A close up of one of the products sold in the second Sunday market. (Merritt Rast)
A close up of one of the products sold in the second Sunday market.

Merritt Rast

“Second Sunday” a smashing hit

October 19, 2021

Church bells chime high above the horizon, the smell of home cooked meals drift through the air, and sailboats glide through the harbor water like it’s made of glass as businesses start flipping the “closed” signs around and the city slowly comes alive. 

For some people, Sunday means gathering around in a backyard for a post-church cookout, but for tourists, Charleston locals, and business owners alike, the last day of the week comes along with the decade-old tradition of Second Sunday. 

Making its grand return in September of 2021 after an 18 month hiatus due to COVID-19, Second Sunday draws people in from all over the state to shop, watch live music performances, and meet new people. With King Street being closed to cars and only open to pedestrians and vendors, the tradition is deeply rooted in the heart of the Charleston community and serves as an opportunity for the South Carolina city to present itself in a sociable and welcoming manner. 

“With Charleston being such a tourist based city, I think it helps sort of open up the community a little bit. It brings people out of stores and has everyone interacting in person, it keeps people outdoors, and I think it’s a great thing,” said Elizabeth Hollerith, the Managing Editor of Evening Post Books. 

With Charleston being such a tourist based city, I think it helps sort of open up the community a little bit. It brings people out of stores and has everyone interacting in person, it keeps people outdoors, and I think it’s a great thing”

— Elizabeth Hollerith

With the city starting to interact openly after the 18 month break period, many citizens and business owners have expressed their concerns in regards to COVID-19 hitting a record spike once again. Since Second Sunday is an outdoor event, there is no mask mandate put in place for the participants. While there is a sense of appreciation for the normalcy beginning to return, there is also a looming apprehension.

“It’s definitely something that the town really loves, but at the same time there is that worry of the pandemic still there,” said Angelica, an employee at Savannah Bee Company on King Street. 

Despite the fear of a COVID-19 return, the Second Sunday tradition is a blessing for local businesses and the local economy alike. After a year and a half of the monthly event being cancelled, store owners and employees are thrilled to hear about the business opportunities that present themselves during Second Sunday. 

“It’s definitely going to give tourists more of a reason to come back, we make tons of sales on Second Sunday so it really helps economically, helping with businesses and that sort of thing. It just does bring so much life in and so many people in,” said Sebastian Blevins, an employee at Woof Gang Bakery and a student at The College of Charleston. 

With an estimated 15,000-20,000 visitors per Second Sunday, the ripple effect of the crowd has caused more concerns in regards to The College of Charleston and events that could be impacted on the campus, which is located in the heart of Charleston. 

“Things that happen on King Street are going to affect things on campus, but it’s kind of a risk that’s a little complicated,” said Blevins.

 The importance of bringing in business and contributing to the tourism industry in Charleston is something that existed during the height of the pandemic all throughout 2020, but it is a relief for many to see that the city is slowly reaching an equilibrium of safety and necessary business practices. 

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