Myrtle Beach Shopping: The Hammock Shops
The Hammock Shops
Once you’ve been to the Hammock Shops, you’ll understand what many of the other outdoor shopping complexes on the Strand are attempting to imitate. Just to see it is an experience; we even considered including it in the Attractions chapter, but its function as a shopping destination cements its place here. In 1889 John Joshua Ward, a young riverboat captain who shipped supplies up and down the Waccamaw River from Pawleys Island to Georgetown and Charleston, created the first Pawleys Island hammock. In an attempt to find relief from the scratchy straw mattresses then used on river barges, he first tried working with canvas, then knotted string; but both were as uncomfortable as the straw. What finally evolved was a hammock of soft cotton rope—woven, rather than knotted, and held open by use of a curved “spreader bar.” The new design allowed air to circulate, making the hammock far cooler and more comfortable than the scratchy straw beds. And the spreader bar lent a gentle curve, keeping the soft weave from collapsing inward. This concept behind the famous Pawleys Island hammock spawned a design faithfully retained for more than 100 years. Ward taught the intricacies of the pattern to his brother-inlaw, A. H. “Cap’t Doc” Lachicotte, and soon the Lachicottes and Wards were busy making hammocks for family members and friends. In the late 1930s “Doc” set up a small shop on US 17 to sell the hammocks to travelers, and that modest business became the nucleus around which today’s famed Hammock Shops at Pawleys Island sprang up. The Lachicottes remain one of the most prominent families on the South Strand and head a real-estate conglomerate on Pawleys Island. Quaint might be an overused adjective, but it is truly appropriate when applied to the Hammock Shops. This clutch of retail establishments is the kind of place you can return to again and again, finding something new and unique each time. Two dozen shops, many offering the work of Carolina artists and craftspeople, are now clustered beneath mossdraped trees on the edge of a beautiful salt marsh. Some occupy historic Lowcountry buildings that include an original post office and schoolhouse. The newer shops are careful not to compromise the mood of the original architecture; they feature old beams, used timber, and ballast brick. Clearly this complex is a welcome respite from the razzle and dazzle of Myrtle Beach. But this little complex features much more than beautiful nature scenes and great hammocks. You will also find gourmet foods at the Carolina Gourmet, wildlife prints at the Audubon Shopping Gallery, handcrafted jewelry and contemporary clothing at Three Feathers Gallery, toys and gifts for the child in all of us at Hollipops, and a host of other distinctive and unusual items. If you want a genuine taste of local color without the neon, glitter, and paved parking lots with numbered rows, then you must visit the Hammock Shops. Springtime visits offer the extraordinary beauty of blooming azaleas, dogwoods, and tulip trees. Around Christmas the trees sparkle with tiny white lights, and all the stores don holiday finery, making the holiday season a particularly enjoyable time to visit.