Best Shops

Just over a week to go

Thu, Jul 31, 2014, 13:05

There is just over a week to go in our Best Shops 2014 campaign and nominations now stand at 17,738, for shops throughout the 32 counties.

Bike shops, sea angling shops, dog grooming parlours, branches of SuperValu and Marks & Spencer have inspired readers to vote for them. But it’s the bakeries and food emporia that have really whetted appetites. “If the ghost of Marie Antoinette happened to come on holiday to Dublin and wandered down Lower Kevin Street, she would surely beam with delight for Antoinette’s Bakery,” says reader Roddy Aherne. “The lovely bakery, named in her honour, provides a gorgeous relaxed space to nibble (or gorge) on the superb cakes, scones and other totally gluten-free produce all made on site.”

For Judith Lawless it is the staff at Shells Seaside Bakery and Cafe, Strandhill, Co Sligo who “are really keen to share their thoughts on what you might like (without being ridiculously geeky about it).”

Eoin O’Riordan in Cork loves Diva Boutique Bakery in Ballinspittle but asks that we don’t tell too many people about it. Too late Eoin! The food served in McMahon’s, Botanic Avenue, Dublin 9, is so good teacher Maedbh Rochford went there for lunch at least twice weekly during the school term. The school was up the road.

“I don’t own a car and over the summer have cycled from Lucan to McMahon’s for the food. That’s how good it is – best cafe in Dublin by miles (literally).”

Patrick Haran thinks the window of Ginkgo Florists, Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4, is amazing. “Every time I pass this florist there is something new which catches my eye and always makes me stop for closer inspection. With its beautiful natural perfumes and intriguing artistic displays, this shop is a real tribute to its owner.”

Hard work, an artistic eye and obvious passion for flowers are the reasons he wants it to win.

Adam Roche says the “unreal service” at DJ Box in Tallaght is worth shouting about on social media. “They opened the shop up for me two hours before a DJ gig (7pm on a Sunday) to get me speaker leads that I badly needed for work that night.”

Martin Fennelly Antiques is one of several antiques dealers named in nominations. US customer Amy O’Connor says he is “extremely personable, stocks beautiful, unique antiques and is very knowledgeable”.

Authenticity, attentive service and a great selection of products are the qualities many of the 15,000 readers mentioned as regarding highly when they nominated their favourite shops. For reader Rita Lovett, Liston’s Food Store on Dublin’s Camden Street ticks all three boxes. “Generic produce has no meaning here,” she says. “Everything is carefully sourced and of very high quality. The ambience alone will make you stay there. More of this type of shop please!!”

This year we’ve enlisted experts in their fields to sit on our judging panel, a new feature of the competition. Managing director of Avoca Simon Pratt; retail, fashion and homewares consultant Edmund Shanahan; fashion designers and Frockadvisor columnists Sonya Lennon and Brendan Courtney, and Irish Times journalist Alanna Gallagher.

So how do you vote for your favourite shop?

Go to irishtimes.com/bestshops and fill in the form. Follow the competition on #bestshops14.

Get voting.

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