2nd and Charles

2nd and Charles is Best Place to Buy Comic Books and Best Place to Buy Used Books. Photo by John Carlos

Best Alternative Clothing

Sid & Nancy

Runner-up: HipWaZee

One of the best things about a daytime trip to Five Points is checking out what’s new at Sid and Nancy. This consignment shop collects cool clothes and accessories to round out your wardrobe. 

Honorable mentions: Bohemian, ReFind

Best Children’s Clothing

Once Upon A Child

Runner-up: Little Lambs and Ivy

Dressing your kids at least somewhat fashionably can be a frustrating and expensive proposition. But Once Upon a Child can help. The store is filled to the brim with gently used kids’ clothing, with plentiful options for both boys and girls.

Honorable mentions: The Children’s Place, Belk

Best Women’s Clothing

Belk

Runner-up: Bohemian

There are three Belk locations in the Midlands, and all of them have an outstanding selection of apparel for women. Whether you are looking for a new dress, activewear, lingerie, pajamas or shoes, Belk has it all and more. 

Honorable mentions: Revente, Fabrik Columbia 

Best Men’s Clothing

Granger Owings

Runner-up: Belk

Granger Owings will keep you looking classy with their timeless men’s styles. You can get a custom fitted suit or the latest fashions of outerwear and shoes as well as some snappy gear sporting the Gamecocks or Clemson logos. Tuxedo and suit rentals are also in their chest of clothing options. But the folks working there really make the place shine.

Honorable mentions: Brittons, Jos. A. Bank

Best Jewelry Store

Jewelry Warehouse

Runner-up: Handpicked

With three locations in the Midlands, Jewelry Warehouse has all the shiny things you need. Bracelets, rings, necklaces and more fill out the display cases in their impressive showrooms. The jeweler began retail operations four decades ago, in 1977.

Honorable mentions: Sylvan’s, Reeds 

Best Smoke Shop

Natural Vibrations

Runner-up: High Life

They have a selection of glass and the latest tools for smoking. It also just feels rights to get these items at a store called Natural Vibrations. Fittingly, they rock a Bob Marley Uprising album cover re-creation at the top of their store. They celebrate 20 years as one of Columbia’s most unique stores this year. Catch a vibe. 

Honorable mentions: Purple Haze, Illuminati

Best Cigar Shop

The Cigar Box

Runner-up: Gourmet Shop

There’s nothing like settling in with a good cigar. In Columbia, The Cigar Box (with locations on Main Street and Rosewood) has everything the cigar aficionado needs. Both locations have walk-in humidors with a selection for more than 250 premium cigars. They also have beer, smoking lounges, HD TVs and free Wi-Fi.

Honorable mentions: Tobacco Merchant, Maduro Room

Best Vaping Store

Planet Vapor

Runner-up: Kure Vaporium

Planet Vapor is a vaping store for adults. So while you can get your cherry limeade-flavored vape juice and whatnot, you can also find house-blended premium e-liquids in much more subtle flavors, plus custom hardware. The shop’s four Midlands locations have helpful staff and a low-key, non-vapor-filled vibe. 

Honorable mentions: Mad Vapes, 803 Vape

Best Gun Shop

Palmetto State Armory

Runner-up: Shooter’s Choice

If you need 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. 

Mast General Store

Mast General Store is Best Gift Shop. Photo by John Carlos

Best Gift Shop

Mast General Store

Runner-up: Uptown on Main

Mast might not spring immediately to mind when it comes to gift shops, simply because it also sells everything from tents to old-fashioned candy. But it actually has a great, diverse selection of gifts, from Gamecock gear to jewelry to housewares to ornaments to fun T-shirts and tasty regional sauces and other condiments. Mast General Store is one of those places to go when you’re not quite sure what gift to get for a person. 

Honorable mentions: non(e)such, Cottage and Vine

Best Antique Store

Old Mill Antique Mall

Runner-up: ReFind

Wandering through the Old Mill Antique Mall in West Columbia is one of those quintessential Midlands experiences: checking out the various pieces of furniture and collectibles, musing about the various stories behind them, the lives they were part of back in the day — and, you know, buying something now and again, because places like this don’t stay open thanks only to people stopping by and browsing.  

Honorable mentions: The Red Lion

Best Thrift Store

Goodwill

Runner-up: Sid & Nancy

Sometimes you just need to hit up the biggest name in thrift stores. From couches to coats and many, many things in between, Goodwill is a treasure trove of used items at great prices. 

Honorable mentions: His House, Palmetto Thrift

Best Consignment Store

Revente

Runner-up: Roundabouts Consignments

Revente sells well-curated, gently used women’s clothing in all kinds of sizes. You’ll find vintage designer items here, and gowns for fancy events, along with just plain good fashion. 

Honorable mentions: Sid & Nancy

Best Furniture Store

Whit Ash Furnishings

Runner-up: Strobler

That new furniture smell when you walk into Whit-Ash’s Vista storefront makes you feel like you’re coming into a new and better era of your life. They can set you up for your first house or update your existing place — Whit Ash has the selection and service to make your home feel brand new. 

Honorable mentions: Nadeau, Soda City Mattress & Furniture

Best Hardware Store

Ace Hardware

Runner-up: Lowe’s

They’re locally owned, and that shows in their service. They know what they’re talking about when it comes to tools, nuts, bolts — all that stuff that many people can’t get straight. Plus, they’re smaller than the big box stores and far less intimidating. You won’t get lost and left overnight in a local Ace Hardware. They care. 

Best Pottery Studio

The Mad Platter

Runner-up: Southern Pottery

Open since 1997, The Mad Platter offers ceramics, glass fusing and wooden plaque painting along with summer camps for kids and other activities. Stop by and create something for yourself. 

Best Bakery

Tiffany’s Bakery

Runner-up: Silver Spoon Bake Shop

It’s more than a bakery — they serve breakfast and lunch at this hidden gem along Two Notch Road. While you’re there you can grab any of the plethora of pastries. They’ve been around since 1977 and have become an area tradition. 

Honorable mentions: Blue Flour Bakery, Rise Bakeshop

Best Meat Market

Ole Timey Meat Market

Runner-up: New York Butcher Shoppe

Maybe you’re happy just buying prepackaged meats out of the grocery store meat case. But if you want to up your meat cooking game, check out Ole Timey Meat Market, where they can help you pick out just the right cut of steak, or get you set up with something special like a beef brisket. 

Honorable mentions: Caughman’s Meat’n Place

Best Place for Fresh Produce

Soda City Market

Runner-up: City Roots

Soda City Market is a wildly popular Saturday morning destination for Columbia residents and visitors alike. The Main Street market also remains a great spot to pick up produce from local vendors. 

Honorable mentions: Publix, Rosewood Market and Deli

Best Natural Food Store

Rosewood Market and Deli

Runner-up: Whole Foods

While natural foods stores have become big business — and just plain big — there are many of us who just want a well-curated neighborhood natural foods store. Rosewood has just the right selection and vibe, with its knowledgeable vitamin-and-supplement staffers, tasty deli and perfect produce. 

Honorable mentions: Earth Fare, 14 Carrot Whole Foods

Best Beer Store

Green’s

Runner-up: Craft and Draft

At both of its Midlands locations, Green’s offers some of the widest beer selection you will find in the area, along with a fun tap variety available for growler fills and a staff willing and able to answer all your brew-related questions. When you need a beer, you can’t go wrong with Green’s.

Honorable mentions: Bottles, Total Wine & More

Best Liquor Store

Green’s

Runner-up: Morganelli’s

Serious selection, competitive prices and great service make Green’s a pleasing place to procure booze. 

Honorable mentions: Bottles, Total Wine & More

Best Wine Store

Total Wine & More

Runner-up: Vino Garage

The best chains endure by way of reliability, offering exactly the satisfying selection of the product you’re looking for at whatever location you go to, with attentive service to match. Total Wine & More is exactly this best kind of chain.

Honorable mentions: Morganelli’s, Green’s 

Best Place to Buy Used Books

2nd and Charles

Runner-up: Ed’s Editions

Remember books? No, not the things you download on your iPad or Kindle. We mean books. You know, words printed on paper. Well 2nd and Charles has books. Thousands and thousands of them. Their prices are more than fair, too. This is an amazing place to kill a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Best Place to Buy Comic Books

2nd and Charles

Runner-up: Heroes and Dragons

This large store just off Harbison Boulevard is a great place to pick up books, movies, LPs, T-shirts and toys. But it also has a tremendous selection of new and used comic books. They’ve got all the requisite Marvel and DC books, but they’ve also got plenty of lesser known titles from smaller labels.

Honorable mentions: Silver City Comics, Scratch n Spin

Best Gamecock Store

Garnet and Black Traditions

Runner-up: Addam’s Bookstore

Like it or not, this is a Gamecock town. With football season right around the corner, you want to make sure you’ve got the gear you need to look good at the games. Garnet and Black Traditions has what you need, from T-shirts to hats to car flags and beyond. Plus, they’ve got those gameday stickers that are so popular. BEAT CLEMSON, indeed.

Honorable mention: Miss Cocky

Best Cycle Shop

Outspokin’

Runner-up: Cycle Center

Cyclists in Columbia have a treasure in this bike shop. Not only does Outspokin’ sell bicycles of all shapes and sizes, but its knowledgeable, honest, friendly staff is also adept at diagnosing and repairing any problems your ride might have. If you are serious about bicycling, put Outspokin’ on your list of places to visit.

Best Sporting Goods Store

Academy Sports

Runner-up: Todd & Moore

No matter what game you play, Academy has what you need. From running gear to soccer equipment to basketball goals to camping, fishing and outdoor wares, this national chain is a one-stop shop for those who want to get in the game in style.

Honorable mentions: Sportsman’s Warehouse, Clothing World Outdoor Outfitters 

Best Adult Store

Nancy’s Nook

Runner-up: Taboo

Believe it or not, what most people want in an adult store is a place that’s low-key and not sleazy. Nancy’s Nook has the finest selection of sex toys, lubes and lotions around; they’ve got a hell of a selection of boots and unique footwear as well, along with gag gifts and games. 

Honorable mention: This Is it! Video

Best Convenience Store

Circle K

Runner-up: The Other Store

Sometimes you need a tank of gas. Or a bag of pork rinds. Or a fountain soda the size of a bucket. Or a 12-pack of beer. Or a Black & Mild cigar. Or some sunflower seeds. Or a box of condoms. Sometimes, on the most special nights, you need all those things at the same time. When that night comes, go to Circle K.

Honorable mentions: Shiv Mart, Speedway


 

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