Two Men and a Truck

Two Men and a Truck is voted Best Moving Company.

Blossom Shop

Best Florist goes to Blossom Shop.

Best After-School Program

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands

Runner-up: The Karate Dojo

Since 1959, the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Midlands have aimed to help youth reach their full potential as productive citizens. Collectively, the organization serves youth and families by operating 46 clubs, eight summer camps and a teen center from Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry and Richland counties.

Honorable mentions: Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Hammond PLUS Programs

Best Place for Music Lessons

Columbia Arts Academy | Lexington School of Music

Runner-up: Freeway Music, LLC

These two sister locations combine to form South Carolina’s largest music school, offering lessons in guitar, piano, voice, singing, drums, bass, banjo, mandolin and ukulele, along with rock band classes.

Honorable mentions: USC String School, Carolina Music Academy

Best Martial Arts School

Capital Karate

Runner-up: Columbia Martial Arts and Fitness

Capital Karate will teach you or your kids the way of the empty hand, yes. But it also offers classes in krav maga and other martial arts, too.

Honorable mentions: Legacy Martial Arts, TNT Martial Arts & Fitness

Best Gymnastics/Cheerleading School

Carolina Gymnastics Center

Runner-up: ACX American Cheer X-Treme

Carolina Gymnastics Center is about more than just the technical aspects of helping children reach their potential. “We will use the sport of gymnastics to help each child gain greater self-confidence and a more positive self-image,” the center’s website states. Right on.

Honorable mentions: Brussell’s Gymnastics, Empire Gymnastics Training Center

Best Continuing Education Institution

University of South Carolina

Runner-up: Midlands Technical College

Yes, USC offers more than 250 graduate and doctoral programs across 13 different colleges and schools. But it also boasts a robust continuing education program that can help you get into college, get ahead at work or simply learn something new.

Honorable mentions: Columbia College, Exceed Real Estate School

Best Bank or Credit Union

Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union

Runner-up: AllSouth Federal Credit Union

OK, we get it. You like to keep your money wadded up and stuffed in an old Folgers coffee can in the hall closet. But hear us out: You need somewhere a little (OK, a lot) more secure to park your money, and maybe get some reward points along the way. Palmetto Citizens is just such a place. They’ve got locations across the Midlands ready to serve you.

Honorable mentions: First Citizens Bank, South Carolina Federal Credit Union

Best Mortgage Lender

Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union

Runner-up: Guild Mortgage Company

The purchasing of a home is an extremely big financial decision for most people. Palmetto Citizens can guide you in the right direction. Whether you are buying a new house or looking to refinance your current mortgage to lower your rate and payments, this credit union has experts ready to help you.

Honorable mentions: Mortgage Network, Inc.; Metro Mortgage Corporation

Best Real Estate Agency

The ART of Real Estate

Runner-up: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Looking for a townhome? A condo? A starter home? A suburban palace? The ART of Real Estate, the city’s premier boutique real estate broker, can show you — and sell you — one in any area of town.

Honorable mentions: ERA Wilder Realty, Keller Williams  

Best Real Estate Agent

Jeff Lawler

Runner-up: Sarah Bennett

There’s a prominent saying on Realtor Jeff Lawler’s website: “Leave it to Lawler.” That about sums it up. Whether you’re buying a home or looking to sell, Lawler, who is with Coldwell Banker, can assist you every step of the way.

Honorable mentions: Olivia Cooley, Mary Lane Sloan

Best Heating and Air Service

Cool Care Heating and Air

Runner-up: Cassell Brothers Heating & Cooling

In the Midlands, both heating and air conditioning are pretty much a necessity. Cool Care will keep your HVAC systems in top working order.

Honorable mentions: 2nd Wind Heating & Air Conditioning, Kaminer Heating and Cooling

Best Home Builder

Mungo Homes

Runner-up: Great Southern Homes

There’s a reason you see a Mungo development around seemingly every corner in Columbia: they build good homes, and they’ve been recognized by Builder magazine and the National Association of Home Builders for doing so.

Honorable mentions: Callaway Construction Co., Celtic Works, Inc.

Best Landscaping Company

KB Landscaping

Runner-up: Blue Moon Landscaping

Judging by the before-and-after pictures dotting the company’s Facebook page — with yards that are ragged and dotted with dirt patches transformed into lush, green spaces — they’ve got what it takes to get your own outdoor areas looking right.

Honorable mentions: Live Oaks Lawn Care, Trifecta Lawn Care

Best Moving Company

Two Men and a Truck

Runner-up: Soda City Movers

The fastest-growing franchised moving company does well in the Columbia market. Their workers operate by the “Grandma Rule”: “To treat everyone the way you would want your Grandma to be treated.” No wonder they won the hearts of Best Of voters.

Honorable mentions: Senior RightSizing, Gentlemen Movers

Best Pest Control

Modern Exterminating Co Inc

Runner-up: Clark’s Termite & Pest Control

Modern Exterminating is that company that sometimes places those cockroach ads on the Rant & Rave page of this paper. If you hire them, that’s probably the only time you’ll ever see a cockroach.

Honorable mentions: Cayce Exterminating, Terminix

Best Plumbing Repair

Superior Plumbing & Gas

Runner-up: Freedom Plumbing

OK, we know that when you have a plumbing issue your first inclination might be to call your Uncle Bill to take a look at it. The problem is your Uncle Bill won’t show up for three days and has a raging drinking problem. Don’t call Uncle Bill. Call Superior Plumbing and Gas. They’ll show up on time, keep things clean and do the job right every time.

Honorable mentions: Castle Services, Stormy Plumbing

Best Roofer

Crescent Construction, LLC

Runner-up: Burgin Roofing Services

Into every life, a little hail must fall. And when it does, it can really jack up your roof. If that happens, your best bet is to call Crescent Construction. They are experts in residential and commercial roofing. Whether it’s about the best type of shingle for your home or the financing that may be available, Crescent can answer all your roofing questions.

Honorable mentions: All Seasons Services, Crosby Roofing & Seamless Gutters  

Best Dry Cleaner

Tripp’s Fine Cleaners

Runner-up: Ed Robinson Laundry & Dry Cleaning

Tripp’s Fine Cleaners is Columbia’s only certified master dry cleaner — and it’s been certified by no fewer than three dry-cleaning organizations. So, yeah, they can probably get that red wine stain out of your favorite dress shirt.

Honorable mentions: Ben’s, Palmetto Commercial Services

Best Law Firm

LawyerLisa, LLC

Runner-up: Richland County Public Defenders Office

That catchy radio-ad jingle, which just gets stuck in your head for days on end, might have put her over the top, but lawyer Lisa Hostetler’s reputation backs up her advertising: Her firm has an average review score of 4.6 stars (out of five) on Google and 4.8 (also out of five) on Facebook.

Honorable mentions: The Jeffcoat Firm, Thomas Law Firm

Best DUI Law Firm or Attorney

J. Taylor Bell, The Jeffcoat Firm

Runner-up: Seth Rose

Taylor Bell used to be a Richland County public defender, where he racked up the courtroom experience — and gained a reputation for fighting for people’s rights. Now he works for the Jeffcoat Firm. Give him a call.

Honorable mentions: The Shealey Law Firm, Dayne Phillips

Best Escape Room

The Final Door

Runner-up: Escape Plan Columbia  

Have you ever watched a thriller or horror film where someone is seemingly hopelessly trapped and thought to yourself, “Hey, I’d like that to happen to me in real life, except without those pesky fatal consequences, and maybe with a little beer and wine mixed in”? Well, then you should give The Final Door a try.

Honorable mentions: Escapology, Great Escape SC  

Best Event Venue

701 Whaley

Runner-up: Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Popular for rehearsal dinners, weddings, fundraisers, meetings, arts and music events, the lovingly restored mill building at 701 Whaley — with its original wood columns, original turnbuckle trusses and immaculate hardwood floors — is perfect for a wide range of special occasions. In fact, Southern Living named it one of the Best Venues to Get Married in South Carolina.

Honorable mentions: The Farm At Ridgeway, The Millstone at Adams Pond

Best Farm

City Roots

Runner-up: Cottle Strawberry Farm

Because of its prominence on the food and events scene, City Roots has probably exposed more Columbians to farming than any other farm around these parts. The urban farm and event hub is best known for its microgreens, which can be found on local tables and those across the Southeast.

Honorable mentions: Doko Farm, Old McCaskill’s Farm

Best Florist

Blossom Shop Inc.

Runner-up: Something Special Florist

Blossom has been a Columbia mainstay for 70 years. Whether a friend had a new baby, someone close to you has had a death in the family, there’s a birthday that needs celebrating or congratulations are in order, this Devine Street shop has the arrangements you need.

Honorable mentions: American Floral, Fern Studio Floral & Event Design

Best Funeral Home

Dunbar Funeral Home

Runner-up: Shives Funeral Home

Death is an unfortunate part of all of our lives. Dunbar will treat your departed loved ones with the care and respect they deserve.

Honorable mentions: Leevy’s Funeral Home, Caughman-Harman Funeral Home  

Best Place to Be Buried

Under the back deck of New Brookland Tavern

Runner-up: Dust 2 Dust Green Burial

People really love New Brookland Tavern.

Honorable mention: Greenhaven Memorial Gardens

Best Golf Course

Cobblestone Park Golf Club

Runner-up: Columbia Country Club

This club, formerly known as the University Club, features a picturesque, challenging 27-hole course with rolling hills and soaring oaks and pines. It also debuted a fancy new 28,000-square-foot clubhouse a couple years ago. Not a bad place for a few birdies and bogeys. (OK, maybe more than a few bogeys.)

Honorable mentions: Forest Lake Club, The Woodlands Golf & Country Club

Best Hotel

Hotel Trundle

Runner-up: Inn At USC Wyndham Garden

Most hotels are simply utilitarian, a place to catch a little rest while traveling for business or during the middle of a long, long drive. Hotel Trundle, the city’s first independent boutique hotel, is different; it offers a taste of Columbia to its tenants, having incorporated the handiwork of local artists and artisans and craftsmen into its unique architecture.

Honorable mentions: Hampton Inn Downtown, The 1425 Inn

Best House of Worship

St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church

Runner-up: First Baptist Church of Columbia

This Forest Acres church does lots of outreach through its workshops, its backpack programs, its popular drop-in nursery and its many other services to the community. Maybe that’s why people love it so much.

Honorable mentions: Downtown Church, Midtown Fellowship

Best Insurance Company

State Farm

Runner-up: Allstate

There is one undeniable truth in life: S#!t happens. When it does, State Farm, long one of the nation’s leading insurance companies, is here to help.

Honorable mentions: Nationwide, Giles Insurance Agency

Best Local Insurance Agent

Craig Giles, Giles Insurance

Runner-up: Brad Giles, Allstate

Giles Insurance Agency owner Craig Giles tops our readers’ list when it comes to meeting their insurance needs, from homeowners insurance to auto insurance and more.

Honorable mentions: Kali Render, State Farm; Bill Turbeville, Turbeville Insurance Agency

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Retailer

Mast General Store Columbia

Runner-up: The Backpacker Quality Gear

Don’t let the fact that Mast sells everything from Gamecock gear to tea towels to saltwater taffy fool you — head downstairs, and you’ll find outdoor gear galore, with knowledgeable staff to help you find your way through it.

Honorable mentions: Half-Moon Outfitters, Sportsman’s Warehouse

Best Printing Company

K & K Printing

Runner-up: Professional Printers

K&K Printing has earned its reputation for quality printing and excellent service; it’s been in business for nearly 30 years, and offers quick custom printing at competitive prices.  

Honorable mentions: Copy Pickup, Sun Solutions

Best Private or Charter School

East Point Academy

Runner-up: Heathwood Hall Episcopal School

Founded just seven years ago, this Chinese immersion charter school has shot to the top of the local education scene. Whether you’re a native speaker looking to keep your child exposed to Mandarin while also learning English and serious academics, or whether you want your English-speaking kid exposed to the world’s most spoken language, this could be the place for your family.  

Honorable mentions: Hammond School, St. John Neumann Catholic School

Best River Rental/Guide Company

Carolina Outdoor Adventures

Runner-up: Half-Moon Outfitters Inc

Offers equipment rentals and guided kayak tours of cool local stuff like Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies in bloom or Lake Murray at sunset. Experience the incredible natural beauty that flows through the heart of the Midlands.  

Honorable mentions: Palmetto Outdoor, River Runner Outdoor Center

Best Screen Printer

Custom Embroidery & Screen Printing

Runner-up: Image Ink

With more than 30 years of experience, Custom goes beyond screen-printing, offering embroidery, signs and banners, and other promotional products to really get your brand out there.

Honorable mentions: Frenzy Tees, Perfect Printing

Best Shooting Range

Palmetto State Armory

Runner-up: Shooter’s Choice

If you want to own a firearm, it’s in everyone’s best interest that you know how to shoot it. Palmetto State Armory’s range is a great place to practice, with ample hours, 18 shooting lanes and reasonable prices.  

Honorable mentions: Lexington Guns and Shooting Range, Mid Carolina Rifle Club

Best Smartphone and Computer Repair

SmartPhone Medic

Runner-up: Mr PC

One repair that SmartPhone Medic advertises is fixing charge ports. That’s something that’s gone wrong with at least two of our own phones, and also to phones belonging to more than a few of our friends. Your phone might be broken, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. Let Smartphone Medic help you out.

Honorable mentions: CPR Cell Phone Repair, Cell Surgeon iPhone Repair

Best Staffing Agency

Carolina Legal Associates

Runner-up: AppleOne Employment Services

That this category was won by a specialty company like Carolina Legal Associates, which handles placement of experienced attorneys, paralegals and support staff, speaks volumes about the quality work they do. Need a contract attorney? Now you know who to call.

Honorable mentions: Recruiting Solutions, Roper Staffing

Best Wine and Paint Studio

Studio Cellar

Runner-up: Wine & Design

Sometimes you want to paint. Sometimes you want to drink. And sometimes, well, you want to do both. When that combo feeling hits, Studio Cellar has what you’re looking for. It’s a perfect place for your special nights, parties, group outings or social gatherings. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available right on-site, and you don’t need to be an experienced artist to join the fun.

Honorable mentions: Grapes & Gallery, Painting with a Twist

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