Readers' Choice Awards
Nothing but the best for our readers
Bedford Lingerie store, a Litchfield haunted house, a Nashua men's shoe store and a Bethlehem Christmas tree farm are among the winners of the inaugural New Hampshire Union Leader Readers' Choice 2013 Contest.
More than 1,700 readers filled out ballots — either from the print newspaper or via online — to vote for the best businesses in 195 categories involving shopping, eating, entertainment or professional services.
"The main reason we're doing this quite honestly is it highlights the best and bright-est businesses in New Hampshire essentially from the eyes of their customers," said Nick Bolitho, vice president of advertising at the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Many winners plan to use the award to trumpet their busness.
"Any time we win something where our customers vote us the best or it's word of mouth, that's priceless," said Deanna Tinios, co-owner of Top Draw-er, which has stores in Bedford, Exeter and West Lebanon.
"That's always good for our business," said Tinios, whose store is known for its bra-fi tting services and offers bra sizes ranging from 30B to 52K. "It's not us telling everybody we're wonderful. It's our customers and everybody else telling us we do a good job."
The public was given a month to write in nominees in at least 12 categories by the April 22 deadline. About two-thirds of the winners are businesses from Manchester.
Each winner will receive a certificate and decal to dis-play.
Chelsea Stoddard, co-owner of Queen City Cupcakes in Manchester, was happy to hear she won.
"We're excited," she said. "We love it. It's nice to know we've been well received in the community, and it's nice to hear."
The Elm Street business — its biggest seller the peanut butter cup — gets a lot of business from out-of-town-ers staying at the Radisson Hotel who will see the award hanging up.
Bolitho said he hopes the contest will become an annual event.
He said readers can use this guide featuring the winners to help them make smarter choices on where to eat or whom to hire.
"It's a nice resource guide for readers for choosing some of the best products and services in the eyes of their customers," Bolitho said.
For the record, Top Drawer was the lingerie winner, Mel's Funway Park-Spooky World was tops for haunted house, Alec's Shoe Store won for men's shoes and Finnegan's Fine Firs was voted for the best Christmas tree farm.