Paul Wellman

Barber Shop

Richie’s Barber Shop

1187 Coast Village Rd., Ste. 6, 845-9701,

Owner Richie Ramirez was on to something when, about seven years back, he started hiring female barbers to cut, style, and shave the shop’s steady clientele. After all, these women are in the business of making men look good. Add televised sports, understated decor, and complimentary coffee or spirits — no wonder this year’s award is the shop’s sixth in a row. “It’s a big pat on the back,” says Ramirez. “Our hard work is being noticed, and it motivates us to be better and to live up to the title. [We] work on that every day!” From 4-8 p.m. on Wednesday, November 1, Richie’s is donating all proceeds and tips to victims of the October 1 Las Vegas shooting and the ongoing wildfires in Northern California. Walk-ins are welcome. Appointments are encouraged.

Finalist: Arturo’s Barbershop

Paul Wellman

Hair Salon

The Color Room

3003 State St., 687-0777,

A driving force behind this upper State Street salon, established in August 2010, is the belief that a hairstyle should go with a client’s lifestyle, and, according to group sentiment from the shop’s stylists, “We strive on making each and every one of our clients look and feel beautiful. Thank you for your continued support and to all of Santa Barbara. We will continue serving our community to the best of our ability. Our mission is simple: Provide cuts, colors, and styles that people love.”

Finalist: Darin Jon Studio

Nail Salon

Aqua Skin & Nail Care

3455 State St., 687-8483,

If checking in to a “guest-focused beauty experience in a relaxing, beautiful, and health-conscious environment” sounds like another level of skin and nail care, that’s precisely what Claudia Papa — president of this upper State Street salon founded in 2005 — has to offer. It’s a recipe she’d like to expand. “It feels amazing to be recognized for our purpose and passion, and I see Aqua continuing to provide unique service not only in Santa Barbara, but in other cities and countries.”

Finalist: Angels Nail & Spa

Tanning Salon


209 W. Canon Perdido St., 963-8300,

A big boon to running a tanning salon, says owner Christine Starr, is seeing how a quick deepening of skin tone can transform someone’s look on the outside and, from within, provide a warm glow to his or her confidence. “Helping someone feel beautiful is the most fulfilling thing about my job.” Down the line, she foresees opening a second shop and continuing to tap into “this ideal place to cultivate a small business. Our tight-knit community is the perfect platform for word-of-mouth referrals.”

Finalist: Shades Spray Tans

Day Spa

The Spa at Bacara

8301 Hollister Ave., Goleta, (855) 968-0100,

A destination resort on the wilder coastal fringes of town is expected to offer luxurious options in self-care and relaxation. As “Spanish colonial warmth” and “new California dreaming” enter West Coast lexicon, the spa at this 78-acre getaway, according to its social-media outreach, recaptures “a time when getting away for a few days and coming back looking rested, rejuvenated and renewed wasn’t considered an indulgence but a necessity.”

Finalist: Float Luxury Day Spa

Medical Spa

Evolutions Medical & Day Spa

350 Chapala St., Ste. 103, 576-7214,

Twelve years ago, when Evolutions opened, its five employees quickly made clients feel well taken care of and perfectly at home. Today, there are 30 employees, and clients remain as loyal as ever. “One of the best things about aesthetic medicine is that the technology is constantly changing and improving,” says founder and managing partner Brian Perkins, who is also proud of donating to more than 100 schools and charities a year. “In the next 5-10 years, we plan to continue to be on the forefront of what is happening in the industry and to bring that technology to Santa Barbara for our clients.”

Finalist: The G Spa

Paul Wellman

Place to Get a Facial

Skin Deep

3405 State St., 687-9497,

The list of beauty, health, and feeling-good services offered by this 37-year-old salon on upper State is quite long — massage, waxing, manicures, pedicures, makeup, bridal packages, etc. — but it’s the Skin Deep facial that keeps our readers radiant. For owner Tina Hasche, that’s because of the strong relationships the salon has developed over the decades. “My favorite part of my job is cultivating the personal connection with my staff that is further demonstrated to our clients and customers,” said Hasche. “Being a Santa Barbara native, I’ve seen a lot of changes through the decades, and what still makes Santa Barbara the very best place to live and work is the people, the beaches and mountains, and the pretty buildings. It’s the vibe. Like any really good bartender knows, it’s the love you put into the drink that makes it the best cocktail!”

Finalist: Peaches Skin Care

Paul Wellman

Clothing Boutique

Lovebird Boutique and Jewelry

Two locations,

When Lovebird opened a decade ago, the country was in the throes of an economic crisis, and yet this clothing boutique thrived. Today, brick-and-mortar retail is under constant assault from online purveyors like Amazon, and yet Lovebird continues to thrive, with two stores now on De la Guerra and State streets. “Lovebird opened when we were in the midst of a recession, and at times it seemed risky,” said owner Jennifer Scarbrough, who is planning a celebration around her award. “We moved forward with our vision and created a welcoming boutique at an affordable price point where women of all ages can shop. We love that mother, daughter, and grandmother can all enjoy what Lovebird has to offer.”

Finalist: Anthropologie

Thrift Store

Alpha Thrift Stores

Multiple locations,

From Isla Vistans searching for Halloween costumes to young parents finding clothes for their kids to antique hunters who recognize that things were better made to last decades ago, Alpha Thrift is a mecca for secondhand searchers. Better yet, the three shops — one on Milpas Street on Santa Barbara’s Eastside and two on Hollister Avenue in Goleta — all directly benefit the Alpha Resource Center, which runs programs and critical services for children and adults with developmental disabilities, while also supporting their families. So not only is there gold to be found in the Alpha aisles, but your purchases deliver a golden touch to the community at large.

Finalist: Goodwill

Vintage Store
Antique Store

The Blue Door

4 E. Yanonali St., 364-5144,

Treasures await through The Blue Door — and never the same thing twice. “It’s so much fun having new pieces every single day,” says Carolyn Petersen, owner of the Funk Zone antique store replete with rare fancies, from a vintage printing press to mid-century modern armchairs to a walrus-hide suitcase. “Our regulars know they have to act fast if they see something they like!” Only open since 2014, The Blue Door has made fast friends of Santa Barbara’s pickers, collectors, and everyday folks looking for that perfect piece. “We have a lot of amazing local customers here in town with some very unique homes to furnish,” said Petersen.

Finalist (Vintage Store): Victorian Vogue

Finalist (Antique Store): Antique Alley

Consignment Store

The Closet Trading Co.

920 State St., 963-8083,

Finding designer clothing at a fair price is hard in any town, let alone Santa Barbara, where high rents tend to skyrocket the cost of everything. That’s why consignment stores are close to our readers’ hearts, and The Closet is their favorite of those. “We are lucky enough to be going on 15 years in business in Santa Barbara, and look forward to expanding nationwide in the next five years,” said owner Johanna Melamed, who currently has four locations across Southern California, with several more on the way. “We are beyond honored to have earned this recognition and will continue to work our hardest to offer a warm and welcoming place to recycle your wardrobe and to find great deals on designer fashion!”

Finalist: Crossroads Trading Co.

Dry Cleaner

Ablitt’s Fine Cleaners & Launderers

14 W. Gutierrez St., 963-6677,

For decades, dry cleaners have cleaned the literal fabrics of communities all over America, and Santa Barbara is home to its fair share of solid operators. But when it comes to trusting one place to deliver the most reliable service and careful treatment for our most precious garments, be they gowns or everyday jackets, the choice is Ablitt’s. “The day we stop trying to be just a little better each day is the day we will no longer be the best,” says Sasha Ablitt, whose family has been in the cleaning business for five generations. Her parents started the current company back in 1984. “We have the most amazing clients in Santa Barbara,” she says. “It’s as though everyone that we meet has an amazing story.”

Finalist: Eco Friendly Cleaners


Lee’s Tailoring

4141 State St., Ste. E-4, 910-1065,

Lee Thompson started tailoring back in 1967, opened his Santa Barbara shop in 1991 — which makes him about the second-oldest tailor in town, by his estimation — and has been clocking at the top of our list ever since. Even if he isn’t personally working on your clothes, he’s standing alongside his employees as they do. “Our work is just about perfect, because we do the work the way it’s requested,” Thompson told us back in 2009 when he won this same award. “We have the right machines and the right threads, but the bottom line is the work speaks for itself.”

Finalist: Tony the Tailor

Eyewear Selection
Sunglasses Selection

Occhiali Fine Eyewear

Two locations,

Thirty years ago, Occhiali opened its Coast Village Road location, and five years later, the Canon Perdido shop was up and running. This year, they won both the eyewear and sunglasses awards, and it’s no wonder to anyone who’s lived in Santa Barbara for any length of time. That’s because the business is largely based on referrals, whether from a doctor’s office or word-of-mouth among stylish friends. “We go through the frames together with a great deal of guidance, and our interior spaces lend themselves to treating eyewear as works of art,” says owner Irwin Eve, who sells independent lines by Francis Klein, Jacques Marie Mage, Mykita, Lindberg, and others. “We love getting to know our clients and feel truly blessed to be part of this community.”

Finalist (Eyewear Selection): Costco

Finalist (Sunglasses Selection): Sunglass Hut



Paseo Nuevo, 17 W. Canon Perdido St., 564-8770,

In an era where even monolithic department stores are struggling to survive in retail, Nordstrom reigns as the supreme leader when it comes to shoes. From high heels to high-tops, ladies to lads, and streetwear to dress-up, this Paseo Nuevo hotspot has our readers’ soles covered. “After helping the same customers for a few years, they feel more like a friend or family member rather than a customer,” said shoe division manager Cameron Williams. “I always try my best to remember their name, their significant other’s name, and even their dog’s name. These little things go a long way to make people feel special. Thank you to everyone that voted for us, and I look forward to seeing you soon!”

Finalist: Deckers Brands

Paul Wellman

Jewelry Store

Bryant & Sons

Two locations,

Since opening in 1965 at the front edge of El Paseo, Bryant & Sons has been the go-to spot for diamond rings, silver necklaces, pearl earrings, regal timepieces, and all of those shiny and sparkling things that women and men love to gift and wear. “Santa Barbara has been good to our family and business,” says owner Mike Bryant, who took over from his dad and the shop’s founder, Bob, back in 1981. “We have been in business 52 years and intend to be here for many more, providing the best selection and finest jewelry and watches for all those special occasions. Thanks, Santa Barbara!”

Finalist: Tiffany & Co.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.