Highly commended: Lamber de Bie Flowers, Primrose Cottage Cakes and Om Diva
Lamber de Bie of Lamber de Bie flowers in Kilkenny. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan.
Primrose Cottage Cakes. Photograph: Simon J O’Neill
Om Diva on Drury Street, Dublin 2. Photograph: Alan Betson
Lamber de Bie
“The biggest sin in retail is ignoring what the customer wants,” says Dutch florist Lamber de Bie who owns three shops, one in Kilkenny and two in Waterford. “I try to get my staff to imagine what kind of day the customer is having.” Lamber de Bie is a retailer who uses the pavement outside as part of his shop window. Reader Mijke Jansen describes him as a “master florist” who stocks magnificent arrangements for every occasion. Whether it is giving someone a bit of shelter from the rain, however long they stay, or painstakingly co-ordinating with the bride and groom for their wedding day, Lamber de Bie prides itself on being a store that raises the bar. Reader Nicole Connery likes the fact that they always “give that little bit more”.
Lamber de Bie, Ormonde Street, Kilkenny, tel: 056-7770161; Kilberry Centre, Tramore Road, Waterford, Tel: 051-379440; Ardkeen Quality Food Store, Dunore Road, Waterford, Tel: 051-844848, Web: amberdebie.ie
Om Diva is small boutique that sells vintage clothing and fashion labels as well as a select number of Irish designers including Aine Geoghegan, Ciara Murphy and Capulet & Montague. “We have to keep emerging talent in the country,” says owner Ruth Ní Loinsigh. Her premises draws glitter moths to its fashion flame. It is a place reader Genevieve Farrelly describes as “a beam of light in a dark economy”. With sewing school soirees, social gatherings and al fresco customer evenings, Ní Lionsigh strives to foster an atmosphere that reader Irene Farrell describes as “different and special”. “Positivity attracts positivity, ” is the owner’s belief. And the small things – free earrings to match your outfit, a glass of wine while shopping, or a quiet conversation – all add to the retail experience.
Om Diva, 27 Drury Street, Dublin 2, Tel: 6791211.
Primrose Cottage Cakes
“It’s not the regular coffee shop,” says Siobhán Casey of Primrose Cottage Cakes, and judging by her customers’ gleeful response to the cafe’s unusual interior, this may be putting it mildly.
The shop opts for what Elizabeth Doyle terms “a unique space for people to meet up”. The floor, reader Mary Kiernan explains, “is chequered black and white tiles” with “vintage dressers and hanging china cups” given pride of place in the 1950s-themed set-up. The shop is on the first floor and can be a challenge to find, but is a giant step forward from baking cakes in her apartment, which is how Casey started out in business. For the “amazing cakes” alone, Orlaith Smith argues, the search is more than worth it.
Primrose Cottage Cakes, 14A Lower Esmonde Street, Gorey, Co Wexford, tel: 087-7784124, Web: primrosecottagecakes.com