Best Shops 2016: Taking care of the little things

Llittle kindnesses tend to mean a lot in small communities

The Knitting Room: Owners Brendan, pictured, and Carrie Kavanagh of the Donnycarney Dublin 5 shop go the extra mile, say their customers

The Knitting Room: Owners Brendan, pictured, and Carrie Kavanagh of the Donnycarney Dublin 5 shop go the extra mile, say their customers

 

It’s day 22 of the competition and we have passed the half-way mark in this year’s contest so, shop owners, if you haven’t been nominated, now is the time to rally your customer base.

At its core, this competition is about service, says Best Shops judge Eddie Shanahan. “You can have all the great merchandising and merchandise in the world but the essence of the business is making new friends, something that you build by creating a sense of community, consumer confidence and consistency.”

In its 10 years in Dublin’s Temple Bar All City Records has nurtured Irish hip-hop and electronic music and created one such community, writes Jim Fuller. “It is a place to stick your head into and have a chat about new music, art or whatever it may be.”

Seán McHale has nominated RBM Fisheries, fishing tackle and outdoor supplies, Westport, Co Mayo run by brothers-in-law, Ross Barrett and Roger Martin. “They look after their customers like gold even taking their boat to water to deliver some products to a group out fishing. The shop feels like a home, and then a tea is placed in your hand and 10 minutes turns into an hour and the stories swapped last a lifetime.”

“If you tell the staff at Rooney’s Gift Store in Belleek, Co Fermanagh, what you are looking for they always manage to magic it off the shelves for you,” writes reader Bernie Maguire while Melbourne-based Averil Gramaconi says she always calls in when home, “Owner Michelle has a warm welcome and reassures me that she will keep an eye on my 83-year-old mum who heads in daily, for her paper, to go to the post office but mostly for a chat with the friendly staff.”

In Co Kerry the mother and son running The Family Shop in Knocknagoshel in Co Kerry listen to their customers, writes Kerry O’Regan. “They brought in a badly-needed ATM” and do home deliveries in the area including to Anne Fitzgerald’s elderly mother “who only needs to phone and the owner will bring mom’s shopping to her, which I think is just so kind and shows great community spirit.”

Ed Collins, and many others, write to tell us about the “fantastic bread and bracks” at Hickey’s Bakery in Clonmel. In Dalkey, Co Dublin, Catherine Brindley is nominating Hicks pork shop saying, “Advice and tips are readily given, and unusual requests are deftly fielded like when I asked for pigs’ tails for grilling. I got them too.”

In the salon category, Eamonn Lynch feels “welcomed and appreciated from start to finish” at The Stylish Guy in Clontarf while Margaret Coffeey loves the personal service at Clothes Peg boutique in Sutton, a store where she has bought many looks for her “big life moments” including first interview, going-away outfit and numerous wedding outfits.

For Linda Russell it’s the charismatic way Spaniard Chuse Sanchez at Clone, a small computer repair shop on Dublin’s Wellington Quay, resolves her tech problems that prompted her to write that “he will always offer the best advice and you never feel like you’re being ripped off”.

Sophie Hart loves Haven Pharmacy, Beaumont “whose amazing staff have helped me and my family through a difficult time.”

Hundreds of readers talk about how their favourite shop went “the extra mile” for them, including the Knitting Room in Donnycarney, Dublin 5. “One time when I was on my way to the airport and Brendan rang to say he would meet me on the way so I didn’t have to go the whole way to the shop,” Rose English writes.

Readers, let’s hear more about your favourites. Make your voice heard, before the judges sit down to sift through the nominations and select this year’s shortlist.

The closing date for nominations is August 3rd. See irishtimes.com/bestshops

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