole new venture. She taught herself how to create pottery by reading books, poring over Internet sites and watching countless YouTube videos. Eventually, she decided to create her own glaze.

“I wanted to know what was safe, what was unsafe,” she recalls of her research. “Being a person who has respiratory problems, I wanted to know what my body was being subjected to. I wanted to safeguard myself.”

That was almost nine years ago and Sanders has since sold not only at the farmers market but also at the City Market and to private collectors. Sanders says she has sold pieces to people on every continent and her creations, which range from $15 for a small piece to several hundred dollars, have been in many local museums and galleries.

But not every customer understands the art of sweetgrass decor.

As Manigault says, “Some folks see the grass and they don’t see the work of art. I wish that everybody would be educated on what love has been put into some of this work.”

    Charleston Magazine debuts Coastal Touch and its Sweetgrass Cabinet Knobs

    The July edition of Charleston Magazine which has captured Charleston's style, character, and beauty for more than 35 years, has included photos of Coastal Touch's Sweetgrass knobs in its Channel Marker section on page 56.

    Charleston magazine is the authority on living well in the Lowcountry and by adding this debut announcement to its pages has launched our quintessential, Charleston product line to approximately 200,000 (average readership per month).

    Thank You Charleston Magazine...


    EA from Houston, Texas

    Here's what EA had to say:

    "I thought the sweetgrass inserts were done perfectly. Given the grass the possibility of a stray piece of grass was expected. I found no stray pieces of grass on any of the knobs I received. Each knob is one of a kind and the way the color variation of the sweetgrass is done is lovely.
    The finish of the metal compared to the knobs I bought for the kitchen were definitely a finer, more intense bronze tone. The kitchen knobs were a more orangey bronze.

    The packing of the knobs with the individual attention to each knob was appreciated. It showed the care of the product making sure each item was damage free.
    We were not able to cut the screws down. Being in the new house we find we are without many tools we had at the other house. My husband tried to break it off with a plier with no luck. I think a hacksaw would be needed.
    All in all I think you have cornered a very clever, unique cabinet knob market. I cannot wait for the pulls which I think will be stunners."