Sweetgrass basket weaver fighting back - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Sweetgrass basket weaver fighting back

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SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- A local sweet-grass basket weaver is fighting back, after she says she was denied a business license and told to leave a Lowcountry marina.

Lillian Huger has been twisting, braiding, and creating beautiful baskets for nearly 30 years.

Her craftsmanship, skill and artistry are quickly apparent when you examine her work – multi-colored hand-woven masterpieces. Each made with dedication, love, and generations of history.

"I started when I was six years old," Huger said. "My grandmother taught me and followed through by my mother."

Her greatest joy is talking with both locals and visitors; showing them the intricate process of basket weaving. She also enjoys explaining the history of the craft, which dates back to a time before slavery, and passed down from generation to generation.

Huger recently set up shop under a tent at Bohicket Marina on Seabrook Island, and quickly made a splash with fellow shop owners, restaurant workers and tourists.

Several times a day, restaurant workers hand deliver cold water to keep her cool in the Lowcountry heat.

"They love watching her work and watching her create what she does," Marina Owner Nicholas Macpherson said.  "She does a great job and it's a great attraction."

But Huger's recent success and new venture is in jeopardy.

She was told she needed to apply for a business license from the town, but was denied when town leaders told her that the tent she uses to stay cool, violated a zoning ordinance.   

She called Seabrook Town Hall in disbelief, even asking the marina managers to intervene.

"I didn't understand," Huger said. "I told him the owners assured me its private property and it's their property and they wanted me to be there."

Huger says she met with town officials to see the ordinance, and asked them to reconsider.

When she repeated her request, Huger says things got heated and words were exchanged.

"These were his exact words verbatim he says, I do not care about you or your business, get out." She recalled.

Huger says she was disrespected, and town officials ended the conversation refusing to discuss the matter further.

"It was uncalled for, Macpherson said.  "I hate that Lillian had to go through that. It was verbally abusive towards her and berating and we felt like her voice needed to be heard."

MacPherson and ownership group support Huger, and say they'll take the issue to the mayors office. 

In the meantime, Huger says she won't give up and plans to stay put.

ABC News 4 reached out to the Town Administrator, who refused to comment until discussing the matter with the town attorney and mayor.


  • Jon Bruce

    Email: jbruce@abcnews4.com Reporter Profile




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