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Landshark Landmark: Center Street Shark A Folly Fixture

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Folly Beach’s Center Street Landshark is a quirky landmark you may have noticed jutting out from a tourist shop next to City Hall, but just how did it get there and why?

In 1991, not long after Hurricane Hugo ravaged the Lowcountry, Ed Hollingsworth and his friend Bill Perry derived a plan to mount a giant fiberglass shark to a wall outside the Oceansports Surf Shop. Store owners Perry and Betty Sue Cowsert wanted to use the shark as a marketing ploy to help attract people’s attention and bring in business to the store. The shark was initially destined for Myrtle Beach, but Perry and Cowsert struck a deal for their own “half-shark” here. 

One Sunday evening, on the building inspector’s day off, Hollingsworth and his two sons Charles and Lee helped Perry covertly hang the shark up outside Oceansports, which was located right next to City Hall. Standing atop a van they backed onto the sidewalk, they then proceeded to affix the shark to the exterior wall of the surf shop.

No one from City Hall ever said a thing about it, and the Center Street shark remained in place, hovering menacingly above sidewalk pedestrians with its toothy predatory grin. 

Nearly 30 years on, it is now one of the most photographed landmarks on Folly. The shark is even memorialized in Stratton Lawrence’s pictorial book “Images of America: Folly Beach.” The book depicts images of the stealth operation to hang the shark’s head. 

For a while the shark was hung over the law office of Tommy and Keith Bolus, but they have since moved their offices to North Charleston. 

Now the shark lurks above unsuspecting passersby atop the Native gift shop and apparel store.

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