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    Authentic: Megan Pinckney

    AS A WOMAN WHO GRADUATED FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA, who represented as Miss South Carolina in the 2013 Miss USA pageant, and someone who has traveled the world, there’s only one place that Megan Pinckney wants to call home.


    “I love how close-knit Columbia is as a community,” Megan said. “My fiancé and his family are from Columbia, and his family has been here for generations. They have family friends that they have known for generations, and I think that’s so unique. It makes you realize how special this town is and makes you want to raise a family here.” From the friendly faces and the sense of community that is found all throughout town to the wonderful local shopping and dining experiences, there’s a lot to love about calling Columbia home. Supporting local is important to Megan and she enjoys frequenting businesses such as Pout on Devine Street, the Old Mill Antique Mall in West Columbia, and Monkee’s of Columbia, and she enjoys dining out at the locally-owned restaurants that can be found up and down Columbia’s Main Street district.


    “When it comes to eating local in Columbia, I love to go out on Main Street,” said Megan. “There’s no one particular place—they are all great. But I do think that the 1600 block is especially impressive with all that the Middleton family has done to revive it.”


    One of Megan’s favorite shops is just outside of downtown Columbia, and is a boutique filled with everything from gifts for mamas-to-be or brides to perfect touches to add to your home decor. “Blush Boutique in Lexington is one of my favorite little shops,” said Megan. “It’s filled with things you didn’t know you needed!”


    She’s passionate about why supporting local businesses is so important, more so this year and holiday season than ever before.


    “I really do believe that small businesses are the foundation of our community,” said Megan. “They’re the backbone. Supporting them is so important. For one, they employ locals in their business which is great, but also, their tax dollars go directly back into our community which is great for everyone. It’s at the local shops and boutiques where you are really able to build a relationship with the owners and their team. Once you build that relationship and they know you, they are able to personally recommend exactly what you’re looking for. Or they might spot something they know you’ll love, so they’ll give you a heads up about it. It’s so nice.” Supporting local extends to her weekends spent in Columbia, too. Megan’s perfect Saturday morning begins at Soda City Market bright and early as the market opens for the day and ends at Williams-Brice Stadium, cheering on the South Carolina Gamecocks football team.


    “That’s basically every Saturday in the fall,” Megan said. “Soda City is so special—even if you can’t make it every weekend, you know that it’s happening and that you can get back to it the next week. It’s one of the best things that our city has to offer. Even during the pandemic, you can go and be around people, feel the energy of the city, and not have to get close or talk to anyone if you do not want to. Saturday mornings spent at Soda City are perfect. You could even consider it a ‘free’ activity, but I’ve never made it in and out of the market without stopping to buy something!”


    Megan is currently planning her upcoming wedding with her fiancé, Todd, and as with most weddings in 2020, her original plans have drastically changed. “We originally were planning a much larger celebration with several hundred guests in Charleston,” said Megan. “We booked everything in March right before things began shutting down. At first, we were waiting to see if our plans would stay the same. Then it became a game of uncertainty. There’s a lot of unknown right now and it’s super frustrating for everyone”


    Now, Megan and her fiancé are planning a much smaller, intimate ceremony with just their immediate family and will be celebrating with a special dinner afterwards.


    “We had to think about what was really important,” Megan said. “And at the end of the day it was just starting our lives together, so we’re just focused on something very intimate right now. Hopefully, we’ll be able to celebrate with everyone we love in the future.” As we move into the busy holiday season, everyone is looking at their typical traditions, celebrations, and gatherings and considering how they might change due to the ongoing pandemic. Everything from the tree lightings around town to favorites performances, like The Nutcracker, have been affected in one way or other. Megan serves on the board for Columbia City Ballet, the ballet company that puts on The Nutcracker at the Koger Center each holiday season, and is actively working to determine how to safely produce the holiday favorite.


    “We are so excited that the Nutcracker is able to happen this year,” Megan said. “After all, what is Christmas without The Nutcracker?”


    Outside of The Nutcracker, some of Megan’s favorite traditions around Columbia include Vista Lights and their annual tree lighting along with driving through the festive light display at Saluda Shoals Park.


    “We don’t know what the holidays will look like this year,” Megan said. “Will there be parties and family dinners? One tradition I’m looking forward to keeping alive this season is family holiday matching pajama night!”


    [Hair: Process Salon, Makeup: POUT (page 26), Dress: Copper Penny (page 35)]