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Sleep King – Where the Prices Are a Sweet Dream!

There are a lot of mattress companies in South Carolina that claim to have the perfect mattress for everyone. At Sleep King, we believe that every person is different and has different needs when it comes to their mattress. That’s why our mattress store in Isle of Palms, SC, has a wide variety of beds and brands to choose from. That way, you can find the right mattress for your body and get the very best sleep quality possible.

As a family-owned and operated mattress store with more than 40 years of experience in the sleep industry, we know a thing or two about comfortable mattresses. Isle of Palms residents choose Sleep King because we provide our customers with a personalized shopping experience. When you walk through our showroom doors, we want you to feel comfortable – both on our mattresses and with our store associates. At Sleep King, you won’t ever have to worry about pushy salespeople and limited selection. Instead, you will discover that we encourage you to take your time as you search for your next bed. Sleep is incredibly important, and by proxy, finding the right mattress for your body type is too.

When you visit our showroom in Isle of Palms, know that we are a full-service store with mattress experts ready to help. From questions about mattresses and their warranties to financing and mattress delivery, there’s no question we haven’t heard before.

We carry some of the most popular brands in America, and unlike other mattress stores in Isle of Palms, offer them at the lowest prices around, guaranteed. There’s a reason why we were voted your #1 mattress store in the Lowcountry – because we truly care about our customers and their quality of sleep!

Looking for discounts? Need to buy your mattress on a strict budget? We’ve got you covered at our new mattress clearance center in Isle of Palms, where we have more than 50 models on display at 50-80% off retail value. Don’t forget to ask us about our flexible financing options, where no credit is needed to make a purchase. Paying cash? We’ll knock 5% off your bill!

As if that weren’t enough reason to visit, remember that we provide free delivery, setup, and removal of your old mattress for FREE when you make a purchase at Sleep king.

Why Choose Our Mattress
Store in Isle of Palms, SC?

Our business model is simple – give customers quality beds from national brands at amazing prices, coupled with unmatched customer service. We know that your sleep is essential but also understand that normal folks aren’t made of money. You need a solution that isn’t going to break the bank, which is why we offer up to 75% off our products.

When we say we have a bed for every budget, we’re serious.
A few of our mix and match deals include:

Sets Prize
Twin Mattress Sets Beginning at $99
Full Mattress Sets Beginning at $139
Queen Mattress Sets Beginning at $149
King Mattress Sets Beginning at $299

Of course, a mattress would be incomplete without a headboard, footboard, and rails. For queen mattresses, those items combined are only $199. At our mattress store, we pledge to beat any competitor’s price on similar product specs – guaranteed! Here are just a few of the benefits of shopping at Mattress King

  • *FREE* Bed Frame for Your New Bed*
  • *FREE* Same-Day Local Mattress Delivery to Your Home*
  • *FREE* Set-Up & Removal of Old Mattress from Your Home*
  • *FREE* Mattress Pad Included with New Mattress*
  • Rest Easy with Our 60-Day Comfort Guarantee
  • We Have the Best Selection of Mattresses in Isle of Palms with Five National Vendors
  • On-Time Delivery
  • Best Warranties in the Industry
  • Sleep King Will Beat Anyone’s Advertise Price by $50*(on purchases $299 and above)
  • 0% Financing for 48 Months (APR, With Approved Credit)
  • *See Store for Additional Details
Our Selection of National Mattress Brands

Our Selection of
National Mattress
Brands

At Sleep King, we carry the largest selection of high-quality national brand mattresses in Isle of Palms.

Sleep King Tempurpedic Mattresses

Sleep King Tempurpedic Mattresses

Often considered the best mattress brand in the world, innovation sets Tempurpedic mattresses apart from others. Our customers love Tempurpedic mattresses because they are expertly built through decades of research and rigorous testing. The folks at Tempurpedic are committed to precision, meaning every detail of product detail they push is geared towards the ultimate satisfaction and comfort.

Sleep King Serta iComfort Mattresses

Sleep King Serta iComfort Mattresses

Serta iComfort: Serta’s iComfort line of mattresses are multi-layered beds with cooling foam technology that adds resilience, support, and temperature control. The result is a cool, comfy sleep that leaves you refreshed and ready to attack the day.

Sleep King Simmons Beautysleep Mattresses

Sleep King Simmons Beautysleep Mattresses

Every mattress in the Simmons Beautysleep lineup has a great combo of support and comfort, making for a restful night’s sleep. With heavy-gauge coils and high-performance materials, these mattresses are durable and built to last. Be sure to try one of these mattresses out in our showroom – our customers love the pocketed coils and minimal motion transfer.

Sleep King Bed Boss Mattresses

Sleep King Bed Boss Mattresses

The Bed Boss brand is lesser known than some, like Tempurpedic. Still, it is a quality product with many foam and non-foam options that we think you’ll love. Choose from standard memory foam, hybrid, and innerspring options while visiting our showroom in Isle of Palms.

Tips on Choosing the Best Bed

There’s much more to choosing a good bed than how you think it will look in your bedroom. There’s plenty to think about, from innerspring options to memory foam and even hybrid mattresses. At Sleep King, our priority is our customers. We pride ourselves on excellent customer service. We want to do right by you, which why we want to be sure you find the perfect bed when you visit our mattress store in Isle of Palms, SC. To help you get started, here are a few tips on choosing the best bed for your sleep needs.

Visit a Showroom

Visit a Showroom

This tip might seem like a no-brainer to some, but it’s important that you visit a showroom so that you can lay on different beds to get a feel for what you like. At Mattress King, you will have the chance to explore different styles, designs, and shapes, and mattress materials. Finding a bed online at a price you can afford is great, but you should lie on the bed first, not just look at it on a screen.

Determine Budget

Determine Budget

Here’s a surprising fact: just because a mattress costs more money, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be a better bed. Sure, more expensive beds might have newer technologies and materials, but not everyone has the budget to walk into a mattress store in Isle of Palms and spend $3,000. Figure out what price range you’re comfortable paying and look at the best options for your bottom line.

Consider Bedroom Size

Consider Bedroom Size

Before you swing by our showroom and start trying out beds, it might be a good idea to measure the space where your new mattress will go. If your bedroom is on the small side, a king-sized bed might be too big. Similarly, a small bed in a huge room might make for strange aesthetics. Aim for a reasonable amount of room around your bed – enough where you can walk around comfortably. As mentioned above, get specific measurements of the area you plan to use. That way, you have peace of mind knowing your new mattress will fit in your bedroom.

Consider Bedroom Size

Choose a Mattress Material

This tip often comes down to personal preference. It will take a little bit of trial and error to figure out which material works best for your back – innerspring, memory foam, or latex. While your friend’s and family’s opinions matter, keep in mind that their mattress choice was subjective. What works for them won’t necessarily work for you.

Need a quick refresher on different mattress materials? Here’s a quick overview

Innerspring

Also called coil mattresses, innerspring beds are probably the most well-known on this short list. Innerspring mattresses are often more affordable than their latex and memory foam counterparts. These beds are ideal for people who want a lot of support and a cooler night’s sleep.

Latex

This material is known for its great cooling properties and overall comfort. With latex, there are no strange off-gassing odors like you sometimes get with memory foam. Latex mattresses are ideal for people who want a responsive, bouncy feel and may have problems sleeping hot.

Memory Foam

First developed by NASA in the 70s, memory foam is probably the most popular material in the modern mattress market. Memory foam conforms to every inch of your body, giving you maximum comfort and support. Memory foam is also know for its anti-motion properties. Memory foam can be a great choice if you tend to toss and turn at night and sleep with a partner who wakes up when you do. Memory foam mattresses are ideal for people who need pressure relief, good support, and refreshing comfort.

Think About Your Back

Think About Your Back

If you have a bad back, it’s crucial that you find a mattress with proper support. Slat and spring beds often offer plenty of support, but latex and memory foam options have come a long way. If you want memory foam or latex but find the support to be subpar, consider an adjustable base instead of a normal platform. That way, you can always sleep in a comfortable position that benefits your back.

Your Premier Furniture Store
Isle of Palms, SC

You read that right! Sleep King is the first choice for quality beds in Isle of Palms, but we also have a huge selection of furniture for your home. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for mattresses and furniture alike, you have come to the right place. If you’re shopping for a new mattress at the best price possible, why not throw in a bedroom suite at an amazing price too?

A few common furniture items that our customers love to add
to their mattress purchase include:

Living Room Sets – from traditional-style suites with classic textures to modern sets with attractive upholstery, we will help you find the best living room set for your home.

Bedroom Suites – our bedroom suites range from contemporary to classic and come in a variety of colors and styles to compliment your new mattress purchase.

Daybeds – from English-style daybeds available in espresso and cherry colors to multi-purpose beds with pull-out trundles, our selection of daybeds is unbeatable.

Futons – if you have younger children, they will love our futons. Who are we kidding? Adults do too! Futons are incredibly useful in small spaces and convert into comfy-cozy beds perfect for kids of all ages.

Bunkbeds – bunkbeds are another great option to consider if you have kids. Whether you have a classic-style home or an apartment, we have a style that fits you.

At Sleep King, we are proud to have the lowest prices in the Lowcountry

If you like what you see but don't have time to visit our mattress store in Isle of Palms, don’t worry. Our online store is bursting with new items and deals every day. From mattresses and bedding to furniture sets and special sale items, Mattress King has got it all. With the highest quality mattresses, the best prices in Isle of Palms, a giant showroom with all the options, and a full team of helpful sales associates, you won’t ever need to find another mattress and furniture store again!

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Latest News in Isle of Palms

Isle Of Palms Inauguration Sees New Mayor, Four Council Members

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye NewsThe newly-installed mayor of Isle of Palms wants to make a difference during his first term in office by encouraging residents of the island community to treat one another with kindness and respect – “two things that have fallen by the wayside in the past few years” – but he added during a brief presentation at IOP’s municipal inauguration Jan. 4 that “I will not be a pushover or think the world is all roses and rainbows, as some on social media might have sug...

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News

The newly-installed mayor of Isle of Palms wants to make a difference during his first term in office by encouraging residents of the island community to treat one another with kindness and respect – “two things that have fallen by the wayside in the past few years” – but he added during a brief presentation at IOP’s municipal inauguration Jan. 4 that “I will not be a pushover or think the world is all roses and rainbows, as some on social media might have suggested.” Mayor Phillip Pounds also told the overflow crowd at City Hall that he would host several events aimed at enhancing communication among government officials, business owners and local residents. Four new Council members also were inaugurated at the meeting, including Jan Anderson, John Bogosian, Blair Hahn and Katie Miars. “At some level, no matter our differences in values or opinions, we all want what’s best for our part of paradise,” Pounds said. “I’d like to believe that at our core, we prefer to engage in meaningful, respectful discussions when it comes to issues facing us all – issues I’m well aware we’re all passionate about in our own way.” “I did not survive and thrive in the corporate world for 35 years without rolling up my sleeves and standing my ground and fighting when needed. I will do the same for IOP, but every issue cannot be life or death,” he added.

“We must pick and choose our battles on the important issues that face us and learn to negotiate or compromise while we seek common ground with our surrounding and supporting partners.”

Pounds said he would host a “coffee with the mayor” at an IOP restaurant the final Friday of each month and that he would schedule regular office hours so residents, business owners and visitors will be able to ask questions and learn about ongoing city projects. He said a message from the mayor would be available on the city’s website and through social media “to provide context for decision-making and general updates.” In addition, he will continue holding quarterly meetings with members of the local business community. During the two days following the inauguration ceremony, Council members gathered for a retreat “to define what success will look like, discuss how we’ll treat each other and communicate with each other, receive some training from the South Carolina Municipal Association and review our Strategic Plan and Council Handbook to help create a unified team, all focused on the same agenda,” according to Pounds. At their first meeting of the new year following the inauguration ceremony, the new Council approved appointments to standing committees and to various boards and commissions. Council committees will consist of: Public Safety – Blair Hahn, Jan Anderson and Rusty Streetman; Real Property – Streetman, Kevin Popson and Katie Miars; Personnel – Anderson, John Bogosian and Pounds; Public Works – Jimmy Ward, Bogosian and Hahn; and Recreation – Miars, Ward and Popson. Scott Pierce, Marty Brown, Ron Denton and Suzanne Nagelski were appointed to the Planning Commission, while Arnold Karig and Glen Thornburg were named to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Michael Molony will be the city judge, David Michel the associate judge, Brent Halversen the city attorney and Mac McQuillin the assistant city attorney.

Ward was appointed to the CARTA board of directors; Streetman to the Charleston Visitors Bureau; and Anderson to the Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester Council of Governments. Bogosian was appointed as the liaison to the city’s Environmental Advisory Committee.

Restaurant Week 2022 in Charleston, SC

Charleston Restaurant Week is (almost) upon us, friends. This celebration, held Jan. 13-23, sheds light on local restaurants and provides the opportunity to try something new from Lowcountry favorites like 39 Rue de Jean, Halls Chophouse + MESU.If you’ve never experienced the holy grail of the Charleston food + bev industry that is Restaurant Week, you’ll need a bit of guidance, as the choice...

Charleston Restaurant Week is (almost) upon us, friends. This celebration, held Jan. 13-23, sheds light on local restaurants and provides the opportunity to try something new from Lowcountry favorites like 39 Rue de Jean, Halls Chophouse + MESU.

If you’ve never experienced the holy grail of the Charleston food + bev industry that is Restaurant Week, you’ll need a bit of guidance, as the choices can get overwhelming — though too many options is never a bad thing, right?

Different eateries offer special deals to encourage people to get out + dine in at local restaurants. With 40+ Charleston area restaurants participating, the hardest part will be choosing where to dine. We’re here to highlight a few of the participating restaurants and their Restaurant Week deals.

39 Rue de Jean, 39 John St. | 3 dinner courses for $45 | Stop by this brick-walled bistro + enjoy French classics and cocktails from the bar.

82 Queen, 82 Queen St. | 2 lunch courses for $20, 3 dinner courses for $40 | Not sold on the award-winning She Crab soup? Take a look at the jambalaya and get back to us.

Bourbon N’ Bubbles, 570 King St. | 3 dinner courses for $45 | We have to say, it’ll be hard to decide between the bruschetta + crispy tempura shrimp.

CO, 340 King St. | 3 dinner courses for $25 or 4 for $30 | Spicy crab rangoon with the option of a sake pairing? Sign us up.

Coast Bar & Grill, 39D John St. | 3 dinner courses for $45 | You can’t go wrong with any dish from this seafood eatery, but the surf & turf is definitely grabbing our attention.

Coastal Provisions, 200 Grand Pavilion Blvd., Isle of Palms | 3 dinner courses for $40 | Calling all gnocchi lovers: the sweet potato gnocchi dish looks ah-mazing.

FortyEight – Wine Bar & Kitchen, 547 Freshfields Dr., Kiawah Island | 3 dinner courses for $35 | There’s just something special about the ambiance of a wine bar. Pair it with the FortyEight Pimento Burger? We’re in.

Florence’s Lowcountry Kitchen, 90 Folly Rd Blvd., Ste B-4 | 2 lunch courses for $20, 3 dinner courses for $30 | This Lowcountry eatery has blessed us with two opportunities to enjoy its delicious Southern dishes. I’ll have an order of the shrimp & grits, please.

Frothy Beard Brewing Co.,1401 Sam Rittenberg Blvd.| 2 people for $30 | Pro tip: This brewery includes two pints of beer in its Restaurant Week deal.

Jalisco Taqueria & Tequila, 1217 Folly Rd. | Saturdays only: 3 lunch courses for $25, 3 dinner courses for $25 | Enchiladas, and salsa, and churros — oh my.

MESU, 570 King St. | 3 dinner courses for $25 | Can’t decide between Mexican + sushi? Grab an app of chips and guac before enjoying one sushi roll as your main course. Best of both worlds.

New Realm Brewery, 880 Island Park Dr. | 3 dinner courses for $30 | We can confirm that the Ultimate Wagyu Burger is worth the hype.

Swamp Fox Restaurant & Bar at Francis Marion Hotel, 387 King St. | 2 lunch courses for $20, 3 dinner courses for $40 | Enjoy all your Lowcountry favorites at this restaurant. We’re looking at you, hush puppy + deviled egg lovers.

The Salty Dog Cafe – Seabrook, 1882 Andell Bluff Blvd., Johns Island | 3 courses for 2 people for $50 | Looking for your fish ‘n’ chips fix? Look no further.

Virginia’s on King, 412 King St. | 2 for $15 brunch, 3 dinner courses for $30 | Mix it up and enjoy brunch at this popular spot, including a mimosa + your choice of a breakfast burrito or strawberry waffles.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re staying up to date on the restaurants’ latest COVID-19 updates and potential closures.

The best part? This isn’t all. Click here to see all 47 participating Charleston area restaurants + the deals they’re offering.

SC might make beaches provide free parking. Isle of Palms begs McMaster to veto bill

In a move that puts a South Carolina beach community at odds with both its neighbors and the state legislature, Isle of Palms voted Friday to oppose a state bill that would require free and unrestricted beach parking along state highways.The city’s resolution, which passed 7-0 during a special City Council meeting, carries no weight of law, but it does express the city’s di...

In a move that puts a South Carolina beach community at odds with both its neighbors and the state legislature, Isle of Palms voted Friday to oppose a state bill that would require free and unrestricted beach parking along state highways.

The city’s resolution, which passed 7-0 during a special City Council meeting, carries no weight of law, but it does express the city’s disapproval of a bill introduced by state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley.

The legislation would require South Carolina’s beach communities to provide at least some free parking on state roads.

It also would give towns the authority to include paid public beach parking and to use those funds to maintain, operate and preserve things like beach parking facilities; beach access, maintenance, and renourishment; traffic and parking enforcement; first responders; sanitation; and litter control and removal.

The Isle of Palms council meeting Friday morning took all of 3 minutes and 12 seconds. Two council members, Ryan Buchannon and Phillip Pounds, did not attend.

Mayor Jimmy Carroll, reading from the resolution, said the goal was to express the city’s opposition to the implementation of the legislation “by all lawful means necessary.”

It also urges S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster to veto the bill when it gets to his desk.

The resolution also claims the legislation “clearly discloses that barrier island communities, including the Isle of Palms, are being singled out and treated differently from other municipal entities in this state in a politically motivated, unconstitutional response to the City’s actions taken in the interest of public health and safety.”

It continues, alleging the bill “violates The Home Rule Act, which explicitly gives municipalities the sole power to control roads and streets within the municipality for the public health.”

“Home rule has always been a fundamental part of why South Carolina is so wonderful,” Councilman John Moye said in an emailed statement following the vote. “When home rule is threatened at this scale, issues that local leaders and communities know how to best address are suddenly being managed by politicians in Columbia.”

Isle of Palms, which is located across the Intracoastal Waterway from Mount Pleasant, has become the nexus of South Carolina’s beach parking drama. The back-and-forth over free versus paid parking has sparked debates over who deserves access to state’s public sands.

The debate intensified last year when South Carolina closed public access to its beaches, all of which the state owns, at the start of the pandemic in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. After McMaster reopened the beaches in late April, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach took a more gradual approach, issuing their own emergency orders to restrict public beach access and reduce the number of nonresidents coming in at the time.

Isle of Palms is facing a lawsuit over its 2020 decision to temporarily block nonresidents from using more than 750 parking spots near the beach, leaving just 10 free spaces for visitors.

All beaches are now open to the public.

Recently, ahead of the busy summer tourist season, the S.C. Department of Transportation installed approximately 240 angled spaces on the land side of the state-owned Palm Boulevard, stretching from 22nd to 40th Ave.

State Rep. Joe Bustos, R-Charleston, argued on the House floor last week that the bill was not ready for a vote and urged further debate.

“This is not a beach access bill. This is a beach parking bill, and we need to understand that,” Bustos said.

His attempts to table the bill were unsuccessful.

The local resolution that passed Friday now puts Isle of Palms at odds with Mount Pleasant, a neighboring town that in January passed a resolution to show public support for Grooms’ bill.

The bill, S. 40, passed its final reading May 13 in a 102-10 vote in the state House. It now heads to McMaster’s desk.

It is still unclear whether McMaster will sign the bill into law.

“Governor McMaster is still in the process of reviewing the bill and greatly appreciates all input,” said Brandon Charochak, a spokesman for the governor. “He will make a final decision in the coming days.”

Memorial Day weekend, considered the unofficial start of the summer tourist season, is next week.

A group calling themselves the Barrier Island Preservation Alliance welcomed the move by Isle of Palms on Friday.

The group’s stated mission is to foster dialogue and community engagement to address the unique challenges of barrier island beaches.

Morgan Harris, an Isle of Palms resident and member of the alliance, said council members share their goals.

“They, like we, want Isle of Palms to continue to be an open and welcoming community that is safe for families, businesses and visitors alike. And they believe, as so many of us do, that we, rather than Columbia bureaucrats and politicians, are best equipped to make decisions about parking in Isle of Palms,” Harris said.

This story was originally published May 21, 2021 2:12 PM.

Beach Santa to receive Isle of Palms’ distinguished award for litter cleanup efforts

ISLE OF PALMS — The city will recognize a man affectionately known as Beach Santa this week for his efforts in keeping the coast clean and bringing attention to the litter crisis plaguing beaches and waterways.Howard Hogue will receive the Isle of Palm’s Signal 30 Award at a city council meeting on July 27. The award is given on a limited basis with the approval of the city council for special citizen service.Hogue, of Moncks Corner, has become a staple on the beach at the Isle of Palms. He is known for his big whit...

ISLE OF PALMS — The city will recognize a man affectionately known as Beach Santa this week for his efforts in keeping the coast clean and bringing attention to the litter crisis plaguing beaches and waterways.

Howard Hogue will receive the Isle of Palm’s Signal 30 Award at a city council meeting on July 27. The award is given on a limited basis with the approval of the city council for special citizen service.

Hogue, of Moncks Corner, has become a staple on the beach at the Isle of Palms. He is known for his big white beard and is often seen wearing red swimming trunks and a red muscle shirt as he walks along the shore with a litter grabber and bucket.

He picks up litter as he walks and regularly stops to take pictures and talk with beachgoers.

From the summer of 2018 to the end of May 2021, Hogue documented collecting more than 55,000 litter and debris items from the Isle of Palms Beach and more than 75,000 items from the streetscape and parking lots in the island’s Front Beach commercial district.

But his cleanup efforts expand farther than the Isle of Palms and includes other parts of the Charleston region, too. It is believed that he has collected more than 425,000 litter items across the Lowcountry.

“Beach Santa has done an incredible service by helping to keep our island beautiful and protect the coastal ecosystem and public health from pollution,” said Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll in a news release.

Carroll said Hogue is an inspiration and great role model, and he thanks him for his volunteer efforts.

Susan Hill Smith, a city councilwoman and the Isle of Palms Cleanup Crew co-founder, said the 425,000-plus items collected by Hogue was done with “a twinkle in his eye.”

“This kind crusader gladly talks with those on the beach who ask about what he’s doing, ready to share a message for all who will listen about the importance of doing our part to protect the environment and shared public spaces,” Hill said.

To help prevent some of the beach litter, Isle of Palms began restricting smoking on the beach and beach access points in 2020, plus prohibited single-use retail plastic bags, plastic straws, balloons, and Styrofoam coolers, cups and food containers.

Hogue is continuing to document his litter sweeps and anticipates exceeding half a million litter items by the end of 2021.

CARTA’s free weekend beach bus to Isle of Palms often ran empty

MOUNT PLEASANT — The 2021 beach season marked the first time in nearly a decade that regular bus service to a Charleston-area barrier island was available, but officials haven’t decided if the “Beach Reach” bus will be back next year.While free to ride, the cost of operating the bus is on track to average about $100 for every round-trip passenger. And that’s assuming there will be lots of riders on Labor Day weekend, the last three days the bus will operate this summer.The beach shuttle was created...

MOUNT PLEASANT — The 2021 beach season marked the first time in nearly a decade that regular bus service to a Charleston-area barrier island was available, but officials haven’t decided if the “Beach Reach” bus will be back next year.

While free to ride, the cost of operating the bus is on track to average about $100 for every round-trip passenger. And that’s assuming there will be lots of riders on Labor Day weekend, the last three days the bus will operate this summer.

The beach shuttle was created in late 2020 during an uproar over public parking on Isle of Palms, where the city’s plan to eliminate free parking and reduce the amount of parking spots available prompted state legislation and S.C. Department of Transportation intervention to keep free parking widely available.

The hope was that offering a regular shuttle between Isle of Palms and Mount Pleasant would ease parking demands on the island, while also giving people without cars a way to reach the beach. However, when the state quashed Isle of Palms’ plan to charge for all nonresident beach parking, that eliminated a financial incentive to use the bus.

On a recent sunny Saturday at peak beach-going time, bus driver Lelia Sanders was waiting for passengers at the designated spot in Mount Pleasant, on Market Center Boulevard in the Towne Centre shopping center less than 5 miles from the beach. The bus leaves Towne Centre at 15 minutes past the hour, from 9:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.

Sanders’ bus was empty that Saturday as 10:15 approached, and it was nearly time to depart when the Route 40 bus from the Charleston peninsula arrived, with one beach-bound passenger. Less than 15 minutes that passenger was at her destination, steps from the beach, at the bus stop next to Isle of Palms County Park. There were no passengers waiting to return to Mount Pleasant.

That was a busier-than-usual trip.

Through Aug. 29, the bus operated on a total of 30 days covering Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays, making nine round-trips per day. That’s 270 round-trip runs to the beach so far.

During that time there were 397 riders, according to CARTA — but a rider is someone who boards a bus, so there were fewer than 200 round-trip passengers. The three-day Labor Day Weekend will add to the final passenger count.

The cost for the summer of bus service is $24,000, split three ways between the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority, the town of Mount Pleasant and the city of Isle of Palms. If Labor Day ridership is as large as Memorial Day ridership, the cost per round-trip rider for the season will work out to about $100.

The Beach Reach bus isn’t the only free-to-ride bus in CARTA’s system, the others being three DASH routes and the Route 20, all on the Charleston peninsula. Most buses need subsidies on top of any fare revenues, but $100 for each round-trip passenger “tends toward the higher end of the scale,” said CARTA spokesman Daniel Brock.

“The Beach Reach is in its first full season, and we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” he said.

No decision has been made about the shuttle returning for the summer of 2022, Brock said.

Mount Pleasant plans to review final ridership numbers and then discuss future involvement, said Community and Government Affairs Chief Lauren Sims.

Sanders, a CARTA veteran who was the Saturday bus driver all summer, said passengers were a mix of tourists and local residents, including some who traveled from Charleston or north Mount Pleasant on the connecting Route 40 and Route 42 buses.

Most, but not all, were taking the beach bus for pleasure, she said.

“You have people working over there,” Sanders said, explaining that some riders used the bus to get to their jobs.

She said that in Towne Centre she’s had tourists walk over and inquire about the bus. The bus stop is marked, but there’s no sign saying it’s free to ride.

“It takes time, and I think if they bring it back next summer, then there will be more people,” Sanders said.

Like Sanders, Isle of Palms Administrator Desiree Fragoso hopes to see the beach shuttle continue.

“We are hopeful that CARTA will continue to support this initiative as part of a broader effort to lessen traffic congestion in the region, expand this service to other communities and continue to build on its success for many years to come,” she said.

Fragoso said the city would have liked to have seen higher ridership, but since it was the first year of operation “it seems to have been a good start” and a success. The City Council has made no decision, though, about financially supporting the bus after this year.

Going into the 2021 summer season, the plan for the Beach Reach bus changed several times. The shuttle bus service was launched for a trial run in September 2020 at the urging of Isle of Palms officials, who at the time planned to charge for all beach parking areas available to nonresidents in 2021.

When CARTA approved the shuttle bus for the 2021 beach season in February, the plan was to charge riders $4 for a round-trip ride ($2 each way), and the stop in Mount Pleasant was to be at the Department of Motor Vehicles lot on Sweetgrass Basket Parkway at the Isle of Palms connector, and on the island, the bus stop was at Ocean Boulevard at 14th Avenue.

The price and the location of both bus stops soon changed.

By May, before the service began on Memorial Day weekend, the beach shuttle became a free service after Mount Pleasant and Isle of Palms each agreed to pay a third of the cost. And the Mount Pleasant bus stop was moved to Towne Centre, where the Route 40 and 42 buses already stopped.

Soon after the shuttle started running, there were complaints that the stop at the 14th Avenue beach access had no shade and was blocks away from public bathrooms. The stop on the island was then moved to a spot adjacent to the county park.

Memorial Day weekend saw the largest ridership numbers for the season, accounting for nearly a quarter of all the passengers seen throughout the summer prior to Labor Day weekend. Memorial Day, a Monday with clear weather, was the busiest day of the season, but some Saturdays and Sundays that followed saw just two or three round-trip passengers and on June 13, a rainy Sunday, there were none at all.

While Isle of Palms officials hoped the bus would ease traffic and demands for parking — a very small change given the number of riders — public transit advocates focused on the idea that people without automobiles should have access to the beach which, in the summer of 2021, they did.

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