In 1981, only ten or so years after the completion of the Harbor Town Lighthouse, a store popped on the scene.
The idea for a “camp-like” shop manifested as a round, rustic hut with little protection from the elements but wraparound screens. Camp Hilton Head tapped into the sense that Hilton Head was much like a camp for families. It offers designs that reflect the Island’s beloved wildlife, activities and landmarks. Says Director of Operations Alex Brown (who started there as a teenager!).
“The atmosphere back then really was just like being at camp —our employees were called ‘counselors’ for years — you could go crabbing, beach- combing, sailing, swimming, hiking or biking. Hilton Head was (and still is!) a paradise for those who love to be outdoors.”
This unassuming little hut, which has remained essentially unchanged since the early 80s, is Camp Hilton Head’s very first store, and it’s celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2021!
Nowadays, the huts at the base of the now world-famous lighthouse (best known as Harbour Town #1 and #2) are destinations in themselves. The merchandise within has dictated the Island’s most desired styles for decades, and features designs for everyone’s favorite thing about Hilton Head: the cycling or sailing, the sea turtles or dolphins, the dog-friendliness or the bird- watching, its golf courses or tennis courts.
“We are very proud of our exclusive designs,” says VP of Merchandising Vicky Panhans.
She has been with the company for 29 years, and though it’s grown, the focus has remained the same. “The quality of our merchandise is top-notch, but we also work really hard to pass whatever savings we can on to our customers, who are extremely loyal. We want everyone to be able to ‘Take Hilton Head Home,’ so we outfit infants, grandparents and everyone in between!”
“Our motto is something we really take to heart,” agrees Brown. Keeping patrons connected to treasured moments through souvenirs like shirts, shorts, pants, hats, glassware and jewelry is a real source of pride for the Camp Hilton Head team. “This is a local, family-owned business, and many of our managers have been with the company for over 20 years. Because the quality of our products is so high, we know you will reach for them again and again.”
Camp Hilton Head currently has five convenient locations between Bluffton and Hilton Head.
A store exists in Harbour Town #1 and #2 and in Coligny Plaza. Two shops go under the Hilton Head Shirt Company banner. one is in The Fresh Market Shoppes and the other at Tanger Outlets. Stores are open seven days a week, but hours vary based on the season, so be sure to call ahead or check camphiltonhead.com for the latest. If your vacation suitcase is already over-stuffed, fear not — we proudly offer nationwide shipping to ensure that your memories arrive home safely!
Camp Hilton Head #1 & #2
149 Lighthouse Rd.
Hilton Head Island
By Dani Ray