Best shops in Ireland: the shortlist

We asked you to tell us about your favourite shops and you replied in yourthousands, nominating more than 600 shops around the country for our secondBest Shops in Ireland awards. Today, we publish the shortlist

Sat, Aug 24, 2013, 01:00

Ireland’s independent retailers are places to cherish, where we gather to shop, share, gossip, laugh and sometimes even cry. They are barometers of our rural and urban communities, weather vanes that champion wider community issues.

They support local football teams, know just how to serve your tea or coffee, invest in new ranges that you need to try, will keep your copy of The Irish Times for you while you’re on holiday and will proudly tell you how Mary, the Saturday girl, did a run and raised thousands of euro for a cancer charity.

The shopkeepers themselves make you feel welcome whether you’re browsing, buying or just sheltering from a showery squall. Many of you praised shops that offered good value – but without sacrificing quality or choice.

They also know that you, the customer, can be a font of wisdom and value your opinion. They want you to sample their goods and give them honest feedback. It is a symbiotic relationship that breathes life into our high streets and rural outposts, one that should be celebrated and supported.

The shortlist for this year’s best shops in Ireland competition is testament to your love of local retailers.

Almost every town in Ireland is represented, with some categories inspiring hundreds of responses.

Locally sourced produce and Irish craft and design are really well represented in the shortlist, showing the appetite there is for investing in home grown talent.

Three of the 10 categories originally listed – cafe/teashop; artisan food and greengrocer and crafts, gifts and design – garnered thousands of comments, with hundreds of shopkeepers and owners namechecked by readers for their attentive service and eye for detail. Two categories – health and beauty (added this year) and hardware (a huge success last year) – elicited disappointing responses this time round.

In contrast there were hundreds of nominations for shopping experiences that offered a sense of a great day out, so we’ve changed two of the categories slightly, amalgamating health and beauty with the hairdresser category, adding a category for local butchers because of the number of carnivores who wrote novellas on the service and quality of the produce supplied.

We’ve also created a new category for shops that offer more, giving a sense of an outing for both parents and kids.

The best shop window will be selected from the top 10 of the 50 shortlisted, as will the best shopkeeper.

When The Irish Times asked you to nominate your favourites, the response was more than double that of last year with more than 3,400 of you submitting entries. Whittling these down to 50 was no mean feat. We hope you agree with the selection.

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