Best local market
1. Commodities Natural Foods
2. Village Market of Waterbury
3. Morrisville Food Co-op
Nominees: The Butchery, Edelweiss Mountain Deli, The Farm Store (Jeffersonville), Harvest Market, Johnson’s Sterling Market, Stowe Seafood, Sunflower Natural Foods.
This is a bring-your-own-bag sort of place. Organic miso, locally grown greens, organic veggies, local meats, a fine selection of wine, tinctures and tonics and lotions and potions. It’s a small grocery, but it’s still chock full of just about everything you need. (P.S.: They do have bags if you forget yours.)
Best date/night out
1. Hen of the Wood
3. Michael’s on the Hill
Nominees: Bijou Cineplex, Cork Wine Bar, Doc Ponds, Edson Hill, Stowe Cinema, Zenbarn.
Love the one you’re with, right? Or so says Stephen Stills. They’ll love you if you make it Hen of the Wood on date night. Harrison’s, a very close second, will probably get you some lovin’ too. (Best response: “Ha! I am 12!” Others had different ideas of date night: “Concert series at Trapps” (The Romantic); “back roading (The Woodchuck); and “The f----ng river” (The Dog).
Best music venue — indoor
1. Rusty Nail Stage at Tres Amigos
3. Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center
Nominees: El Toro, Martell’s at the Red Fox, The Matterhorn, Moog’s Place, The Music Box, Stowe Cider, The Reservoir.
Inside baseball … sometimes (very rarely) we quippy writer types review previous 4393 writeups for inspiration. This one caused a brief sweat to break out for this giant Fleetwood Mac fan. Last year we wrote: “We missed The Fleetwood Mac Experience at the end of June writing quippy copy for the 4393s, but fans and bands alike just Don’t Stop with their love and led the reinvented Rusty Nail to a Landslide.” We know, I’m So Afraid that’s Second Hand News. But no reason to sweat this year, Oh Daddy, because the Fleetwood Mac Experience isn’t back until Aug. 3. At the Rusty Nail. Quip on.
Best music venue — outdoors
1. Trapp Family Lodge meadow
2. The Alchemist meadow
3. Oxbow Park, Morrisville
Nominees: Helen Day Art Center/Stowe Library gazebo; Legion Field (Tuesday Night Live), Johnson; Rusty Parker Park, Waterbury.
Believe it or not, there are people who live in Stowe/Waterbury/Morrisville and surrounding towns who’ve never been to a concert in the Trapp Family Concert Meadow. With the beautiful Greens as a backdrop, a soft blanket underneath you, enjoying a picnic of Jasper Hill cheeses, Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps, an assortment of olives, a soppressata, baguette and a light Sangiovese … under the stars. The music plays. What are you waiting for? This year, Stowe Performing Arts presents the VSO, the Bumper Jacksons and Ruthie Foster. And trust us, Foster is all that.
Best wedding venue
1. Trapp Family Lodge
2. Edson Hill
3. The Barn at Boyden Farm
Nominees: The Barn at Smugglers’ Notch, Green Mountain Inn, The Lodge at Spruce Peak, The Stowehof, Topnotch Resort & Spa, Zenbarn.
See previous question. Add white dress, tux, a big tent. Swap picnic for elegant sit-down dinner. What dreams are made of. (From the 4393 peanut gallery, bitter much? “Marriage sucks,” “Marriage is slavery,” “Get married? Are you nuts?”; best answer: “Ewww … marriage.” Perhaps that same 12-year old?; The penny pincher: “The courthouse.”)
1. Topnotch Resort & Spa
2. Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa
3. Spa at the Lodge at Spruce Peak
Nominees: Bhav Spa, Lumina Med Spa, Saucha Day Spa.
After nearly 30 years, Topnotch Spa still reigns supreme. (Not-comfortable-with-my-masculinity reader award: “Not gay.”)
Best massage therapist
1. Kate Graves
2. Kate Greenleaf
3. Judith Foti
Nominees: Donna Petit, Jenna Kelly, Jennifer Moody, Lynn McBrien, Maureen Slayton, Patty Delaney, Victoria Veldon.
Kate Graves is a Stowe-area institution. Over the last 30 years, Kate’s hands and healing touch — through countless modalities — have helped countless folks sleep better, manage pain, relieve stress, improve general health and well-being, move around better. That list just goes on and on. Just relax, you’re in good hands. (Sorry, Kate, to repeat last year’s writeup, but how could we improve on that? Congrats, again.)
Best hair services
1. Salon Salon
2. Artistic Roots
3. Lush Salon
Nominees: Birch. Hair Studio; Hello, Gorgeous; Northern Highlights; Salon Ruelle; Salon4Men; Shear Image; Styles on Sunset; Sunflower Salon.
“Other” won the day in this category — “I only let (insert the name of your stylist here) touch my head” — but for overall salon, Salon Salon in Stowe, a repeat winner, edged out the competition. “I’d like the Dorothy Hamill, please.”
1. Phinne Nail Salon
2. Topnotch Spa
3. Salon Salon
Nominees: Artistic Roots; Essence Salon & Day Spa; Hello, Gorgeous; Spa at Stowe Mountain Lodge; Stoweflake Spa; Sunflower Salon.
Whether it’s a quick color change, long-lasting shellac manicure or the whole nine (ten) of gel sets with precise custom artwork, husband-and-wife team Phinne and Vilaysack will keep your tips sharp and your tootsies treated.
Best jewelry store
1. Von Bargen’s Jewelry
2. Remarkable Things/Stowe Craft
3. Ferro Estate & Custom Jewelers
Runner-up: Green Envy
It’s always a choker in this category as these three top-drawer jewelry stores battle for the top carat. They’re all diamonds in our book, but Von Bargen’s once again wears the tiara. (Masculinity midget award: “Again, not gay.”)
Best art gallery
1. Helen Day Art Center
2. River Arts Center
3. West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park
Nominees: Axel’s Gallery and Frame Shop, Bryan Memorial Gallery, Edgewater Gallery, Green Mountain Fine Art Gallery, Northwood Artisans Gallery, Remarkable Things at Stowe Craft, Robert Paul Galleries.
Imagine a small, yet world-class, ski resort, tucked in the Green Mountains of northern Vermont. It has its fair share of sophisticates, top-flight athletes, fine restaurants, multimillion-dollar homes and condos. If only this Shangri-La had an amazing contemporary art center, world-class exhibitions, countless artsy educational opportunities … What? It does? Yes! It is the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe. Plus, they throw the best darn party in town, too. Called the gala, early spring, don’t miss it. (Side note: River Arts in Morrisville, another nonprofit center for the arts, is an equally amazing community arts resource. How lucky are we?)
Best clothing store
1. Forget Me Not Shop
2. Shaw’s General Store
3. Green Envy
Nominees: AJ’s Ski & Sports, Bunya Bunya, Decisions Clothing, In Company Clothing, Miller’s Country Outfitters, Stowe Street Emporium, The Boutique at Stowe Mercantile, Well Heeled.
Folks like a bargain, they do. Forget Me Not, a local institution for over three decades, is at your service with an ever-changing selection of name-brand, off-price clothes for the whole family.
1. Pinnacle Ski & Sports
2. AJ’s Ski & Sports
3. Waterbury Sports
Nominees: Caplan’s, Johnson Farm & Garden, MountainOps, Power Play Sports, Shaw’s General Store, The Great Outdoors, Vermont Trailwear.
Neck-and-neck at the top of the ticket, but Pinnacle ekes out the win, supplanting AJ’s, last year’s top pick.
Best children’s shop
1. Yellow Turtle
2. Once Upon a Time Toys
3. The Tiny Acorn
Runner-up: Stowe Street Emporium
Got kids? Nieces and nephews? Grandkids? Stop sending your money to giant, faceless, non-taxpaying corporate behemoths. Keep that money local. These local stores for kids have everything. And if by chance they don’t, your kids probably didn’t need it anyway.
Best place to get pet supplies
1. Dogs Etc.
2. Guy’s Farm & Yard
3. The Dog and Cat
Nominees: Aubuchon Hardware, Johnson Farm & Garden, Menard’s Agway, Stowe Kennel Kare, Tractor Supply.
Fetch, human. Seems pet owners are as loyal to their pet supply/pet food store as they are to their pets. Dogs Etc. edged its competition for Best in Show.
Best gift store
1. Stowe Kitchen Bath & Linens
1. Stowe Mercantile
3. Remarkable Things/Stowe Craft
Nominees: Birdfolk Collective, Body Lounge, Bunya Bunya, Cabot Annex Shops, Country Store on Main, Once Upon a Time Toys, Stowe Street Emporium, Tangerine & Olive.
Phew. Another nail biter, as is tradition in this category, but this year Kate Carpenter’s eclectic store — much, much more than kitchens, baths and linens — tied for first with Marc Sherman and Trudy Trombley’s Mercantile, where shoppers can pick up Stowe-themed gear, Vermont-made housewares, and even create their own treat mixes from a large stash of candy jars. Still biting your nails? They probably have great clippers at SKBL!
Best specialty shop
1. Fly Rod Shop
2. Body Lounge
3. Stash N’ Stowe
Nominees: Pink Colony, Two Sisters Mercantile, Viceland (Good Stuff).
Do these results reveal some deeper meaning? Fishing, skin and body care, and pipes? But really, for a balanced life, what else to you need? Fishing soothes the soul. Lotions and potions give good skin, and there’s not much in life more important than good skin. And, handcrafted glass pipes make, well, great conversation pieces. Frankly, shouldn’t we all start talking (not shouting) to each other more? Fish on! Rub it in! Smoke it, er, talk it up!
Best place to buy CBD products
1. CBD Vermont
2. Elevated State VT
3. Morrisville Co-op
Nominees: Body Lounge, Commodities Natural Market, Elmore Mountain Therapeutics, Green Hut CBD, Sunflower Natural Foods, Zenbarn.
The sleepless says it promotes sleep, those in pain say it reduces inflammation, the stressed out say it fights stress, and the overweight say it promotes weight loss. And that’s just the tip of the bud. As more and more folks swear by cannabidiol oil, or CBD, its users have developed loyal followings — all of our winners and nominees received a fair number of votes — getting what they need from this crop of businesses, both old and new. They’re even putting it in our cocktails. Oh what a world, what a world.
1. Bear Pond Books
2. Bridgeside Books
3. Ebenezer Books
Nominees: Galaxy Bookshop, The Literary.
Ah, to live in a place where people still read books. Not on machines, but real books. Thank you, Jennifer, Hiata and JJ. Blessed.
1. Stowe Kitchen Bath & Linens
2. Johnson Farm & Garden
3. Stowe Hardware
Nominees: Aubuchon Hardware, Bridgeside Home (closed), Country Store on Main, Hannon Home Center, Stowe Craft Design Center, Stowe Mercantile, Stowe Street Emporium.
This was a close one, with most of the nominees posting solid results. Comforting in this era of big-box shopping, chains and online price gouging that our local establishments continue to keep the house stocked. From bet-you-can-find-it-at SKBL to Johnson Farm’s expansive setup and a chock-full Stowe Hardware, you’ll still find most things you need for the house and garden in our own backyards. In spades.
Best resale shop
1. Creative Consignments
3. Bargain Boutique
Nominees: Nicky’s Nook, Second Chance.
It’s a Disposable, Disposable World … great to see so many second chances.
1. Uncle George’s Flowers
2. Peck’s Flower Shop
3. Proud Flower
Nominees: Bramble & Bloom, From Maria’s Garden, The Painted Tulip, Wildflower Designs.
Making the world a better place, one stem, one flower, one bouquet at a time. Thank you Ute, Emily and Nina.
Best real estate agent
1. Pete Kelly
2. Susan Martin
3. McKee Macdonald
Nominees: Bobby Roberts, Cindy Lyons, Denise Trombley, Pall Spera, Peggy Smith, Sharon Bateman, Susi Benoit.
1. Donald P. Blake Jr. Inc.
2. Gyllenborg Construction
3. Gristmill Builders
Nominees: Aaron Flint Builders, Alec Genung Construction, Beacon Hill Builders, Gordon Dixon Construction, Patterson & Smith Construction, Sisler Builders, Tim Meehan Builders.
Best architect or architectural designer
1. Milford Cushman — Cushman Design Group
2. Andrew Volansky — Volansky Studio, Architecture & Planning
3. Erika Dodge — ELD Architecture
Nominees: Brian Hamor — Hamor Architecture; Bud Wilson — Wilson Architecture; Ernie Ruskey — Tektonica Studio Architects; Greg Paus — Silver Ridge Design; Malcolm Appleton; Paul Robert Rousselle — Paul Robert Rousselle Architect; Sam Scofield — Sam Scofield Architect.
Collaborative. Responsive. Professional. Intuitive. Respectful. Milford Cushman is our readers’ favorite, once again.
Best interior design
1. Remarkable Home — Stowe Craft
2. Teri Maher Interiors
3. Linda Post Interior Design
Nominees: Amber Hodgins Design, Brenna B Interiors, Design Studio — Kathleen Dever, Sally Stetson Design, Seldom Scene Interiors, Tania Kratt.
Our reader’s choice again this year, Susan Bayer-Fishman mixes a passion for both art and interior design to create a lovely home — yours.
Best antique shop
1. Buggy Man Antiques
2. Martha Lewis Antiques
3. Early Vermont Antiques
Nominees: Chalet Life, Sir Richard’s Antiques.
Meet Mark and Ed. They are Buggy Man Antiques. Knowledgeable, friendly, funny, honest … everything you need in an antique dealer. Oh, and they’re excellent pickers to boot, and masters of the handwritten description.
Best lawn care
1. Glowac Grounds Care
2. Stowe Home Care
3. Yankee Home Solutions
Nominees: Mini Mayo’s Property Management, Lawn Rangers, Loomis Property Services.
Glowac Grounds will help your lawn glow up.
1. Benita’s Gardens
2. Ambler Design
3. Green Mountain Landscaping
Nominees: Glowac Grounds Care, Green Sleeves, Loomis Property Services, Roberts Landscape & Supplies, Sprout LLC, Stowe Home Care, Yankee Home Solutions.
Benita Diamond makes your garden grow.
Best auto repair
1. 253 AUTO
2. Willie’s Village Auto
3. Waterbury Center Auto Repair
Nominees: Bob’s Repair, Bourne’s Service Center, Checkered Flag, Duxbury Auto Tech, Fred’s Import Specialists, Larson’s Auto, Madadashcar, Snowfire, Ted’s Kar Kare, Waterbury Service Center.
253 AUTO rode into Stowe just about a year ago and rebuilt the auto repair landscape. Waterbury folks, it seems, have far more options, splitting their votes among a half-dozen mechanical magicians.
Best ski/snowboard shop
1. Pinnacle Ski & Sports/skiessentials.com
2. AJ’s Ski & Sports
3. Waterbury Sports
Nominees: Darkside, MountainOps, Power Play Sports, Race Stock Sports, Stowe Mountain Resort/Front Four, Today’s Edge, Triple Diamond Ski & Sport/No School Snowboard Shop.
Once again the competition was fierce, but Pinnacle rode the lift right back to the top.
Best ski or snowboard instructor
1. Mike Tasi
2. Chris Brown
Nominees: Mike Beagan, Stan Biasini, Christine Colangeli, Alan Craig, Josey Furrer, Nate Gardner, Lynn Gorski, Chip Martin, Kim Martin, Ryan Norton, Reni King-Riesen, JT Vize.
In summer, Mike Tasi is Stowe Tennis Club’s resident pro. Come winter, he turns his athletic prowess — and teaching ability — to the hill.
Best bike shop
1. Pinnacle Ski & Sports
2. Chuck’s Bikes
3. AJ’s Ski & Sports
Nominees: Bicycle Express, Bootlegger Bikes, Mansfield Cycles, MountainOps, Power Play Sports, Waterbury Sports.
Pinnacle flipped Chuck’s Bikes over the handlebars to win it this year.