Some people spend their sandy Saturdays running around with bocce balls, wooden paddles, even volleyball nets. Others prefer to set up camp next to an overflowing cooler, rising only to pee in the ocean, until every last can of beer has been crushed and tossed in the trash.
Whatever your idea of a perfect day at the beach is, you'll need a headquarters to supply yourself. Here are our favorites.
Bert's Market, Folly Beach
201 East Ashley Ave.
Bert's is an institution in transition. Yes, it's still the place that barefoot, semi-homeless 45-year-old men stumble into at 8 a.m. for a 12-pack of Natty Light, but it's also a haven for budget-beer snobs as well. Immediately upon entering the store, you can't help but notice the six-keg growler station, where you'll even find beers not available on tap anywhere else in town, like Weyerbacher's Insanity barleywine; heck, you can even fill a growler with PBR for $5 — wow! In addition to stocking over 200 wine varieties, the shop has redecorated as well, with a badass mural by Sheepman on the outside wall, featuring Bert as Captain Hook, and a new metal store sign by Nick the Torch. They've even got an impressive local produce and organic section and sushi now, but don't worry — a loaded hot dog with chili is still just 75 cents.
Island Time Beach Shop, Isle of Palms
1011 Ocean Blvd.
Set slightly apart from the kitsch of IOP's main tourist drag, Island Time feels like it ought to be out on Folly. It drips with character, from the surfboard awnings to the boiled peanuts they slow-cook overnight. Rent a rod and reel for $20 all day or check out the selection of consignment surfboards. Walls are adorned with an array of local art, from hand-carved wooden fish to seascape oil paintings. Pick up a CD by a local artist at the register, or grab a beach-read paperback off the shelf for $1. Island Time is the type of place where the tides and water temperature are scratched daily onto the wall, because these things matter to the people that frequent the place.
The Co-Op, Sullivan's Island
2019 Middle St.
Want to plan an impressive first date? Find a blanket, stop by the Co-Op, and make a reservation in the sand dunes below the Sullivan's Island lighthouse. Your date will be dancing in your arms by sunset. This new gourmet one-stop carries everything you need for a classy beach picnic, much of it from local farms and suppliers. High-gravity microbrews line the cooler, next to shelves stocked with jams, preserves, and fancy pickles. The stand-outs are their panini, salads, fully-prepared picnic baskets, and paper-bag lunches. Heck, you can slice up a quiche and homemade pie on the beach if you're so inclined. A word of warning: the dozen or so jars of candy on display by the register at toddler-eye-level will have little hands tugging at your pant legs until you cave.
The Red and White, Isle of Palms
1513 Palm Blvd.
At first glance, the Isle of Palms Supermarket is just an old grocery store, with cardboard signs advertising $2.99 pork chops in the gray windows. Step inside and re-enter a bygone era. Only the old Piggly Wiggly on Edisto Beach can rival this store's classic vibe, from the seagulls painted on the wall to the white, Styrofoam surfboards for sale next to the apples and carrots. Beach chairs sit atop the dairy section, and the end-of-aisle displays boast kites, T-shirts, Gulp! bait, and fishing line. Fortunately, the store's food and drink inventory stays up-to-date, and their prices for microbrews like Dogfish Head and Dale's Pale Ale are among the best in town. Finally, for one-stop shopping, the island's liquor store is right next door. But remember, no booze on the beach on IOP.