Best Bed & Breakfast: Ballastone Inn
14 E. Oglethorpe Ave.
Luxury in a four-story antebellum mansion that has all the modern conveniences, with all of yesteryear’s charm - that’s the Ballastone Inn.
The inn was once a private house built in 1838 by a cotton factor and banker. "The original owner had 12 children," says the Ballastone’s evening manager Melissa Williams. "We have 16 rooms in all. They needed a lot of space for all those children."
The land where the hotel stands formed part of the southern boundary of the original settlement founded by General James E. Oglethorpe in 1733. The land was eventually sold to George Anderson, who had the house built for his family.
The house stayed in the Anderson family until 1883, when it was purchased by Capt. Henry Blun, who served in the Confederate Army at Fort Pulaski and with forces on Tybee and Wilmington islands. Blun hired the noted architect William Gibbons Preston to enlarge the house to its present size.
The building later fell into disrepute, and by the late 1920s, changed from a boarding house to a bordello known for many police raids. By the 1940s, it was used as housing for people who came to Savannah to work in the war effort.
The Girl Scouts of America bought the house in 1969 to use as administrative offices, but in 1980 it was sold to private owners, who converted it into Savannah’s first bed-and-breakfast inn. It is furnished with antiques and authentic reproductions.
In 1997, The Ballastone was restored to its original glory and awarded the coveted 4 diamond, 4 star designation. Today, it’s owned by Jennifer and Jim Salandi.
In addition to lodging, the inn offers Southern gourmet cuisine, including a full breakfast, afternoon teas, and pre-dinner hors oeuvres. The inn also has a bar and that rarest-of-the-rare amenity in Savannah -- off-street parking.
Guests from around the world stay at the Ballastone. "They come from Australia, China, Germany end all over the States," Williams says.
"They’re blown away by how beautiful this place is," she says. "They love the staff and are amazed at the spaciousness of the rooms. We also have a courtyard where guests can relax." -- LS
Runner-up: The Gastonian
Best Furniture Store and Best Window Display: 24e
24 E. Broughton St.;
A top-notch furniture store with a fascinating and ever-changing window display.
Runner-up Furniture Store: Rooms to Go
Runner-up Window Display: Primary Art Supply
Best Thrift/Vintage Clothing Store and Best Place to Use a Military Discount: Goodwill Industries of the Coastal Empire
Goodwill has thrift shops located throughout the area where it’s possible to find some real gems -- including designer duds.
Runner-up Thrift/Vintage: Civvies
Runner-up Military Discount: Savannah Children’s Theatre
Best Video Rental Store: Blockbuster Video
The leader in recent releases, classic hits and video game rentals.
Runner-up: Hollywood Video
Best Bookstore: Barnes & Noble
Books, magazines, CDs, music and gift items, all in one delightful place.
Runner-up: E. Shaver Bookseller
Best Musical Instrument Store: Portman’s Music Superstore
7650 Abercorn St.
Truly a "super" store, with a wide selection of instruments, music and all things music-related.
Runner-up: Rody’s Music
Best Record/CD Store: Best Buy
7927 Abercorn St.
A wide selection plus low prices equals the best buy.
Runner-up: Silly Mad CDs
Best Shoe Store: Globe Shoe Company
17 E. Broughton St.
Globe’s customers put this shop in the winner’s circle year after year after year.
Runner-up: Rack Room Shoes
Best Cigar/Tobacco Shop: Ye Olde Tobacco Shop
280 Eisenhower Dr.
130 E. Bay St.
Two locations, one downtown and the other in Midtown.
Runner-up: Savannah Cigars Inc.
Best Lawn & Garden Store: Hester & Zipperer Lawn & Garden
6719 Skidaway Rd.
Flowers, plants, tools and sound advice on how to use them.
Runner-up: Home Depot
Best Motorcycle/Scooter Dealer: Savannah Harley Davidson
6 W. Gateway Blvd.
Get your motor running and head out on the highway.
Runner-up: Honda Yamaha of Savannah
Best Place to Buy a New Car or Buy a Used Car: Southern Motors Honda of Savannah
10300 Abercorn St.
Our readers feel they give the best deals and follow-up service.
Runner-up New Car: Southern Toyota
Runner-up Used Car: Vaden Automotive
Best Automobile Repair: Savannah Tire
They do a lot more than sell tires.
Runner-up: Dixie Motors Inc.
Best Toy Store: Toys R Us
7400 Abercorn St.
I don’t want to just shop there, I want to live there.
Runner-up: Sunset Novelties
Best Day Care: Maggie’s Morning School
6610 Abercorn St.
A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, Maggie’s is the best place for kiddies like you and me!
Runner-up: Savannah Christian Preparatory School
Best Arts/Crafts Store: Michael’s Arts & Crafts
8108 Abercorn St.
Feeling creative? Michael’s has all the tools and materials you need to bring out the artist inside.
Runner-up: Primary Art Supply
Best Eyewear Store: LensCrafters
5500 Abercorn St.
IF YOU’RE STILL HAVING TROUBLE READING THIS, IT MAY BE TIME TO VISIT LENSCRAFTERS.
Runner-up: Uptown Eye Care, Inc.
Best Women’s Clothing Store: Bleu Belle
205 W. Broughton St.
Style -- they got it!
Runner-up: Terra Cotta
Best Mens’ Clothing Store: J. Parker Limited
19 W. Broughton St.
4713 Waters Ave.
The finest in menswear.
Runner-up: John B. Rourke
Best Jeweler: Levy Jewelers
The place to go when you need some sparkle in your life.
Runner-up: Zia Boutique
Best Costume Store: Acme Costumes
2604 U.S. Hwy 80 West
You can be whatever you want, because if they don’t already have the costume, they’ll make one.
Runner-up: Party City
Best Antique Shop: Jere’s Antiques
9 N. Jefferson St.
Rare English and Continental furniture from 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Runner-up: Habersham Antiques
Best Grocery Store: Publix
Each store has the freshest produce and meats, friendly cashiers and a knock-out deli
Best Gourmet Grocery Store: The Fresh Market
5525 Abercorn St.
Everything truly is fresh, and there is so much to choose from.
Runner-up: Whole Foods Market
Best Health Food Store: Brighter Day Natural Foods
1102 Bull St.
Not just a grocery but a health center with a certified nutritionist and clerks who are trained to answer health questions.
Runner-up: The Fresh Market
Best Lighting Store: Pace Lighting
131 Southern Blvd.
A designer showroom with lighting options in kitchen, bath, outdoor and dining areas.
Runner-up: Circa Lighting
Best Maid Service: Merry Maids
1200 Shannon Ave.
The winner year after year in this category. Maybe that’s why they’re so merry!
Best Shopping Center/Mall: Oglethorpe Mall
It’s not just the shops, it’s that huge food court that brings people in.
Runner-up: Savannah Mall
Best Florist: Kiwi Fleur
4503 Habersham St
Owner and floral designer Vicki Sepielli created designs for visiting royalty while living in New Zealand and now creates floral treasures for residents of Savannah.
Runner-up: Garden on the Square
Best Photography Service: Christine Hall Photography
315-C Johnny Mercer Blvd.
Whether capturing a portrait or an entire wedding, Christine Hall Photography brings it all into focus.
Runner-up: Bay Camera Company
Best Pawn Shop: Welsh Pawn Shop Inc.
In this economy, it’s great to know there’s a place to find bargains.
Runner-up: Cash America Pawn
Best Pet Store: Petsmart
Toys, medicine, grooming, crates, even the latest in pet fashion -- smart pets know this is the place to go.
Best Hotel: The Westin Savannah Harbor
1 Resort Dr.
A luxurious hotel with a classy restaurant, its own golf course and a spa.
Runner-up: The Mansion on Forsyth Park
Best Real Estate Agency: Mopper-Stappen Realty
31 W. Congress St.
A company that specializes in historic, commercial and residential real estate sales, leasing and rentals.
Runner-up: Seabolt Realty
Best Real Estate Agent: Claudia Armbrister, Re-Max Savannah
A former health care professional, Claudia has the ability to evaluate all aspects of a client’s needs, both emotional and physical.
Runner-up: Andrea Re
Best Local Homebuilder: J.T. Turner Construction Co. Inc.
2250 E. Victory Dr., Ste. 104
Known for high quality craftsmanship and service, J.T. Turner is licensed to build in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida.
Runner-up: Fred Williams
Best Cellular Service/Company: Verizon Wireless
America’s most reliable network.
Runner-up: AT & T
Best Bank and Best Place to Work: Wachovia
Once again, readers of Connect have chosen Wachovia as the best place to keep their money, and now Wachovia’s employees say it’s the best place in Savannah to work.
Runner-up Bank: Suntrust
Runner-up Best Place to Work: Savannah College of Art and Design
Best Rental Car Company: Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Another long-time winner, Enterprise has clean, reliable cars.
Runner-up: Savannah Car & Rental
Best Taxi Service: Yellow Cab
When you need a lift, Yellow Cab is happy to oblige.
Runner-up: Crab Cab
Best Law Firm: Hunter Maclean
200 E. Saint Julian St.
Not just the largest law firm in Savannah, HunterMaclean is the largest law firm in the state of Georgia outside of Atlanta.
The firm, which also maintains an office in Brunswick, represents a wide variety of companies and individuals throughout Georgia, South Carolina, the Southeast and the entire United States. Areas of practice include corporate, business, real estate, employment, maritime, tax and litigation
In recent years, the firm has expanded its business practice areas to include health care, employee benefits, immigration, bankruptcy and environmental law. HunterMaclean has served Savannah for more than 100 years.
Runner–up: The Herndon Law Firm
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