A cool little neighborhood shop opened September 2012 in Mount Pleasant called Shades of Charleston. It’s not a chain store, but a locally owned sunglass shop by Charlestonian, Steve Cordina. He came from a large Catholic family who were all competitive water skiers, including his dad, Walt.
Born and raised in Charleston, sunglasses had been a part of Steve’s life since 1979. The “business” began while in college when he became one of the founding members of the University of South Carolina Water Ski Team. This team traveled across the Southeast to compete, and when his parents gave him a pair of sunglasses to wear at the tournaments to protect his eyes, Shades of Charleston began to evolve. Competitors would always ask, “Where did you get those sunglasses?” The brand was Bucci, and Steve quickly acquired the dealership. He set up a small sunglass stand at every tournament to help pay his way through college.
With graduation behind him, Steve made his way back to Charleston with a promising career in sales and marketing, but “The Bucci Man” kept selling sunglasses out of his home and literally from the trunk of his car. The business kept growing and the money helped sponsor the travel needed to keep competing in water ski tournaments, which later included his two sons, Steven Jr. and Brandon.
While cycling one day in 2011, Steve noticed the vacant building which had formerly been an Ameri-Gas propane shop. After a demographic study, he pursued a life-long dream of owning his own freestanding sunglass specialty shop. “My thought process was, if we are going to do this, we will do it right… with Charleston’s best selection of sunglasses.”
Steve bought the building, and after six months of extensive renovations by his brother, Dave Cordina, owner of Diversified Concepts, the store opened in September of 2012. “It came out just as I had imagined it…very cool…it has recycled rubber flooring that looks like white washed wood, wooden pallets were torn apart to cover the back wall, unique lighting fixtures were added, and great colors for wall paint were chosen, it has such a warm feel.”
The name is, Shades of Charleston, Sunglasses and Accessories Since 1979. Shades, the largest premium dealer in the area for Costa, Maui Jim, Ray-Ban, & Smith, and the total collection of polarized sunglasses are the largest in the state.
Brand names include; Costa, Maui Jim, Ray-Ban, Smith, Kaenon, Oakley, SunCloud, Native, Tom Ford, Oliver Peoples Persol, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, and Clic Readers. You might even find an old pair of Bucci’s lying around! In 2016 with the help of my two sons Steven Jr. and Brandon we ventured to expand to Sullivan’s Island with a shop on Middle Street. The shop is small but unique, packed with a great selection of sunglasses and beach necessities. Located a couple streets from the beach it attracts locals and tourist all year long.
That’s not all…the shop in Mount Pleasant expanded in 2017 to grow our optical side. In the Shades Optical side we can fill prescription sunglasses and clear prescription glasses for everyday use. We staff a full time Optician that has been in the market for over 25 years. With lots of optical experience please feel free to stop in for an introduction to Camille Johnstone.
“Our concept is…if you’re on the water, we’ve got you covered. Along with our extensive sunglass selection, you’ll find Free Fly Apparel, OluKai Flip Flops, Shades Hats, Sun Bum sunscreen and hundreds of eyeglass retainers. Go check out Shades of Charleston when you’re out and about or on the web at ShadesofCharleston.com. On most days, you’ll find the doors open, music playing, and some extreme sports showing on the TV. And these guys know their sunglasses! Remember…it’s a family owned business and you’ll probably find Steve or one of the boys Steven Jr. or Brandon working. They could also give you some great water ski tips! So go get your shades on!