Wright Square is the just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Downtown Savannah’s shopping district, where wonderful antique shops, cafes and boutiques open to squares and parks all over the city. At Wright Square, just one block away from the popular Broughton Street, we’ve found three unique shops, each offering a little something different.
Magnolia’s of Savannah
This unique gift shop has been on Bull Street for years, always catching the eye of passersby with their window display of Halloween spooks that’s up year-round. At Magnolia’s of Savannah, you’ll find all kinds of things, from collectibles to graphic t-shirts (“Boo, y’all”) to Savannah label wine.
“Our goal is to be a friendly store,” Manager Tammie Huffstutler said. “Here, each customer can find a special something for everyone on their list, including themselves!”
She works diligently to keep the store stocked with local and regional artists’ wares, such as Lori Mitchell’s papier mâché figurines, Kim Corell’s all-natural toiletries and Jim Chirbas’s ceramics. It’s also Huffstutler job to make sure that there’s always a large amount of Bird Girl official replicas about – a popular reminder of Savannah’s charm.
Magnolia’s, aware of Savannah’s haunting reputation, has a Halloween room no matter the season, where they display lenticular pictures – at first, you’ll see a Victorian portrait, but upon a closer look the sitter becomes a nasty ghoul. There are cackling witches and cute vampire figurines ready to greet any visitors.
The store is also the jumping off point to touring Savannah, on horse-drawn carriage or trolley.
“We want people to understand that they are missing out on something great if they do not take at least one tour while in Savannah,” Huffstutler said.
There’s no need to say it: Savannah loves dogs. It’s no surprise, then, that Oliver Bentley’s, a business dedicated to giving your best friend organic, all-natural, gluten-free treats, would have started out in Savannah.
Eric Zimmerman, owner (of the shop and of two sweet pups), bakes the treats himself and confesses to having a couple with his coffee every morning. The biscuits and biscuit bites are made for dogs with sensitive digestion, with no additives or fillers. It’s a simple combination of fresh ginger, Savannah Bee Company honey and molasses.
“All the products are baked here and paw-stamped here,” Zimmerman said. “Then, we ship them all over.”
The store on York Street distributes to larger retailers like Whole Foods, Woof Gang Bakery and even Savannah Bee Company. Former Savannah visitors order Oliver Bentley’s biscuits and bites online from all over the globe. Zimmerman attributes this to the highly international tourist community that flocks through Savannah every year and the diversity of its residents.
In part because of this, and because of dedicated dog-lovers travelling with their dogs, Zimmerman founded the Oliver Bentley’s Historic Dog Tour, a walking dog tours for you and your pet guided by accredited tour-guides and their own puppies.
The newest addition to the Wright Square area, The Olfactory seeks to make their customers feel – and smell – fantastic.
Owners Jennifer Armstrong and Mark Rojas have created a store that, with its rustic decoration and custom-made counter, echoes of the Old World, where Armstrong lived for 20 years. When the couple started out with their first store in Coconut Grove, Florida, Armstrong’s vision was clearly inspired in her time in the continent.
Rojas said, “She wanted things that she loved and missed that you can’t just readily get in this country.”
And they’ve done it. The Olfactory is the one place in Savannah where you’ll find bar soaps and scents made by the monks of Santa Maria Novella or a bottle of Number Six After Shave by Caswell-Massey, the same aftershave George Washington used back in the day. Scottish spices are stacked on the counter, next to edible rose petals and infused salts, and to the back working Victorian telephones are on display while antique wooden toys sit on a shelf waiting to be played with.
“My hope is that people feel removed from the everyday shopping experience, and that they are immersed in the sights and scents here,” Armstrong said. “We have had a very warm reception to Savannah, and so look forward to our future here.”