Best shops 2014

Get your final nominations ins now

Thu, Aug 7, 2014, 14:03

This Saturday 9th August is the final opportunity to tell us about your favourite shop in the Best Shops 2014 competition, before nominations close at 6pm.

So far we’ve logged more than 25,000 genuine nominations made for over 2,600 shops.Predictably, Dublin is leading the way with 35 per cent of the overall nominations, but Cork, Wicklow, Waterford and Limerick are also polling strongly, while in the northern counties, nominations are sparse but sincere.

Specialist shops including chemists, hardware stores, florists and fishing tackle shops, along with sweet shops, bookshops, beauty salons, boutiques selling every fancy label and frippery, have put on their best bib and tucker to persuade readers to vote.

Greengrocer and artisan food shops weighed in, asking their shoppers to “vote for us” in signs made of cake, bread and in one case a message written in chilli peppers. Thanks for all the photographs and videos posted over the course of the campaign.

Readers everywhere have taken to irishtimes.com/bestshops to support the shops and shopkeepers that make them feel special. The artisan food shop category accounts for nine per cent of the vote so far and has saved one marriage, at least, writes Siobhan MacCarthy. She moved back to Dublin in 2006 and her French husband “would’ve either starved to death in protest or decamped back to his mother’s if we hadn’t been able to wander down to our local, Cavistons, and know that we would be able to find any product/foodstuff/advice necessary to preserve the sanity of a foreign foodie. Thank God for Cavistons!”

In Celbridge, The Espresso Project, is not your average coffee shop, writes Georgia Tracey. “The minute you walk in you feel welcomed by everyone who’s there. The people who work there know their blends. The aroma, the uplifting atmosphere and the positive attitude makes it the perfect place to chill and hang out with friends.”

The independent book shop has made a Lazarus-like recovery in the minds of readers, with more than 120 shops nominated in this category. At the Gallery of Photography bookshop (pictured below centre), “the knowledgeable and unpretentious staff are approachable and genuinely interested”, writes Ben Lennon. “They also knowingly sold me a out-of-print book for less than it was online because it was all I could afford as a gift for someone.”

Fashion fan Siobhan Whelan says we “need to support our independent stores in order to keep the online and multiple impersonal monoliths at bay because independent stores offer a lifeline to emerging designers and are the breath of any village heartbeat. In the Best Boutique category, Whelan nominates Juju, Greystones (pictured below right) for its “fabulous selection of high-end brands and personalised service from a sales team who genuinely know how to dress and deal with clients”. Mario Corrigan loves the beautiful clothes, excellent service and wonderful atmosphere, at Kalu, Naas (pictured below left).

So, for the final time, if you know of a shop that deserves some attention, where the owner is doing an especially good job, log on and vote at irishtimes.com/bestshops Voting closes at 6pm this evening.

Next week our judges will begin the great count to whittle the enormous number of nominations down to a shortlist of 100. Simon Pratt, MD of Avoca; Edmund Shanahan, a retail, fashion and homewares consultant; fashion designers and Frockadvisor columnists Sonya Lennon and Brendan Courtney and Irish Times journalist Alanna Gallagher will sift through those with the most nominations to determine which shops make it through. They will also determine which shop windows will make the cut and which shops offer the best service.

Their shortlist will be published on August 23rd. Then a swat team of Irish Times secret shoppers will pay the shortlisted shops a visit to scrutinise their offer, their customer service and sample their wares.

In the meantime we’re compiling an A-Z list of all the shops that have been nominated in the 2014 competition. The big reveal will take place on Saturday, September 6th.

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