Best Barber Shop

Southern Gentleman’s Barbering Company

Runner-up: Circa Barbershop

This Five Points shop has a retro feel and classic service. Along with a trim you can get a shave with a hot lather and warm towel. With their South Hospitality Haircut, after your do’s done, they’ll clean up the scruff on your neck and give you a shoulder massage. Kids and seniors also get discounted prices. Hell, they’ll shine your shoes if you’re into that. 

Honorable mentions: Studio O2, Great Clips

Studio O2 Sally Salazar

Sally Salazar is Best Hair Stylist, and Studio O2 is Best Hair Salon.  Photo by John Carlos

Best Hair Salon

Studio O2

Runner-up: Metropolis Salon & Dry Bar

A great haircut, color or styling session should be an experience. At Studio O2, the contemporary feel and excellent stylists will do you up right. 

Honorable mentions: Shear Indulgence, Capelli Salon

Best Hair Stylist

Sally Salazar — Studio O2

Runner-up: Robin Gottlieb — Robin Gottlieb Hair Studio

With so many stylists in the Capital City, it takes a devoted following for any one stylist to win this category. Sally will hook you up.

Honorable mentions: Mark Ziegler — Five Points Salon, Gregory Garrett — Metropolis

Urban Nirvana

Urban Nirvana wins Best Day Spa. Photo by John Carlos

Best Day Spa

Urban Nirvana

Runner-up: Occo Luxury Spa

To be honest, Nevermind was quite possibly the most influential album of the last half century. Equal parts lo-fi and ferocious, it spoke deeply to the angst of its generation. It … wait, what’s that? Oh, Urban Nirvana. Oh, OK. Yeah, they’ve got great massages, body wraps, facials, scrubs and more.

Honorable mentions: Stacey O Studio, Pura

Best Massage Therapist

Andrea Hutto — Occo Luxury Spa

Runner-up: Josh Coates — Stacey O. Studio

You’ve only got one body. And it’s filled with hundreds of muscles that get abused by use or underuse. Andrea Hutto is apparently the best at keeping your inner wires springy.  

Honorable mentions: Jen Brown — Bliss Massage Therapy, Heather Ferry — Heavenly Hands Massage

Best Yoga Studio

City Yoga

Runner-up: Pink Lotus Yoga Center

City Yoga helps you cultivate strength and balance in not just your body, but your mind and heart as well. Its peaceful, lovely studio is tucked away in Five Points, convenient to lots of areas of the city.

Honorable mentions: Yoga Masala, FIT Columbia 

Best Fitness Club 

MÜV Fitness

Runner-up: Jamie Scott Fitness

MÜV Fitness has six Midlands locations and they’re all well-appointed, with all the cardio and resistance machines you could hope for, a variety of classes — yoga included — and a variety of other amenities — check out those MÜVIE Centers, where you can do your cardio while watching a flick.

Honorable mentions: Planet Fitness, CrossFit Soda City

Best Crossfit

CrossFit Soda City

Runner-up: Carolina Crossfit

When you join CrossFit Soda City, you’re part of the wider Crossfit community. They’ve got discounts for couples, military, law enforcement, first responders and teachers. No matter your occupation, CrossFit Soda City gives people a way to get ripped and a community to belong to.

Honorable mentions: Crossfit Rivalry, Forest Drive Crossfit 

Best Pilates

FIT Columbia

Runner-up: Pure Barre

FIT Columbia offers a variety of strengthening and stretching classes, including aerial yoga, wall yoga, Thai yoga massage and stretch therapy. And while they’re not a Pilates studio per se, Free Times readers think FIT Columbia is tops when it comes to building core strength and balance. 

Honorable mentions: Bikram Yoga, Pilates of Forest Acres

Best Tattoo Artist

Shannon Purvis Barron — Indigo Rose Tattoo

Runner-up: Shane Anderson — Animated Canvas

With a penchant for natural objects and animals, Shannon Purvis Barron is the kind of tattooer who goes beyond putting marks on people’s skin. She’s an artist who depicts the essence of the entity you want immortalize. Maybe that why so many people go to her for permanent dedications to their pets, according to her Instagram. She’s also worked with breast cancer survivors to alter the perception of their scars. She’s a talent worthy of a national stage, but we have her here.

Honorable mentions: Gaia Marika — Mr. Shorty’s Tattoo Emporium, Wayne Munn — Tatway Tattoo

Best Tattoo Studio

Indigo Rose

Runner-up: Animated Canvas

Indigo Rose tattoos in a range of styles, working to ensure your image has not only the proper look but the right feel. You never feel like a mere client they’re trying to get in and out. Whether it’s your idea or some of their unique flash art, Indigo Rose can put on your skin what you’ve got in your heart.

Honorable mentions: Sickle and Moon, Tatway Tattoos

Immaculate Piercing

Sarah Hudson of Columbia gets her ear pierced by Doug Poisson at Immaculate Piercing, winner of Best Piercing Studio. Photo by John Carlos

 

Best Piercing Studio

Immaculate Piercing

Runner-up: Knotty Headz

Ears, nose, eyebrow, lips, belly button, penis, vagina or most anywhere else, Immaculate will put adornment on your body. They also have a wide-ranging jewelry selection at their store. They take pride in their well-trained staff of piercers who go far beyond the state’s requirements for such a job. 

Honorable mentions: Ouch! Piercings and Tattoos

Best Hospital

Lexington Medical Center

Runner-up: Palmetto Health Richland

Lexington’s hospital system continues to be a favorite with readers. We can see why: It offers a full slate of medical care and wellness initiatives, including expert Alzheimer’s care, a birth center, general surgery, weight-loss surgery, a heart center, a cancer center and much more. If you’re sick, they’ll get you well.

Honorable mentions: Palmetto Health Baptist, Palmetto Health Parkridge 

Best Urgent Care

Doctors Care

Runner-up: Lexington Medical Center

Last year, the entire Free Times staff was drug-tested at Doctors Care. So I guess we’ll let you use your own opinion of the clear-headedness of our coverage to judge the validity of their win in this category.  

Honorable mentions: Palmetto Health Parkridge, Palmetto Baptist 

Best Pediatric Care

Sandhills Pediatrics

Runner-up: Palmetto Pediatrics

Any parent will tell you there are few things more stressful than when your children are sick. There’s nothing you want more than to help them get better. Sandhills Pediatric can help. The practice has 19 pediatricians, all of whom are certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.

Honorable mentions: Lexington Pediatric Practice, Pediatric Associates

Best Pain Management Clinic

Palmetto Pain Management

Runner-up: Healthsource Chiropractic

Chronic pain is serious. If you’re suffering, Palmetto Pain Management is a place to start to get some relief. 

Honorable mentions: The Acupuncture Clinic, Vertex PT

Best Dentist

West Columbia Family Dentistry

Runner-up: Forest Acres Dentistry

With three top-notch dentists and a bevy of caring staff, West Columbia Family Dentistry is the gold standard for oral health. In addition to regular cleaning services, they offer everything from crowns to endodontic procedures to dentures to teeth whitening. 

Honorable mentions: Cottingham Family Dentistry, Devine Dentistry 

Best Eye Doctor or Group

Columbia Eye Clinic

Runner-up: Carolina Eye Center

The largest ophthalmology practice in the Midlands — it has some 14 doctors — is also the favorite of Free Times readers. Whether you need laser surgery or just a new pair of glasses, they’ll hook you up. 

Honorable mentions: Devine Eyes, 20!20 Vision

Best Chiropractor

The Joint

Runner-up: Capital City Chiropractic

The Joint was, according to its website, founded with the “vision to transform the traditional, often misunderstood concept of routine chiropractic care by making it more convenient, friendly and affordable.” With three Midlands locations, they do well by that ambition.

Honorable mentions: Eric Nazarenko — Old Mill Chiropractic, Healthsource Chiropractic

Best Orthopedic Practice

Midlands Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery

Runner-up: Palmetto Health USC Orthopedics

We’re not doctors here at Free Times, so we don’t have the accreditation to judge this practice’s claim that they “provide excellent patient care in a private practice setting at a lower cost than hospital systems are able to offer,” but we’re inclined to take Best of Columbia voters’ word for it.

Best Physical Therapy Practice

Drayer Physical Therapy

Runner-up: Pinnacle Physical Therapy

There are so many ways the world can hurt you. Drayer is a national physical therapy specialist that’s grown from one clinic in 2002 to more than 140 today. They offer aquatic therapy, geriatric services, and much more to get and keep your body in working order.

Honorable mentions: Vertex, Vital Energy

Best Dermatology Practice

Columbia Skin Clinic

Runner-up: Carolinas Dermatology

They’ve got two locations in the Columbia area, one near Palmetto Health Richland and another in Irmo. If you happen to commute into town from Camden, they even have a location in the Kershaw County seat. You can get Botox or get screened for skin cancer. Anything having to do with skin, they can take care of it.

Honorable mentions: Pierre Jaffee, MD 

Best Acupuncturist

Li Huang

Runner-up: Meghan Cole — Palmetto Acupuncture

Why is Dr. Li Huang the best-loved acupuncturist among Free Times readers? Maybe because he’s well versed in both Western medicine — having been a surgeon in Beijing — and traditional Chinese acupuncture and herbal medicine. Maybe because he helps patients with a range of conditions from chronic pain to sports injuries. Maybe because he seems like a good guy. Anyway, see him for all your tiny-needle needs. 

Honorable mentions: Martin Herbkersman — Palmetto Acupuncture, Alison Beard — Palmetto Acupuncture

Best Family Practice

Lexington Family Practice

Runner-up: Woodhill Family Practice

With locations all over the Midlands, Lexington Family Practice is always convenient — and they actually care, rather than wanting to get you in and out.

Honorable mentions: Providence Family Medicine, Lake Murray Family Practice

Best Hospice

Agape Hospice House

Runner-up: Heartstrings Hospice

Agape Hospice provides compassionate care in an embracing and faith-based manner. It was founded on providing the most service and comfort possible to residents and their families in those difficult and important days.

Best Orthodontist

Richard Boyd — Boyd Orthodontics

Runner-up: Jim Whitehead — Whitehead Orthodontics

He may make your awkward teenage years even more dentally weird, but you’ll thank Dr. Boyd when you’re grown. Also, if your teeth are busted-looking because your parents didn’t believe in the orthodontist, you can go as an adult as well. 

Honorable mentions: Davis Orthodontics, Green Orthodontics


 

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