La Sumida Nursery
165 S. Patterson Ave., 964-9944
“Yay,” said La Sumida manager Dee Honer. “I think we win because we have generations of customers who have long-term relationships with our employees. We love to help them; we want to have everybody successful growing things. You know, there are a lot of good nurseries; we have to work very hard to be the best.”
FINALIST:TERRA SOL GARDEN CENTER
Home Furnishings Store
3835 State St., 687-6707
In the absence of an Ikea, but considering the number of old Santa Barbara businesses that used to be here, it’s hard to imagine our readers shopping anywhere else: They’ve picked this store consistently. It’s all here from actual pottery to scented candles, with a comfortable old-world flavor and prices kept reasonable in a town where housing is not.
FINALIST: COST PLUS WORLD MARKET
Real Estate Firm
Ed Edick and Renee Grubb run a company with about 150 agents selling properties that begin in the hundred thousands but top out in the double-digit millions. It would be an empire if their reputation for fair dealing and personal service wasn’t actually what most people remember about being guided through the most personal and likely expensive financial decision you make. Because it’s about where home will ultimately be, it has to be with people whom the rest of the community is willing to endorse.
FINALIST: PRUDENTIAL CALIFORNIA REALTY
Real Estate Agent
3868 State St., 637-7148
“Thank you for voting me Santa Barbara’s Best Realtor year after year — I am truly honored by your support!” said Daniel Zia. “While our business continues to grow dramatically, if you ask any of our clients or the members of our team, our focus is not about growth. Our entire focus is on finding ways to continue to improve our service, put better systems in place, and above all find creative ways to add value to every person we encounter, regardless of whether they are, or have been, a client of ours. People sense our desire to serve, and to put their best interest above our own. We give the same counsel to someone we just met, as we would to a close friend or family member, and that builds trust, which is the foundation of any relationship — business or otherwise.”
FINALIST: SUZANNE COHEN
For a company that’s only five years old, Movegreen has already taken this category three times. Cofounder Patrick Wilkinson knows that it’s hard work, and he’s happy his team won. “I think it’s the customer service mainly, though our green factor certainly helps,” said Wilkinson. The company plants 10 trees for every move, recycles its boxes, and tries to use as little paper in the paperwork as it can. It’s a mobile world that surrounds us, and the readers seem impressed that all this moving around might actually help to save the planet a little bit, too.
FINALIST: UNIVERSITY MOVERS
7090 Market Place Dr., 571-3999
At this point in history, it’s hard even for postwar people who grew up thinking color TV and transistor radios were amazing to imagine many moments going by in any typical day in which electronics haven’t become indispensable. Writing, telephoning, entertaining ourselves, even kitchen appliances today have memories and sophisticated circuits. Best Buy arrived in town — finally — just about the time that smart phones started knitting together all the other seemingly unconnected electronic aspects of our lives from gaming to photography and Internet browsing. Santa Barbarans were quick to catch on, and this enormous chain with almost 200,000 employees worldwide has been the pick of this category ever since.
FINALIST: APPLE STORE
706 State St., 962-3944
“It’s all about the entertainment,” said owner Alan Howard. “First and foremost. Come in and get entertained. We like people to come in: young people because they are our future customers and old people to take a trip down memory lane. Tell people what we like is for them to come in and lose themselves here. That’s what this store is all about.”
FINALIST: SUMMERLAND ANTIQUE COLLECTIVE
Place to Buy Carpets/Rugs
5610 Hollister Ave., 964-3551
It’s safe to say that most of us take for granite the ground we walk on, though a great deal of fuss ensues when someone decides to put in hardwood floors, get new carpeting, linoleum, or tile. So, rather than get floored over something so basic, people tend to wisely seek ground-level advice, and nowhere else in town are the options provided so wide. Expert installers, bulk-buying discounts, and the security of dealing with a well-established chain contribute to this store winning groundswell approval year after year.
FINALIST: MK HOME FURNISHINGS
Kitson Landscape Management
5787 Thornwood Dr., 681-7010
Sarah Kitson, who took over the business her parents began, is always a little surprised (though grateful) to win this category. Turns out that very little of what they do is for private homes. Mostly they groom industrial parks and more or less public land, including Girsh Park. “The town is small, so maybe our trucks are brainwashing people,” she laughed, though she is quite happy to be appreciated. “Yay, thank you to everybody who voted for us,” she said.
FINALIST: COASTAL LANDSCAPE & TREE SERVICE
Ace Handyman Services
David Budlong used to call his business the Honey Do Service, “You know, as in “Honey do this and honey do that,” he laughed. Since 1999, though, he has been the man you call for those oddball repairs if you’re not habitually handy yourself. “People like me because I get the work done. I’m on time and do it right the first time. And green people will like this: Nowadays I’m traveling in an all-electric car to the job.”
FINALIST: A JACK OF ALL TRADES
Sylvia’s Cleaning Services
320 S. Kellogg Ave., Goleta, 682-6141
“We’ve been in business for a long time, maybe 20 years or so,” explained owner Sylvia Narbais. “I think people vote for us because we clean really well. And my workers are very nice and polite, have a big smile for the people they work for. But mostly because they do such a good job.”
FINALIST: KAREN’S KLEANING
Naturalist Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning
986 Miramonte Dr., 884-1911
Green cleaning is growing more important to our townspeople who want to stay in a world their children might want to enjoy, too. Naturalist provides low-impact stain removal and everyday cleaning with a great reputation for value.
FINALIST: STAR RUG CLEANERS
Home Improvement Center
415 E. Gutierrez St., 963-7825
It’s completely heartening that the readers vote HIC winner for this category when there are so many gigantic chains where they might sacrifice some clerk attention but will probably save money. Make no mistake, Home Improvement has great prices, but the real reason people love this place is the utterly social aspect of going there, seeing your friends shopping, and getting tons of free assistance from the clerks, managers, and owners, many of whom have been selling splines, mulch, and screw eyes for the last 30 years.
FINALIST: ORCHARD SUPPLY HARDWARE
619 N. Olive St., 564-1868
“Customer service is our secret ingredient,” said Tileco design consultant Janis Spicer. “We also have an incredible variety in stock,” she continued, citing tiles from Italy, Mexico, and Turkey, among other countries. “And our prices are even better than competitive,” she said.
FINALIST: NS CERAMIC