Best Place for Fresh Produce
Soda City Market
Runner-up: State Farmers Market
How awesome is it to be able to stroll up and down Main Street on Saturday morning and pick up your produce for the week? Pretty awesome.
Honorable mention: Publix, City Roots Farm, The Fresh Market, Cayce Farmer’s Market, Rosewood Market
Best Natural Food Store
Runner-up: Whole Foods
Not everything at Trader Joe’s is natural, but to get your hands on some fine organic goods at an agreeable price, this popular market is a great place to go.
Honorable Mention: Rosewood Market, Earth Fare, 14 Carrot Nominee
Best Nutritional Supplement Store
Runner-up: Vitamin Shoppe
If you’re looking for people who know their herbs, vitamins and other supplements, look no further than Rosewood Market. They’ve seen fads come and go, and they have a depth of knowledge that will suit you well in your quest to be happy and healthy.
Honorable mention: Garner’s Natural Life, Nutrishop
Best Beer and Liquor Store
Why stop at a beer store and a liquor store when you have Green’s? The selection of craft beer and imports impresses on one side, with a robust array of drafts for growler fills, and the broad and affordable assembly of spirits on the other side won’t disappoint you either.
Honorable mention: Total Wine & More, Sam’s Fine Wine & Spirits
Best Wine Store
Total Wine & More
With around 8,000 different wines to choose from, Total Wine can seem a tad overwhelming. But don’t fret. Take your time, take advantage of the store’s knowledgeable staff, and you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
Honorable mention: Morganelli’s, Cellar on Greene, Vino Garage
Best Store for Used Books
Runner-up: The Book Dispensary
Sure, you could download a book on your iPad or Kindle or Nook or whatever. But some of us still want to read books. You know, made of paper. Part of the fun of getting a new book is the hunt. And at 2nd & Charles, you can spend hours perusing thousands of used (and some new) books, until you find that gem you’ve been looking for. #realbooks
Honorable mention: Rainy Day Books, Stepping Stone Thrift Store
Best Place for New Comic Books
Scratch N Spin
Runner-up: Punk Monkey Comics
The beauty of Scratch N Spin, apart from the ability to buy pretty much all the brand new comics titles you could want, is that it’s also a one-stop shop for music, games and collectibles. Rejoice!
Honorable mention: Comic Ray’s, Seven Sense Intl
Best Place for Used Comic Books
2nd & Charles
Runner-up: Heroes & Dragons
2nd & Charles has raised its comic book game significantly in recent years. Aside from a decent selection of new titles, the book store off Harbison Boulevard has a vast selection of used comics from major companies like Marvel and DC, as well as from small independents. A large number of their used comics are available for $1 a pop.
Honorable mention: Punk Monkey Comics, Scratch N Spin, Cosmic Ray’s
Best Dry Cleaner
Tripp’s Fine Cleaners
Runner-up: Lexington Dry Cleaners
Since 1967, Tripp’s Fine Cleaners has been treating its customers like royalty. If you’re ever unsatisfied — and odds are you won’t be — just return your garment and they’ll make it right.
Honorable mention: Ed Robinson Laundry and Dry Cleaners
Best Pest Control
Clark’s Pest Control
Runner-up: Home Pest Control
Nobody likes pests. Fortunately there are places like Clark’s that’ll take care of things like that for you. Found some kind of unidentifiable monstrosity sitting in your attic? Snap a photo and send it in. Clark’s got you covered.
Honorable mention: Modern Exterminating, Cayce Exterminating
Best Alarm/Security Company
Gone are the days when a home security system was simply a “burglar alarm.” Home security in 2015 is high tech stuff, and ADT’s got the goods.
Honorable mention: Family First Security, Security Specialists
Best Staffing Agency
Runner-up: Recruiting Solutions
Whether you’re looking to fill a temporary position or hire a new full-time employee, Apple One is ready and able to find you just the right person.
Honorable mention: Roper Personnel, Snelling Staffing Agency, Trojan Labor
Best Equipment Rental Center
Palmetto Party Rentals
Runner-up: Thompson Rental Services
Getting married? Having a party? Palmetto Party Rentals probably has what you need.
Honorable mention: Northern Tool, Richbourg’s Rentals
Rental Center Celebrations
Runner-up: Party Reflections
Need 150 chairs? Fifteen serving bowls? A 110-foot-long tent? From corporate events to weddings and festivals, Celebrations has you covered.
Honorable mention: Thompson Rental Services, Rentzall Equipment Rental
Best Computer Repair
Runner-up: Silicon Solutions
Best Buy’s Geek Squad offers a variety of services including protection, consultation, installation, repair and more. No worries, the squad’s got your back.
Honorable mention: iDavid Computers
Best Smartphone Repair
Polite, non-judgmental and ready to repair pretty much any problem you have with your smartphone — and to turn it around fast — SmartPhone Medic is the place to turn if you’ve exceeded your warranty.
Honorable mention: PC Doctor, Cellular Source, iDavid, Sprint, Cellular Connections, Hornsby Computer, SC Computer Doc
Best Gamecock Store
Garnet & Black Traditions
Runner-up: Addam’s University Bookstore
College football season is just a few weeks away. And what you need, Gamecock Fan, is gear. Lots of gear. Jerseys, shirts, hats, pants, car flags, rain ponchos — and it all needs to be adorned with USC logos. There are plenty of places in town to get your gear, but Garnet and Black Traditions remains a favorite of Free Times readers.
Honorable mention: Miss Cocky
Best Cycle Shop
Runner-up: Cycle Center
Located on Devine Street in Columbia, Outspokin’ Bicycles runs the gamut for those with cycle needs. The shop has road and performance bikes, mountain bikes, bikes designed specifically for women, a host of bikes for kids and more. Outspokin’ also employs a team of mechanics for all manner of bike tune-ups and repairs.
Honorable mention: Summit Cycles
Best Cab Service
Runner-up: Checker Yellow
When Uber launched its service in the Midlands last year, the company called itself a “rideshare,” arguing it shouldn’t be regulated the same way as taxis. But state authorities and taxi companies alike said Uber should follow the same rules as cabs. So it’s both fitting and a little ironic that the voters of Columbia chose Uber as the best cab service. In any case, they’ll get you where you need to go.
Honorable mention: Capitol City Cab, Shaw’s Taxi
Best Limousine Service
5 Star Limousine and Sedan Service
Runner-up: First Class Limo
If you just want to get from point A to point B, you can call a cab or book a ride with Uber. But if you want to pull up in style? That’s when you call 5 Star Limo, which offers luxury rides at fair prices.
Honorable mention: Signature Transportation
Best Guided Tour Experience
Runner-up: Adventure Carolina
If haven’t glanced at the calendar of guided tours offered year-round by Historic Columbia, do yourself a favor. The organization’s tours don’t just go through the historic houses the foundation keeps up, but also through various other sites and neighborhoods, taking a hands-on look at the history and culture of our city.
Honorable mention: Two Gals and a Fork Food Tours, Columbia Food Tours, Capital City Haunts
Best Outdoors/Camping Gear Store
Runner-up: Mast General Store
When you’re making a serious outdoor purchase — hiking boots, a backpack — you don’t want to gamble with buying online. You want to check out The Backpacker, where the knowledgeable staff will get you suited up.
Honorable mention: Half Moon Outfitters, Sportsman’s Warehouse
Best River Outfitter
Half Moon Outfitters
Runner-up: Adventure Carolina
You’d be ill advised to try and take on the great outdoors without being fully prepared. That’s where Half-Moon comes in. With everything from climbing shoes to ski gear, this shop is sure to supply you with everything you need for your outdoor adventure.
Honorable mention: River Runner, Get Your Gear On
Best Golf Course
Runner-up: Forest Lake
This 27-hole course offers panoramic views, rolling hills, and beautiful oaks and pines. With affordable membership plans, too, it’s no wonder Best Of Columbia voters love it.
Honorable mention: Golden Hills, Columbia Country Club
Runner-up: Jake’s Landing
This marina aims to make your next Lake Murray outing as effortless (read: awesome) as possible. With its pontoon rentals, gassing docks, dry storage, bathhouse, wet slips and on-site dining, we’d say their mission has been accomplished.
Honorable mention: Lake Murray Boat Club, Southshore
Best Sporting Goods Store
Runner-up: Todd & Moore
Sure, Academy Sports has whatever you need in regard to athletic and outdoor equipment — baseball, basketball, soccer and football accessories; all manner of athletic shoes; hunting gear, fishing supplies and camping tools. But you know what else they have, parents? Backpacks. More than 140 different backpacks priced under $40. Remember that as you do your back-to-school shopping.
Honorable mention: Dick’s Sporting Goods
Best Hobby Shop
If you’re a hobbyist, it makes sense to shop at a place that has the word “Hobby” right there in its name. Hobby Lobby has materials for all types of hobbies, including pine car racing, train sets, stamp collecting, coin collecting, model plane building, baseball card collecting, doll making and more.
Honorable mention: Firefly, Jo Ann Fabrics