We are approaching the halfway mark in the The Irish Times Best Shops in Ireland competition and readers are keen to highlight stores that have created a real sense of community as well as commercial success.
Reiltin Murphy nails it on the head when she writes that "Spectrum art shop in Wexford gives the best of friendly advice to all looking for art materials or framing. It's more like a club than a shop."
Sarah Chan says Chair, Artistry of Hair, in Cork city, is a welcoming den because owner Paula Curtis's passion for her subject means "she understands the needs of all types of hair and how to coax the best out of it. This ensures that you leave with a style you love and that isn't lost the first time you wash it yourself. Paula gently encourages you to divulge what you really want or what you didn't know you wanted and translates it into flattering and a manageable reality".
The So Sew Fabric & Haberdashery Emporium, Naas, Co Kildare has created a community of sewers all over Leinster, says Samantha Coventry. "This isn't just a shop, it's an experience that has created an environment for the like-minded, sewers, creators and knitters."
This a sentiment echoed by Robert Laffan who says that the Irish Film Institute IFI Film Shop on Dublin's Eustace Street is a must for any film fan. "It is rare find, a quiet, calm little space tucked away in the middle of busy Temple Bar".
Wild Ireland outdoor store in Limerick "brings vibrancy and colour to the King John's area", writes R Fanning while fashion shop Kabuiki in Carrick-on-Shannon "liaises very well with other local businesses to help customers complete the look. MillinerJennifer Wrynne and shoe boutique Carrie Bradshaw do photo shoots together and update the looks to Facebook, making life very easy for the shopper," writes Mary McKeon.
At the heart of its community and stocked with everything you could want in a local store is Lynham's in Goatstown, Co Dublin, says Niall Keogh. "It always has a warm welcome whatever your purchase is."
Advice and tips are readily given at "venerable institution of piggy goodies Hick, the pork butchers in Dalkey, " says Catherine Brindley. "Even unusual requests are deftly fielded like when I asked for pigs tails for grilling. I got them too."
Red Nose Wine in Clonmel "challenges customers to try something interesting as opposed to bulk supermarket wines and works closely with Tipperary food producers to arrange wine and food evenings," says Claire O"Connor.
An Siopa Feirme in Waterville, Co Kerry, is a "small outlet with a huge heart where consumers can access local and artisan produce, writes Darragh Sinnot. "Ní neart go cur le chéile." There is no strength without unity.
The competition, backed by AIB, closes on Wednesday August 3rd. To nominate your favourite shop go to irishtimes.com/bestshops