September 6-8, 2013
Orange County Convention Center
Board Demo Day: September 5
Everyone knows somebody who is impossible to shop for. That’s exactly why Megan and Erastus Corning decided to carry some of the hardest to find, most original gifts when they opened The Silver Puffin in Charleston, South Carolina in 1996
Charleston, South Carolina
By Shelby Stanger
Everyone knows somebody who is impossible to shop for. That’s exactly why Megan and Erastus Corning decided to carry some of the hardest to find, most original gifts when they opened The Silver Puffin in Charleston, South Carolina in 1996.
“Megan and I make a real effort to carry off-the-path type things no one else has,” says Erastus. “We have things from local artisans or things you wouldn’t find unless you went across the globe to get them.”
Well-traveled themselves, prior to opening The Silver Puffin, Megan and Erastus lived in upstate New York and sold rare goods they collected from around the world at craft fairs. They loved the idea of having their own shop, and loved even more the possibility of ditching the snow.
Since Charleston, South Carolina has warm weather, great shopping and is also home to some of the nicest humans on earth, moving to Charleston and opening the shop in 1996 was the best decision they made.
Located in a historic building on iconic, historic King Street, The Silver Puffin carries a wide range of items like locally made jewelry, ceramic dishes by brands like PENZO, pottery from Zimbabwe, and rare napkins.
“We also have a lot of dog and cat things because we really like dogs and cats,” laughs Erastus.
Erastus and Megan like all animals, actually. They named the shop after a puffin because, “They are one of the cutest animals around,” says Megan. They also liked the originality of the name, especially in a town where most stores are named after something Charleston.
While The Silver Puffin has now been in business for seventeen years, the couple purchased a nearby existing business called Barton’s in 2006.The two shops are the perfect companions to each other.
While The Silver Puffin carries products that are more breakable and a bit more expensive, Barton’s specializes in rare toys, candy, locally made food items and greeting cards.
Customers flock to Barton’s from miles away to get Carolina Rice, a variety of Carolina Grits, and even tea from the only tea planation in the U.S., the Charleston Tea Company.
“We really do go far afield to get items for our shop―I mean, even Surf Expo is out of the normal loop from South Carolina for us, but we find great beach items, toys like Woboba bouncing on water balls and lots of embroidered shirts for kids there,” says Megan.
“When people come in looking for that funny niche or shopping for that person who never likes anything and we can send them home with something they know that person will love, that’s the best feeling,” she added. “That’s what makes it all worth it.”
The only thing that tops satisfying an impossible customer is the fact that for seventeen years of being open seven days a week (except for Christmas and Thanksgiving), the couple still works together and is happily married.
“Years ago Megan and I wanted to do something together, and we have managed to do it without strangling each other for seventeem of them,” laughs Erastus. “To me, that’s the greatest and most special thing about all of this.”
Email to a friend
* required fields
* required fields