La Sumida Nursery
165 S. Patterson Ave., 964-9944
Things are changing in the natural world, and La Sumida is trying to help people and plant life cope with it. “We’ve got a lot of lawn removal going on,” said manager Dee Honer. “People are buying a lot of lawn substitutes like succulents,” she added. This is a typically steady business time of year, and La Sumida is doing its best to keep up with the times and the changes. They have enormous vegetal resources there. “And luckily we have a lot of experienced staff, too.”
FINALIST: TERRA SOL GARDEN CENTER
Home Furnishings Store
Cost Plus World Market
610 State St., 899-8311
When you simply must forgo the pleasure of living on thrift-store couches and mismatched hand-me-down chairs grouped around shelving that was put together with boards and big bricks—and yet you have not reached the point where John Saladino is putting together an ensemble of artfully mismatched designer pieces and obscure Etruscan weaves—you go to Cost Plus. With nice taste, great prices, and a showroom that’s also filled with unusual wines, crazy snacks, and Day of the Dead skull candles from Mexico, it’s a trip around the world.
FINALIST: ONWARD ART & DESIGN
Real Estate Firm
Ed Edick said part of it is just the numbers. “We’re the number one agency in volume of sales. And hopefully the people who took part in those sales are happy. So even if clients of other agencies were happy, we would still have more happy people.” Edick is being slightly facetious; he and his partner, Renee Grubb, not only run a service-minded realty company but also reach out into the community. In the past years, they have raised a million dollars for the Teacher’s Fund, giving a lot of their own profits as well as involving agents and townspeople. “We have strong marketing and great people working for us. We’re very happy; it’s fun to be number one.”
FINALIST: KELLER WILLIAMS
Real Estate Agent
After the big recession, Louise McKaig, who had been selling real estate for less than a decade, decided to travel around the country and study success. She wanted to know how people, contracts, and things worked in a coordinated manner. She said she learned how to work. “Most of all, though, I think people voted for me because I really care about my clients,” said McKaig, who works for Village Properties. “I care about them, and they seem to care about me.”
FINALIST: STEVE EPSTEIN
1 N. Calle César Chávez, Ste. 130, 845-6600
“It’s great to win,” said owner Erik Haney, who celebrated just seven years in the business and has taken this category for the last four. “I think people like us because we go above and beyond the requirements to make our customers happy. I think the ecological twist helps with our image, but the greatest factor is that we are in a service-based business, and we give extra for our clients.”
FINALIST: MAMMOTH MOVING & STORAGE
7090 Market Place Dr., Goleta, 571-3999
It’s the idea of a department store but for the other world that surrounds us—our electronic net: fancy phones from Apple and Samsung, computers, stereos, televisions, and all of the accompanying paraphernalia from wire connectors to video games. Technology is no longer the exclusive realm of engineers and hi-fi geeks; it’s the air that we breathe and communicate through. This place makes it even easier to negotiate.
706 State St., 962-3944
Alan Howard’s conglomerate of 20 vendors is what he often refers to as “great entertainment.” It’s nice to get lost looking at quaint dishes and jewelry, reading titles of old books, thumbing through boxes of postcards your mother might have written. Nowadays, antiques can easily refer to the 1960s, which doesn’t seem right to youth-obsessed boomers. On the other hand, it is cool to look at real troll dolls, Augie Doggie action figures, and novels like Stranger in a Strange Land that seem foreign nowadays but defined the era they survived.
FINALIST: SUMMERLAND ANTIQUE
Place to Buy Carpet/Rugs
5610 Hollister Ave., Goleta, 964-3551
Since the 1970s, this family-owned franchise store has been a handy clearinghouse for the important bottom line in your home—the floor and what covers it: carpeting (naturally), hardwood and laminate, vinyl (what folks used to call linoleum and tile abound here), and handy people who can install the materials with a guaranteed beauty in some cases. Easy to find and abundantly stocked, Carpeteria has been flooring readers for years.
FINALIST: ABBEY CARPET & FLOOR
Kitson Landscape Management
5787 Thornwood Dr., Goleta, 681-7010
This one is a bit of a puzzler even to the super-nice family that runs it. Around since 1969, the Kitson family business is now in the hands of daughter Sarah and her husband, Dave Fudurich. Everybody agrees that the clan couldn’t be nicer and the workers are excellent. So what’s the problem? The Kitsons do commercial accounts—there are no little suburban love nests or even McMansions getting the famed touch. But the family name is so well known, the readers give the Kitsons a green light for their thumbs year after year.
Ace Handyman Services
“I do good work at a fair price,” explained David Budlong, owner and operator of the business that used to be known as Honey Do A-Z General Services and has won this award under both names. “There are a lot of handymen out there who are not licensed,” he said. Budlong got his contractor’s license first and said he can do anything, but he’ll never do wallpaper again. “I tried it once, and never again. At my age, you have to be able to draw lines.” Maybe some of his workers would? “I have three employees,” he said, “Me, myself, and I.”
FINALIST: A JACK OF ALL TRADES
Now in its 30th year, Karen’s Kleaning thinks of itself as a midrange-priced service that has one large distinction. “We care very much about what we do,” said owner Karen Laurie, who is keenly aware that her workers are going into strangers’ homes and must prove themselves. “And I carefully screen the people I hire, so nobody has to worry. Like I said, we take this work seriously, and I have excellent employees.”
Coleman Carpet Cleaners
275 Orange Ave., Goleta, 683-2305
Flexibility is the watchword at Coleman’s, with a fleet of cleaners who specialize in very big jobs, from mansions to corporate HQs—which is not to say that they don’t work small. If anything, they prefer to be known as detail-oriented workers whose handiwork ensures lots of repeat business, and the readers do not reward those with spotty résumés.
FINALIST: NATURALIST CARPET AND UPHOLSTERY CLEANING
Home Improvement Center
415 E. Gutierrez St., 963-7825
On Home Improvement Center’s website, owner Gary Simpson writes that the store has grown and changed with the times. (Simpson’s dad opened the big store in 1967; the son took over operations in 1983.) Maybe that’s true, but as very regular shoppers there will tell you, the best thing is how little the place has changed. You walk in and, assuming some familiarity, head right over to where what you want is, assuming you don’t run into a bunch of friends and neighbors on the way. If it’s not where you thought, an employee is always standing by who can direct you to it inside the store, order it for you, or let you know who in town is likely to carry that screen-door spline or recessed thumbscrew. If it has changed over the years, it just got subtly better.
FINALIST: ORCHARD SUPPLY HARDWARE
7 N. Nopal St., 564-1868
“We give the same attention to someone who wants to tile a whole house as to a person with a tiny tile they have to replace. We will find it,” laughed Mimi Campbell, who works for a whole lot of people she respects at Tileco — the owners, Margaret and Mike Burchiere; the “captain” (and daughter of the Burchieres), Gina Flint; and the manager (and son of the original owner) of whom she speaks in awe, “Bert Muscio, a tanned man who likes to go on vacation.” All of them, she said, are completely committed to making your dreams in tile come true. They have a better chance of helping you on the spot after moving into their new headquarters, at 7 North Nopal Street. “We go above and beyond the call of duty,” said Campbell. “And we’re very glad your readers recognized us for that.”
FINALIST: BUENA TILE + STONE