Best shops 2016: The Winners

This year’s judges had a tough job sifting through more than 30,000 entries. Readers were eager to show their appreciation for the independent shops making a difference up and down the country. Today we reveal the 10 winning shops

From over 30,000 enteries here's two of the winning shops of this year's Irish Times Best Shop 2016 competition. Video: Stewart Lambert

BEST CRAFT/GIFT SHOP: The Old Mill Stores
On a bend in the road between Roscarbery and Leap is a real sign of the retail times. The Old Mill Stores in Gortnaroe is a thriving independent shop that occupies one half of the building. The other half is derelict. Tom Keane and interior designer Claire Graham opened up shop here 16 years ago. They spotted it while en route to deliver some reconditioned Scandinavian wood-burning stoves to Jeremy Irons at Kilcoe Castle in Ballydehob. The couple, who set up Urbana in Temple Bar in the early 1990s, and had their stoves featured in the Harry Potter films, were looking for a new adventure.

“We saw the derelict property, a former shop, adjoining a former feed mill, and bought the lot on a whim,” Keane explains. Belonging to the Maloney family, it had been empty for years. It was one of those millennial decisions that if they had had to write a business plan for the bank, they would have been laughed out of it. But retail runs in the veins of this pair and they have turned this space into a stop-the-car-we-have-to-go-into-this-store destination in its own right. It is situated on the busy N71, and about 50 per cent of their trade comes from impromptu stops by people who are taken by what they see, Graham says.

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