If nothing else, the new Tanger Outlets at Centre Pointe will add more muscle to North Charleston’s already pumped-up shopping scene. Home to the new Shoppes at Centre Pointe, Northwoods Mall, and a profusion of big-box stores, the city is the state’s dominant retail mecca.

“It makes it a lot easier to sell North Charleston,” said Judy Parsons, sales director for the nearby Hilton Garden Inn. — The Post and Courier, Sun. July 30

North Charleston, S.C. — Residents of this oft-maligned industrial hamlet just up the road from its tony, touristy cousin woke up today with a new spring in their step and their noses in the air. Some may have even felt an urge for midday tea. The opening of a 90-store outlet mall in the posh new commercial district known as Centre Pointe has made North Charleston the envy of down-at-the-heels sister cities everywhere. But it’s not the outlet mall that has residents giving their faux leather saddlebags a spit-shine — it’s a pair of otherwise innocuous vowels in the name of their resplendent new shopping Shangri La.

North Charleston has apparently leapfrogged over hundreds of similarly dismal digs to become one of the classiest destinations in the nation — all because of two “e”s.

“Class. Pure damn class, that’s what that name says,” observed Shuffield “Shuf” Gint, a North Charleston motorcycle mechanic, of Centre Pointe, a name he says denotes sophistication, elegance, and respectability. “Me and my baby was ridin’ down I-26 on our way to the new Wal-Mart the other day, and I looked up at that big-ass billboard, right next to the Hooters one, and I saw it — ‘Centre Pointe.’ And right then, I realized: we did it. We finally made it. You can’t laugh at North Charleston no more. We got the respect of the world now.”

The transformation happened almost overnight. North Charlestonians had been largely unaware of their newly elite status until the opening of the Tanger Outlet mall in Centre Pointe last weekend. Only then, while indulging themselves in the bounty of stores such as the Fudgery and Cost Cutters, did many become aware that their squalid stretch of disconnected industrial sprawl had suddenly become an aristocratic urban paradise with a pedigree that dates to medieval England.

“All of a sudden I feel like I’m living in London or Paris or Europe or something,” laughed Sugar Enspice, a North Chuck exotic dancer and sometime fry chef who’s currently “between jobs.”

Residents acknowledged that some might question whether a pair of superfluous “e”s could by themselves bestow world-class stylishness on a city comprised mainly of fast-food joints, strip malls, gas stations, and diesel exhaust. Doubters, however, are referred to a trump card: a third “e,” found in a cluster of retailers in the middle of Centre Pointe known collectively as The Shoppes at Centre Pointe.

“That’s three “e”s — three of ’em!” exulted Swain Lipthizzle, coming out of the nearby Sam’s Club with a year’s supply of Hot Pockets. “I mean, come on, you don’t get any classier than that!”

“You can’t touch three ‘e’s,” agreed Bo Phillips, a coin-operated laundromat manager. “Plus, that’s not even counting the other ‘e’ in Centre, the one at the front — and just forget about the one in the The, there at the beginning of The Shoppes at Centre Pointe,” he added. “We don’t even need that one. It’s like gravy. They’re just keeping it in reserve, for, like, emergencies or something.”

The phenomenon is evidently gaining steam. One North Charleston city councilmember has openly suggested changing the city’s name to Northe Charlestowne, and some residents are hoping that Centre Pointe ownership might manage to lure yet another ultra-high-end retailer to the area: Ye Olde Fashioned Ice Cream Shoppe.

“That’d be the shit, for sure,” nodded Phillips, between tobacco spits. “We might as well all wear tuxedos to work after that.”

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