Best shops- last year’s winners

It’s been a busy year for the winners of last year’s competition with sales up in most cases and a lot of good will from customers

It’s that time of the year again when we’d like you to tell us about your favourite shops around Ireland.



The Burren Perfumery, Co Clare 

What a year it’s been for The Burren Perfumery, situated in Carron, Co Clare. Since winning the Best Day Out award, overall business is up 21 per cent, says owner Sadie Chowen. Mail order is up as much as 35 per cent and reciepts in the cafe have increased 20 per cent.

“Winning the Irish Times award raised so much awareness, it reminded locals that we’re on their doorstep and drew tourists from all over Ireland and beyond. For a rural business that is destination-led, our mail order helps up keep in touch with our customers long after they visit.” Tel 065 708 9102



Juju boutique, Co Wicklow

It has been the most phenomenal year, says Juliette Ledwidge, owner of JuJu, the Greystones-based winner of the Best Boutique award. “Since our win we’ve increased our customer base by 25 per cent and invested in a new website.”

The accolade has also allowed the small shop to attract prestigious new labels, she explains. “Despite being in a small town labels like Helmut Lang, Vince and Yves Solomon (those extra expensive fur-lined parkas) were so impressed by our credentials that their agents were happy to supply us.

“In this business, word of mouth, either the modern social media kind or the old-fashioned verbal variety is an important part of the sales strategy. Winning this award turned the volume up to 11.” Tel 01 201 6723.



The Garden, Dublin 2

Florist Mark Grehan of The Garden, Powerscourt Townhouse, who won Best Shop Window for his treatment of the steps and hall space of the Georgian building, didn’t realise what a big deal it was to win this award. 

“In the weeks after winning the numbers coming into the shop to wish me well was unreal. All that positivity definitely benefited the business and I picked up about three new corporate clients from the win.”

The win is also about validation, he says. “As any small business owner knows, you have put in a lot of undocumented hours to stay afloat. At times my social life was non-existent. Winning felt like a pat on the back”. How did he celebrate?

“I took the staff to Grogans for toasties and pints of Guinness – I believe in keeping it local.” Tel 01 612 5260



64 Wine, Glasthule, Co Dublin 

The most important factor to winning was the effect it had on staff, explains Gerard Maguire, owner of 64 Wine, who won last year’s best service award. “It has made them proud to work here and hyper aware how easy it is to turn a customer off.

“We also saw an uplift in sales at what is typically a quiet time of the year and had a couple of really busy months when business was up 10 to 15 per cent .”

The win has also had an impact on the village, its traders and the community that voted, says Maguire. “On the morning we won Peter Caviston, a man who has vision and could see it as a good thing for Glasthule, came in bearing flowers to say congratulations. “To be honoured by someone you respect was wonderful.”

01-280 5664



Bridge Street Books, Wicklow Town Co Wicklow

Running an independent bookshop continues to be challenging, says Hilary Hamilton, who together with her daughter Joanna operates Bridge Street books, winner of the best bookshop category last year.

She estimates business is up about 3 per cent with footfall up about 10 per cent in the month after winning the award.

“People come to a bookshop to browse and we encourage it. It is far nicer to have browsers than an empty shop.”

Why do they continue to do it? “We love it and enjoy connecting with our customers “Winning also really helped improve the shopkeeper spirit in Wicklow town.” Tel 0404 62240



The Cottage, Loughmore, Co Tipperary

The Irish Times has put us on the map, says Mary O’Heir, who runs The Cottage, Loughmore, Co Tipperary, with her business partner Mary Fogarty. “There’s not one day goes by that someone doesn’t come in and say they read about us in the paper.

We’ve become a destination, with groups travelling by bus to visit. And sales are up 14 per cent.” The pair were “crying for a week” after they heard the news and have celebrated the win by helping to spread the parish-run co-op set-up all over Ireland through the Plunkett Foundation, a UK organisation they’ve based their business model on, that already runs 300 shops, tearooms and pubs in English and Scottish rural communities.

The women are about to open an office in Loughmore where interested parties can meet with them to discuss the concept. “The idea of locals coming together, some paid, some as volunteers, to progress their rural community works,” Fogarty says.

See The Plunkett Foundation’s website for further details Tel 0504 35846



Article, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Dublin 2

Figures at Article, winner of the Best Gifts/Design/Interiors Award, are up 12 per cent year on year, says owner John Adams. A big part of that was the increase in footfall last September when the shop won, he says. “The award, now proudly displayed outside, means people, in particular more tourists stop, read it and decide to come in. The fact that it’s a public submission gives the competition more credibility. 

People really engage with it because they actually take the trouble to write about you and vote for you. Regulars took the time to come in and congratulate us. You don’t often get that kind of feedback.” Tel 01 679 9268



Ardkeen Qualtity Food Store, Co Waterford

Run by brothers Kevin, Gerald and Colin Jephson, Ardkeen Quality Food Store in Waterford scooped the Best Artisan Food/ Greengrocer award last year. The publicity and national awareness that surrounded the award is unquantifiable, says Colin Jephson. “Best Shops helped us gain traction. Last year saw a bit of growth, about 5 per cent and we launched a new website. “We’ve built a real place to shop that brings artisan producers to a wider audience. It’s up to us to get the most out of it that we can. The win has been great for morale. It’s an extended stamp of approval from the people we value most, our customers.” Tel 051 874 620



Dylan Bradshaw, South William Street, Dublin 2

The object of the competition is to increase awareness and the win definitely did that, says Charlotte Bradshaw, wife and business partner of Dylan Bradshaw, winner of last year’s Best Salon award. “We saw a huge increase in walk-ins, many of whom are now clients. The win got a lot of new people through our doors.

“As a salon we’ve won over 50 awards but this is the one we have been happiest to win,” Dylan adds. “It is recognition by both our customers and a panel of experts that sets the kind of high standards that we believe in. People now know where we are. It was great advertising for us and has led to international talents like Trevor Sorbie popping in to see what we’re up to.”

“We want to win it again this year,” is the last word from Charlotte, throwing down the gauntlet or in this case a sharp scissors. The charm offensive has begun. Tel 01 671 9353



The Pen Corner, Dublin

Owner John Fitzgerald was on holidays when the news broke of his shop’s win in the Best Specialist category. His colleague Aileen Moran recalls a lot of people, regulars and new customers, coming through the door that Saturday “really happy for us”. Has it led to an increase in sales. No says Fitzgerald. “Nothing at all has changed here. That’s why people like us.” Tel 01 679 3641 

Click here to nominate your Best Shop 2015

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection


Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.