La Sumida’s managers (clockwise from top center) Judi Smith, D. Honer, Jamie Myers, and Francisco Perez.
Paul Wellman


La Sumida Nursery

165 S. Patterson Ave., 964-9944

It’s worth a visit just to tour the rose gardens for beauty and inspiration, though they aren’t open every day, so call first. La Sumida has been S.B.’s garden supply, seed, and horticultural guidance center since the 1950s. Now concentrated in one location, with helpful staff and just about everything you need to make the flowers bloom and the grass grow green. Except maybe sunshine.

FINALIST: Terra Sol Garden Center


Pottery Barn

110 S. Hope Ave., 687-6707

The company name is something like calling New York a place to ride horses through a park. They have everything here—including some nice pottery, priced at a range that the vaunted middle class can afford without tax breaks. The Pottery Barn is its own level of chic: perfect wedding and house-warming presents, but also good for filling in the rough edges of your own home. Sofas, cutlery, outdoor furniture, and, we’ll warrant, even a fancy kitchen sink or two.



Prudential California Realty

3868 State St., 687-2666

1170 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, 969-5026

2933 San Marcos Ave., #102, Los Olivos, 688-2969

“We are very ecstatic about winning,” said Prudential district manager Kyle Kemp, who insists that it’s the service rendered that makes his realty company popular even in straightened times. “There’s a dedication to the customer that we have here,” he said, explaining that the 140 Prudential agents in their three offices are all full-timers who average about $117,000 per year in gross commissions. An estimated 1 in 52 Californians has a real estate license, “but nowhere near that many make a living at it. It makes a big difference that these are full-time people. I’m very selective about who I let join and this is a very good group.”

FINALIST: Village Properties


Kevin Goodwin

2000 State St., 899-1100

He’s the residential expert of the progressively alert Goodwin & Thyne group (John Thyne does commercial properties), and even though this is an individual award, Goodwin believes it’s his team that makes him good. “We do a great job exceeding the client’s wishes and saving them thousands of dollars,” he said. Though times have been tough, Goodwin has had one of his best years. “Of course, I’m very happy to be voted Best,” he said.

FINALIST: Randy Freed



747 S. Kellogg Ave., Goleta, 845-6600

They’ve been in business here for three years and taken the prize twice—pretty good testimony to the ecological approach to schlepping furniture from one location to the next. “Customer service is really our best aspect, though,” explained CEO Erik Haney. Of course there also are the reusable cartons, the trucks that run on biodiesel fuel, and the fact that Movegreen plants 10 trees for every move they make. “It is a nice new twist for an old business,” admitted Haney.

FINALIST: Mammoth Moving


Best Buy

7090 Marketplace Dr., Goleta, 571-3999

Most people’s lives are measured out on video screens nowadays. If you don’t go to work on one, you likely spend a lot of leisure time zoned before another back at home. We play games, look up information, and download other enjoyable stuff. (You know, like recipes. What were you thinking?) All these screens and the things attached to them are available here for less money than you can order online and get shipped … you know, from a screen.

FINALIST: Apple Store


Antique Alley

706 State St., 962-3944

“We got the news that we won and we feel we came about the whole thing honestly and fair,” said Eva Linowski, one of the crew in this collective of little antique shops that provides an ad hoc time machine to lower State Street shopping, joking broadly about something she actually feels very sharp about. “It’s a very nice honor, and all we can imagine is that we’ve been here for 11 years, and lots of people have gotten to know us. Obviously we don’t really have something for everybody, but we really try.”

FINALIST: Punch Intérieur



5610 Hollister Ave., Goleta, 964-3551

It’s just a couple letters away from the World’s Safest Beach, but surely its name-proximity to our little beach town to the south is not why the readers vote for this popular chain establishment year after year. More likely it’s the variety of fabrics ranging from Berber weaves to endurable inside/outside industrial blends. Beyond that, they do it all, from shopping advice to installation and at prices you would have to drive far beyond Carpinteria to beat.

FINALIST: Abbey’s Carpet City


Kitson Landscape Management

5787 Thornwood Dr., Goleta, 681-7010

It’s a bit of a mystery, really. Kitson gets Indy readers’ tap year after year, although their client base is almost exclusively commercial and corporate business parks for names like Towbes, Sima, and Bermant. Don’t get her wrong, though, Sarah Kitson is grateful for the recognition. “I would have to say it’s our excellent workers and service that gets people’s attention.” She readily admits the list of clients isn’t very long. “Maybe we have people brainwashed with our cool trucks,” she laughed, “but we’re definitely happy we won.”

FIANLIST: Cicileo Landscapes


Ace Handyman Services of Santa Barbara


David Budlong (formerly of Honey Do A-Z General Services) is at first sarcastic about the honor. “Nobody even knew there was a handyman category, so they just put me in because of the name Ace Handyman,” he laughed. Actually, he’s being modest. “I really think they like me because I’m on time and I always get the job done. I’ve never had a complaint. And I’ll do anything. I like to say, anything but wallpaper. I tried that once and never again.”

FINALIST: Jack of All Trades


Silvia’s Cleaning Services

320 S. Kellogg Ave., Goleta, 682-6141

“I guess we try hardest to keep the customers happy,” said Silvia Narbais, an Argentinian who began her business here almost 20 years ago and stands out happily in our readers’ poll. “You’ve got to keep a good temper when you clean somebody’s house,” she said.

FINALIST: Molly Maid


Naturalist Carpet Cleaning
Paul Wellman

Naturalist Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning


“It’s a wonderful honor to win,” said Naturalist office manager Erica Smith, who doesn’t exactly downplay their eco-friendly aspect, but wants to stress the company’s service record. “Everybody always tells me how nice our people are,” said Smith. “And it’s true we have great workers and our prices are very competitive,” she said. And environmental. “Our product is all natural and doesn’t leave any kind of residue.” Except maybe a smile, no doubt.

FINALIST: Coleman Carpet Cleaners


Home Improvement Center

415 E. Gutierrez St., 963-7825

This mom and pop store—run by the son—is so confident it need only repeat its function as a name: Home Improvement. But it would be a giant mistake to think of this store generically. In fact, it’s more like a community crossroad where folks from Montecito to San Roque, from homeowners to builder’s assistants and from experts to DIY neophytes, shop for convenience, great prices, and helpful help. With gardening, plumbing, paint, household, hardware, and lumber all on one eastside corner, it is what it says it is.

FINALIST: Orchard Supply Hardware



619 N. Olive Street, Ste. B, 564-1868

Red roof tiles are our signature architectural expression, but interior tiles are maybe even more ubiquitous from the mansion in Montecito to old Eastside Craftsman-style house and even the tract home of Goleta Good Land suburbia. Since the 1970s, Tileco has been the place where the amateur DIY home improvement fan rubs shoulders with long-experienced construction types.

FINALIST: Buena Tile & Stone


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