Best Shops 2014: nominate and take a glance back at last year's winners

It's been a busy 12 months for last year's winners, write Alanna Gallagher and Niamh Towey

Laurene Clermont pictured last year at the Cracked Nut, Camden Street, Dublin - winner of the 2013 Best Artisan Food award. Photograph: Alan Betson

Laurene Clermont pictured last year at the Cracked Nut, Camden Street, Dublin - winner of the 2013 Best Artisan Food award. Photograph: Alan Betson


Readers, we'd like you to tell us about your favourite bakeries and boutiques, beauty salons and bric-a-brac stores, the florists and pharmacies, hardware stores and general stores. This year we are looking for your nominations in the following categories:

Best cafe/teashop
best artisan food/greengrocer
vest boutique
Best gifts/design/interiors
Best salon
Best destination shop
Best bookshop
Best specialist shop
Best shop window
Best service

If you'd like to nominate your favourite right now click here


Best Day Out
Kildare Farm Foods

Susan Sexton best shops

Since Kildare Farm Foods, Rathmuck, Co Kildare won the Best Day Out award last year, “sales in the shop have doubled, the product range has expanded by more than 50 percent, we built a new 100-seat restaurant with its own train station complete with indoor platform and invested in a miniature train to transport families around the farm”, says owner David Sexton. Kildare Farm Foods, Rathmuck, Co Kildare tel: 045-526774

Best Butcher
James Whelan

James Whelan Best shops

The staff at James Whelan celebrated their Best Shops win with a party in the Monkstown shop, serving customers up a house special, pork fillet marinated in homemade apricot and ginger marinade.“We are an altar to meat,” says James Whelan. “What we do connects you with a very primal force, the hunter gatherer in all of us. Winning the award made more carnivores aware of our expertise.” James Whelan Butchers, Avoca, Monkstown Crescent, Co Dublin tel: 01-663 8924,

The rage best shopsBest Specialist
The Rage

A specialist games and vinyl shop whose customers are in the 18-30 age bracket, the Best Shops award led to an influx of older customers whose main interest is its music and vinyl offer and accounted for a “jump in record player sales for the month of September”, owner Nicholas Di Maio explains. “Just watching someone come across a particular record and you know that the album means something to them and takes them back to a beautiful moment in their lives. It’s those moments that I feel make the shop a bit magical.” The Rage, 16B Fade Street, Dublin 2, tel: 01-6779564,

Best Bookshop
Charlie Byrne’s

Charlie Byrne best shops

Charlie Byrne’s bookshop is an ode to the written word. In fiction, hard-boiled crime writer Ken Bruen’s character Jack Taylor drops into the landmark shop to talk to the namesake owner and his manager, Vinny Browne. In real life, writers Pat McCabe and Kevin Barry were among the many fans who congratulated the pair on winning their Best Shops award, which Browne says has increased their business by 10 per cent. “It allowed us to expand our online presence and we now have customers from all over the world connecting with us,” Browne says. Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop, Cornstore Mall, Middle St, Galway. tel: 091-561766

Best Shopkeeper
Patrick Sheary

Paddy Sheary’s Menswear on Dublin’s Clarendon Street opened in the midst of the recession. Winning the Best Shopkeeper award was “the highlight of 2013” and gave the already well-connected salesman a “greater visibility and a bigger shop window”. His celebrity following includes Brian O’Driscoll, who recently wore an ice blue linen design to Wimbledon. Since his win last year, his business has doubled and he has taken on new staff, one full-time and one part-time, and has “a much better standing and a raised profile”. Patrick Sheary Menswear, 33 Clarendon Street, Dublin 2 tel: 01 6111846,

Best Artisan Food, Greengrocer
The Cracked Nut

Cracked nut best shops

Since opening last year, The Cracked Nut has become a healthy-eating home from home for Dublin’s body conscious, including Bressie and Aiden Gillen. Owners and sisters Nikki O’Toole and Kelda Clermont are holistic therapists and radiate this healthy way of life. Instead of tea and sympathy, you get solid whole food advice with your cup of matcha. In the 12 months since winning the Best Shops award the cafe’s customers “have doubled and people have come from as far away as Cork and Donegal” to try the signature flapjacks. The Cracked Nut, 71 Camden Street, Dublin 2 tel: 01-5375942, find them on Facebook

Jen Cleary best shopsBest Gifts, Design, Interiors
Moss Cottage

The Moss Cottage aesthetic, “industrial granny chic, meets floral with an edge, with a bit of neon thrown in for fun” has garnered a following that includes actress Amy Huberman. Winning the Best Shops award helped owner Jen Cleary grow her business by 30 per cent in the past 12 months. “This is not just a shop front business,” she says of the charming homespun store. “It is a multi-platform brand that uses Facebook, twitter, Pinterest and The Irish Times to connect with customers and look for feedback. Everything goes hand in hand.” Moss Cottage, 4 Pembroke Cottages, Main Street, Dundrum, Dublin 14 tel: 01-2157696,

Fiona Kennedy red ruby rouge best shopsBest Boutique
Red Ruby Rouge

Red Ruby Rouge is a boutique with a serious fashion following that includes A-listers such as Kiera Knightly and Mischa Barton. No wonder owner Fiona Kennedy chose to set up shop in a town named Holywood, Co Down. To celebrate her win she “invited customers for a special shopping weekend with discounts across all her labels”. Red Ruby Rouge, 120 High Street, Holywood, Co. Down, tel: +44 48-90427818,

Jim Hatton best shopsBest Salon
Jim Hatton

“When we heard the news, Champagne corks were popped in the salon while clients dropped in congratulatory home-baked cakes and bunches of flowers,” Hatton says. He didn’t enter the competition himself. It was his loyal customers who pushed his name through. “For me, a cut that frames the face and suits the customer is the ultimate trend, and that’s what I always try to do” Hatton says. Jim Hatton, 40 Dunville Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, tel: 01-4976840,

Best Cafe/teashop
Brown Hound Bakery

Brown hound Best shops

The Brown Hound Bakery in Drogheda is a tantalising place to spend time. Since winning their Best Shops award they’ve expanded into the wedding business, confecting edible floral fantasies and savoury cheese tableaus to the big-day brigade. They’re also planning a new pop-up in the bakery, to run on evenings in August and September. Avian Lounge will serve a new take on bird food, owner Jeni Glasgow explains. Bryanstown Centre, Dublin Road, Drogheda, Co. Louth, tel: 041-983 3792


If you'd like to nominate your favourite right now click here

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