Silver Spoon Bake Shop

Silver Spoon Bake Shop is voted Best Bakery.

Best Alternative Clothing

Urban Outfitters

Runner-up: Sid & Nancy

The corporate home of hipster cool, Urban Outfitters will get you the look you want for your person, your home or even your record collection.

Honorable mentions: Hip Wa Zee, Loose Lucy’s

Best Children’s Clothing

Target

Runner-up: Once Upon A Child

Free Times readers know what’s up: Between growth spurts, messy meals and backyard fun, your kid churns through vestments faster than you can say “Carter’s.” Target it is.

Honorable mentions: The Children’s Place, Little Lambs & Ivy II

Best Men’s Clothing

Belk

Runner-up: Granger Owings Classic Clothiers

Long a Southern staple, Belk is a solid place for guys to shop for just about any clothing need. From suits and sport coats to activewear and casual offerings, Belk has all the current styles. The department store also has the belts, suspenders, cufflinks and various other accessories men need to go along with their gear.

Honorable mentions: Brittons of Columbia, Sid & Nancy

Best Women’s Clothing

Belk

Runner-up: Urban Outfitters

Belk has been a go-to shopping hub in the South for decades. The department store has stylish options for women, including dresses, jeans, leggings, suits, swimwear, lingerie and much more. The cosmetics and perfume options are very solid, as well.

Honorable mentions: Copper Penny; Pink Sorbet, a Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store

Best Consignment Store

Revente

Runner-up: Roundabouts Consignments

What do you do when your vintage frocks need a new owner, or when this season’s purchases just aren’t doing you any favors? Take them to Revente, where they might give you some money in exchange for your clothes. The shopping is friendly and well curated, too.   

Honorable mentions: Blythewood Consignment, Sid & Nancy

Best Thrift Store

Goodwill

Runner-up: Palmetto Thrift Store

With 10 Midlands locations, Goodwill is an excellent and convenient spot for thrifting. And if you need to unload some stuff from your house — don’t we all? — they’ll take it off your hands.

Honorable mentions: His House Ministries Thrift, StyledbyNaida

Best Antique Store

Old Mill Antique Mall

Runner-up: ReFind

Looking for something authentic and unique, with character you likely can’t find in new offerings? Check out the Old Mill Antique Mall in West Columbia. They have a wide range of collectibles, antiques and furniture from more than 75 dealers, all in one location. This place has been a Midlands fixture for more than three decades.

Honorable mentions: The Red Lion, Tucked Away Treasures Antiques

Best Adult Store

Nancy’s Nook

Runner-up: Taboo

Maybe you’re looking for some lingerie to rekindle the romance in your relationship. Maybe you need some lubricant, or a toy to make sure your partner gets off. And maybe you want to go somewhere that’s discreet and not at all sleazy. Go here.

Honorable mentions: Lion’s Den in Leesville, This Is It Video & Lingerie

Best Convenience Store

Circle K

Runner-up: The Other Store

Look, what you want in a convenience store is reliability. You want to know that whether you need a tank of gas or a scratch-off ticket or a Mars bar or a 12-pack of Coors or some condoms — or, on the best of nights, all of the above — you’ll get what you need, no matter what ungodly hour you happen to stroll in. You get that at Circle K.

Honorable mentions: Pitt Stop, Spinx

Best Cycle Shop

Outspokin’ Bicycles

Runner-up: Cycle Center

When you need a bike, Outspokin’ will sell you a good one. When that bike needs fixing, Outspokin’s knowledgeable, honest and friendly staff will diagnose and repair any problems your ride might have.

Honorable mention: Summit Cycles

Best Furniture Store

Whit-Ash Furnishings

Runner-up: Strobler Home Furnishings

If you are looking for furniture, chances are this longtime Vista mainstay will have what you need. The place is massive, after all: It’s 40,000 square feet and is one entire city block long. From classic looks to contemporary flair, Whit-Ash has countless pieces that will transform your home.

Honorable mentions: Absolute Discount Mattress & Furniture, Copper Barn Furniture

Best Gamecock Store

Garnet and Black Traditions

Runner-up: Addam’s University Bookstore at USC

Football season is right around the corner. You want to make sure the family (and your house and your car and even the dog) are decked out and ready for University of South Carolina football Saturdays. Garnet and Black Traditions is the place to go for apparel, car flags, framed photos and much more. Oh, and they’ve got those famous gameday stickers, too. BEAT GEORGIA.

Honorable mentions: Barefoot Campus Outfitter, Miss Cocky

Best Gaming Store

Firefly Toys & Games

Runner-up: Pulp Central Gaming

In addition to selling games, Firefly builds a community around playing them, offering at least one different in-store group competition every day of the week. Who’s up for Pinball League?

Best Gift Shop

Uptown Gifts  

Runner-up: The Shoppes on Main

Whether you’re looking for a cheese plate or wine glass decorated with a whimsical slogan, a custom gift basket, or just something adorned with a pineapple, Uptown is the place for you. Monogramming, naturally, is available.

Honorable mentions: Cotton Mill Exchange, Non(e)Such

Best Gun Shop

Palmetto State Armory

Runner-up: Shooter’s Choice

If you want a gun, it’s probably best to buy one from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Palmetto State Armory is the place for you.

Honorable mentions: Academy Sports + Outdoors, Barron’s Outfitters

Best Hardware Store

Lowe’s Home Improvement

Runner-up: The Home Depot

Walk into Lowe’s. Walk around for a few minutes acting like you can figure out how to make that home repair yourself. Get wise. Push one of those handy help buttons, and let one of the staff point you in the right direction. Repeat as needed.

Honorable mentions: Cedar Terrace Hardware, South East Ace

Best Jewelry Store

HandPicked

Runner-up: Sylvan’s Jewelers

Known for its well-curated, affordable, fashionable jewelry, HandPicked is a great spot for gifts or for treating yourself. They do repairs, too, and have frequent sales.

Honorable mentions: Satterfield’s Jewelry Warehouse, Sylvan & DuBose Jewelers

Best Place to Buy Comic Books

Heroes & Dragons

Runner-up: 2nd & Charles

Reborn with new ownership in its same old Boozer Shopping Center location last year, Heroes and Dragons is once again selling new comics in addition to its reliable selection of used titles, books, DVDs and toys.

Honorable mentions: Cosmic Rays, Scratch N Spin

Best Place to Buy Used Books

2nd & Charles

Runner-up: Ed’s Editions

Looking to kill a Saturday afternoon? 2nd & Charles is a good place to do it. With shelf after shelf of used books across seemingly every genre, this is the spot for folks who still like to hold an actual book — you know, the paper kind — in their hands. They’ve got music, movies, comics and games, too.

Honorable mentions: The Book Dispensary, South Carolina Bookstore

Mad Platter painting unicorn

Mad Platter wins Best Pottery Studio.

Best Pottery Studio

Mad Platter

Runner-up: City of Columbia Art Center

For more than two decades, Mad Platter has called the Midlands home, offering ceramics, glass fusing and wooden plaque painting in an open studio setting.

Honorable mentions: Kyle Smith Pottery, Southern Pottery

Best Sporting Goods Store

Academy Sports + Outdoors

Runner-up: Todd & Moore

This place has everything.   

Honorable mention: Half-Moon Outfitters

Best Bakery

Silver Spoon Bake Shop

Runner-up: Tiffany’s Bakery & Eatery

In a land of flabby, pale croissants, Silver Spoon isn’t afraid to push theirs a little further in the oven, turning out well-browned, shatteringly crisp, flaky miracles. That’s only on Fridays, though, which are Croissant Days. The rest of the week, Silver Spoon deals in delectable cookies and bars, savory biscuits, cupcakes and more. They also serve great coffee, so you can make a morning of it.  

Honorable mentions: Ally & Eloise Bakeshop, Blue Flour Bakery

Best Meat Market

Ole Timey Meat Market (St. Andrews/Lexington/South Congaree)

Runner-up: Ole Timey Meats (Rosewood/Spring Valley)

This place is a grillmaster’s dream and a vegan’s nightmare. At Ole Timey Meat Market the shelves are stacked with various cuts and grades of beef, pork, poultry and seafood. Their offerings are fresh, never frozen, and the market prides itself on its customer service.

Honorable mention: New York Butcher Shoppe

Best Natural Food Store

Rosewood Market & Deli

Runner-up: Whole Foods Market

Despite the preponderance of natural foods as big business (see: the Whole Foods about two miles up Rosewood), Rosewood Market, the pantheon of the well-curated neighborhood natural food store, persists. And we’re glad that it does, with its selection of perfect produce, vitamins and supplements, and hard-to-find foods.

Honorable mentions: Earth Fare, 14 Carrot Whole Foods

Best Place for Fresh Produce

Soda City Market

Runner-up: Publix Super Market

Want locally grown fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and more? Check out this weekly Main Street market, where farm vendors mingle amid the gifts and other goods. That Livingston Farms flat-rate produce box is a dang good deal.

Honorable mentions: City Roots, Rosewood Market & Deli

Best Beer Store

Green’s Beverage Warehouse

Runner-up: Craft And Draft

Green’s — in particular the location on Piney Grove Road — is an excellent source for all things beer, from the craftiest, freshest and rarest of craft beers to big ol’ suitcases of your favored domestic.

Honorable mentions: Bottles, The Vino Garage

Best Liquor Store

Green’s Beverage Warehouse

Runner-up: Morganelli’s

Need to stock up for a big end-of-summer party? Green’s has all the Malibu Rum, Sour Apple Pucker and budget vodka you need. If your drinking tastes tend toward the slightly more sophisticated, it also has plenty of single-malt scotches, cognacs, liqueurs and locally distilled cool stuff. In short, Green’s is for everyone.

Honorable mentions: Bottles, Total Wine & More

Best Wine Store

Total Wine & More

Runner-up: Morganelli’s

Look, it’s right there in the name. Total, as in complete, as in comprehensive. Blanc or brut, chardonnay or cabernet, Total Wine stocks it. And more: Its selection of craft beers is also top-flight.

Honorable mentions: The Gourmet Shop, The Vino Garage

Best Cigar Shop

The Cigar Box

Runner-up: The Gourmet Shop

Within the walk-in humidors at The Cigar Box’s two Columbia locations, you’ll find a wide array of cigars in all different shades, shapes and sizes. Outside the humidor, you’ll find attentive staff that will help you navigate the selection. Don’t sleep on the choice craft beer selection, either, if you’re hanging out in the shop.

Honorable mentions: Tobacco Merchant, Total Wine & More

Best Smoke Shop

Natural Vibrations

Runner-up: High Life Smoke Shop Columbia

The family-owned charm and excellent stock of Natty Vibez have made it a Five Points institution for more than 20 years. Find your 420 gear here, from glassware to hookahs, and don’t miss the Rasta fashions and health tonics, either.

Honorable mentions: Purple Haze Smoke Shop, Tobacco Merchant

Best Vaping Store

Vaping Zone

Runner-up: Columbia Vapes (formerly Madvapes)

Do you even vape, bro? Oh, you do? Well then you need to check out Vaping Zone on Columbiana Drive. They’ve got everything you’re looking for in regard to vaping, including e-cigarette starter kits, e-liquid flavors, vape accessories, vape coils and more.

Honorable mention: Whit E. Octopus Vapors

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