Best of Savannah

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Best of Savannah 2013: Shopping & services 

Best Local Clothing Designer

Emily Bargeron

"To say that Emily Bargeron makes original use of a Mexican blanket is to understate the sexy perfection of a simple maxidress in Tijuana tequila tones." — from "Fierce Fashion, Made in Savannah," Connect Savannah, 4/24/13.

Statesboro native Bargeron has captured the hearts of local fashionistas with Mamie Ruth, her colorful line of dresses and separates. Named after her grandma who imparted the importance of individual style, Mamie Ruth employs a bevy of cultural influences that Bargeron calls "music festival chic."

"Woven Mexican blankets, Aztec lines, African tribal prints — I love all of those traditions and bringing them together," says the 28 year-old Georgia Southern grad in her distinctive honeyed drawl. "I also love the whole hippie thing."

click to enlarge Emily Bargeron
  • Emily Bargeron

Bargergon debuted as an emerging designer at Charleston Fashion Week in 2009, and Mamie Ruth's free-spirited designs are now sold in 53 stores around the country including Hawaii, the Hamptons and local boutiques Custard and J. Paige. There will be less bare midriffs and longer hemlines in Mamie Ruth's upcoming fall/winter line, which Bargeron describes as the embodiment of a "space gypsy in Arizona" vibe.

"The typical Mamie Ruth woman is unique. She stands out in a crowd. She likes to travel and have a good time."

Inspired by jam band fests like Coachella and Bonnaroo, Bargeron can often be found frolicking down in front of the stage. She confesses to knocking Grace Potter's tour bus with a bag of Mamie Ruth samples when the rocker was in town last year. She hasn't spotted Potter wearing one of her multi-hued jersey dresses yet, and she's perfectly content seeing her designs on others.

"It makes me so happy when I see people on the street or at a show wearing Mamie Ruth and they're just rocking it," says Bargeron. "I want to make clothes that make people want to dance."

Jessica Leigh Lebos

Runner Up: April Johnston

click to enlarge The cast of artistic characters at Blick
  • The cast of artistic characters at Blick

Best Arts/Crafts Store

Best New Store

When it was announced last summer that Blick Art Materials, a national chain had bought out Primary Art Supply, there was a momentary collective freakout.

But Primary's longtime co-owner Robyn Reeder promised that this wasn't a case of a big bad corporation putting a little local shop out of business: Blick had offered jobs to all of the employees of the independent art store that had occupied 14 E. Broughton for almost 20 years. It also vowed not only to maintain Primary's practices of showcasing artists and giving back to the community but to ramp them up tenfold.

"It'll be like Primary on steroids," Reeder told Connect in June 2012.

Blick Art Materials opened its magnificent new space down the block in August, with massive amounts of inventory and a spacious gallery loft. The Primary spirit remains palpable in the quirky gift selection and trademark giant paint tubes on the wall. Judging by all the reports and your votes, Blick has made good on its commitments to its employees and local artists.

"We're all still here," says manager Rob Caufield, who worked as a buyer at the old Primary. "The company gives us a lot of opportunity to run the store the way we think is best and to do outreach in the community."

Events have included in-store printmaking workshops and revolving exhibits featuring the likes of Jose Ray and the Savannah Fiber Guild. The corporate backing has also allowed the store to sponsor outside happenings around the city like the A-Town Get Town festival last March.

"While we are the largest family-owned business in the industry, it is our being in stock, service, and community involvement that set us apart from the rest," said Ed Ogorzaly, Retail President of Blick Art Materials.

The latest Blick news is that the Illinois-based company has acquired Utrecht, another national chain with a Savannah outlet. The new partnership will allow Blick to market signature Utrecht products, and the Utrecht store on the opposite end of town at 111 MLK Blvd. will now carry more than $100K of additional inventory. How's that for flexing its muscles?

Jessica Leigh Lebos

Runner Up, Arts/Crafts Store: Michael's

Runner Up, New Store: Graveface Records

Best Furniture Store

Best Window Display

24e

It's been quite a year for Ruel Joyner and company at 24e. Business has been through the roof, due not only to the range of excellent merchandise in the store but through a concerted effort to make 24e not just a store, but a community hangout and networking hub. An extensive remodel downstairs and upstairs in the historic building has also added a good bit of punch.

Runner-up, Furniture: Whelan's

Runner-up: Window: Paris Market

Best Indie Bookstore

E. Shaver Booksellers

This Savannah institution combines a wide breadth of knowledge with a truly fun browsing experience, all on one of our most picturesque squares.

Runner-up: The Book Lady

Best Comic Book Store

Home Run Cards and Comics

This downtown institution ably made the necessary technological transition away from being a video store — and back into print! Go figure.

Runner-up: Comics and More

Best Musical Instrument Store

Portman's Music Superstore

It's fun to just wander around admiring the various guitars and drum sets. Also — keep this in mind for Christmas — lots of cool musically-oriented gift ideas all over the place.

Best Cigar/Tobacco Shop

Ye Ole Tobacco Shop

Smoke signals keep risin' from both Ye Ole's Bay Street and Eisenhower locations.

Runner-up: Savannah Cigars

Best Motorcycle Dealer

Savannah Harley-Davidson

The showcase store is at I-95 and 204 but you should go buy a Harley at their River Street location so you can just rumble down the cobblestones.

Runner-up: Motorini

Best Lawn and Garden Store

Home Depot

The big dog is back for another win.

Runner-up: Hester & Zipperer

Best Scooter Dealer

Motorini

Set in a restored classic old gas station on Drayton, this is your place to get a new Vespa or Piaggio scooter, or maybe a pre-owned little beauty.

Runner-up: Star Bike of Savannah

Best Bicycle Shop

Perry Rubber Bike Shop

This place is cool just to browse in, for its line of top-flight, funky and cool bikes in great designs.

Runner-up: Bicycle Link

Best Place to Buy New Car

Best Place to Buy a Used Car

Grainger Honda

From their sprawling hub on Chatham Parkway, Grainger is wheelin' and dealin' all kinds of Hondas, new and used, and is a perennial winner.

Runner-up, New: JC Lewis

Runner-up, Used: Vaden Nissan

Best Auto Repair

Mall Auto

A friendly, informal atmosphere combines with honest service for a satisfying customer experience.

Runner-up: Dixie Motors

Best Car Wash

Savannah Car Wash

A Fastpass gets you unlimited washes for about $40 a month. There's a Jiffy Lube inside. Get yer wash on!

Runner-up: Auto Shine

Best Rental Car Company

Enterprise

With six neighborhood locations and one at the airport, Enterprise has got you covered however you roll.

Runner-up: Avis

Best Military Discount

Lowe's

Supporting the troops by putting their money where their mouth is.

Runner-up: Bass Pro Shops

Best Place to Buy a Boat

Bass Pro Shops

Their core marine product is still the Tracker Marine Group, which back in the day was the first boat/motor/trailer package you could buy.

Runner-up: Boater's Paradise

Best Toy Store

Toys 'R' Us

Still Savannah's favorite choice for wholesome kid's entertainment and activity, from trendy toys and video games to good old-fashioned bikes.

Runner-up: Planet Fun

Best Daycare

Calvary Day School

Calvary expertly balances attentive care with the resources to serve a very large number of families.

Runner-up:Maggie's Morning School

Best Frame Shop

Trends & Traditions

A bigger, better space on Waters Avenue means even more framing options for ya, whether for casual decorative purposes or preserving that treasured, irreplaceable work of art or heirloom.

Runner-up: Frame of Mind

Best Boutique

Best Women's Clothing Store

Red Clover

Since 2007 this hotspot at the corner of Bull and East Perry Lane has clothed Savannah women with a blend of class and sass, always looking for the coolest indie designers.

Runner-up, Boutique: Gaucho

Runner-up, Women's: Civvies

Best Men's Clothing Store

J. Parker Limited

Whether the Broughton Street spot or the Waters Avenue location, J. Parker has clothed Savannah's classiest gents for decades.

Runner-up: Arc

Best Thrift/Vintage Clothing Store

Civvies

Take a walk up to the second floor of this Broughton location to find a wealth of fashion forward, pre-owned clothes and accessories for girls and guys, all in immaculate shape.

Runner-up: Goodwill

Best Children's Clothing Store

Sara Jane Children's Boutique

A sunny, friendly shop in the beautiful Victorian District.

Runner-up: Punch & Judy

Best Jeweler

Levy Jewelers

Of course the big news in the world of Levy is their move down Broughton Street into the primo space at Bull and Broughton in the old Il Pasticcio storefront. It would have been pretty sad for that spot to get sucked up by a national chain, or even worse, be vacant. Thank goodness for local businesses stepping up and making things happen!

Runner-up: Harkleroad Jewelers

Best Local Jewelry Designer

Danielle Hughes Rose

Danielle owns this category, having won every year since its inception. Her unique brand of sleek, strong, yet sexy metal work keeps clients interested — and interesting!

Runner-up: Marion Harkleroad

Best Eyewear Store

LensCrafters

With a Twelve Oaks and an Oglethorpe Mall location, folks can get an eye exam, some frames, and still have time to do some shopping.

Runner-up: Boland Eye Center

Best Shoe Store

Globe Shoe Company

Another one of those great Savannah institutions, Globe has managed to stay trendy with the times while always respecting its grand tradition, stretching back to the 19th century.

Runner-up: Fleet Feet Sports

Best Bead Store

Epiphany Beads and Jewelry Studio

Formerly Bead Dreamer, this little southside spot delivers the baubles.

Runner-up: Perlina Bead Shop

Best Costume Store

Acme Costumes

Yeah, this is the place to be for your garden variety Jack Sparrow outfit or sexy Halloween garb.

Runner-up: Party City

Best Novelty Store

Sunset Novelties

Couples-friendly adult store, with smoking accessories. As in "smokin'" and as in actual smoking. Uh, just go check 'em out.

Runner-up: The Comedy Store

Best Green Business

The Sentient Bean

One of Savannah's first truly green-conscious businesses, The Bean continues to do the right thing by selling organic, Fair Trade coffee, recycling like crazy, and sponsoring lots of cool things in the community. Their expansive vegetarian/vegan menu concentrates on locally-sourced, fresh ingredients. And two words, people: ORGANIC LAGER.

Runner-up: Green Truck Pub

Best Gift Store

Polka Dots

Get yer Vera Bradley stuff, Lily Pulitzer gifts and more at this cute spot on Whitemarsh Island.

Runner-up: Savannah Bee Company/Paris Market

Best Surf Shop

High Tide Surf Shop

A Tybee institution since the forming of the oceans, many eons ago. Well, not really, it was 1984. But still! They've been taking care of your surf/beach needs for a long time.

Runner-up: Waves

Best Antiques Shop

Habersham Antiques Market

In the old Smith Brothers location on the edge of Baldwin Park, the 70 or so dealers who vend out of Habersham Antiques offer a range of home goods from across the centuries, as well as an impressive variety of valuable collectibles.

Runner-up: Jere's Antiques

Best Grocery Store

Publix

Service with a smile, fully stocked aisles, gleaming tiles for miles and miles. Also a great place to buy groceries.

Runner-up: Kroger

Best Gourmet Grocery Store

Fresh Market

You really could do all your shopping here — produce, meats, dairy, frozen products. And real MEXICAN COKE.

Runner-up: Brighter Day

Best Health Food Store

Brighter Day Natural Foods

The Brodhead family has run this seminal Savannah institution for a quarter century, anchoring the south end of Forsyth Park long before it became hip. They made it hip!

Runner-up: GNC

Best Sporting Goods Store

Bass Pro Shops

This Savannah Mall anchor store has everything for the old school outdoorsman, from angling to hunting to camping.

Runner-up: Half Moon Outfitters

Best Lighting Store

Circa Lighting

From basic to designer, Circa — in the Downtown Design District on Whitaker near the park— provides personalized service in being the light of your life.

Runner-up: 24e

Best Maid Service

Green Methods

This locally-owned eco-friendly cleaning service relies on only natural cleaning products and methods, to keep your work or home environment safe for children, pets, and everybody.

Runner-up: Merry Maids

Best Mall/Shopping Center

Oglethorpe Mall

Savannah's first mall has experienced several upgrades and remains a vibrant, popular place to shop.

Runner-up: Savannah Mall

Best Florist

John Davis Florist

A key business owner in the Victorian District, John's been in the flower business since the '80s and really knows his stamen from his pistil. His arrangements have graced many a local wedding, bar mitzvah and graduation.

Runner-up: Garden on the Square Best Pet Store

Best Pet Boutique

TailsSpin Pet Supplies

Quickly becoming one of Savannah's most beloved and most high-profile small businesses — no small accomplishment for one based outside downtown — this Habersham Village canine and feline hotspot now has a location in Pooler, as well as one in — wait for it — Macon!

Runner-up, Pet Store: PetSmart

Runner-up: Boutique: The Grateful Hounds

Best Pawn Shop

Welsh Pawn

Celebrating a century of locally-owned goodness, Welsh Pawn now has three locations with plenty of jewelry, coins, instruments, bikes, tools, and firearms to choose from.

Runner-up: Gold Mine

Best Pet Grooming

Diva Dogs Pet Grooming Salon

Full service grooming, a la carte, nail painting, deep conditioning. And two words: BLUEBERRY FACIAL.

Runner-up: Top Dog Grooming Spa

Best Bed & Breakfast

The Gastonian

Famed for its delightful gardens as well as its world-class hospitality, the Gastonian is in an elite class of luxury accommodation. Now owned by the HLC Hotels group, the Gastonian was voted one of the 50 best small hotels in the world by the readers of Condé Nast.

Runner-up: Hamilton-Turner Inn

Best Hotel

Mansion on Forsyth Park

This AAA Four Diamond property routinely wins awards for overall hospitality, service and cleanliness, not to mention a killer location right on the park.

Runner-up: Bohemian Hotel

Best Lawyer

Best Law Firm

Michael G. Hostilo

While this personal injury attorney catapulted to notoriety in a bizarre hostage standoff involving a former client, keep in mind that there's never too much notoriety for a lawyer. Hostilo has a long list of satisfied clients dating back to 1993.

Runner-up:< James Byrne

Best Local Insurance Agency

Sam Sharpe/State Farm

This Southside-based agent gets rave customer reviews.

Runner-up: Bernard Williams

Best Real Estate Agent

Chelsea Phillips

This Keller Williams agent is bringing the new domiciles like a BOSS.

Runner-up: Don Callahan

Best Real Estate Agency

Keller Williams Realty

This agency routinely dominates this category year after year.

Runner-up:Celia Dunn

Best Local Moving Company

Two Men and a Truck

Come on. They win this category so often, they've got to have more than two guys by now.

Best Self Storage

24 Hour Self Store

Hey, the name says it all. They got it ALL DAY.

Runner-up: Chatham Parkway Self Storage

Best Local Homebuilder

J.T. Turner Construction

If there's a project going on in the area, chances are good ol' JT is in on it. Yeah, we're on a first-name basis.

Runner-up: Landmark 24

Best Landscaper

Savannah Green Dirt Design

From budgeting to planning to landscaping to maintenance, these guys have all the dirt on your project. Get it?

Runner-up: DLG Land Management

Best Wireless Provider

Verizon Wireless

Again, the superior network and call quality garner a repeat win for Verizon in this category.

Runner-up: T-Mobile

Best Bank

Wells Fargo Bank

They used to be a staple of the West Coast, but aggressive expansion has put them into the mix in the South.

Runner-up: Suntrust

Best Taxi Service

Savannah Pedicab

Refreshingly, we get to write about non-motorized transportation in this space. These human-powered taxis have become downtown Savannah institutions, on the move.

Runner-up: Yellow Cab

Best Limo Service

Coastal Limousine

These are the guys to call when you gotta class it up a bit.

Runner-up: Savannah Limousine

Best Place to Work

Gulfstream Aerospace

Not only one of Savannah's largest employers, but certainly the one with the highest level of across the board employee satisfaction, morale and sense of shared mission.

Runner-up: Savannah Pedicab

Store or Business You're Most Sorry to See Go

Sol Restaurant

Look at the bright side: Blowin' Smoke has moved into the same space and is doling out some southwestern yummies there, partially in honor of the previous incarnation.

Runner-up:< Saigon on Broughton

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