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Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 12:02 am

BOS '18: Goods & Services

Photo by Brian Bowles



Recycled Records

625 E. Adams St., 522-5122

You can buy records or CDs anywhere, really. Amazon has ’em. So do a handful of, bless their hearts, indie – and is there any other kind these days – record stores in town. Readers decreed Recycled Records the best, and it’s not hard to see, or better yet hear, why. The selection is monstrously huge and dates back decades, so they’ve got you covered whether you’re into Kanye West or Perry Como. They’ll order darn near anything you can think of. They do eBay, but not very well, and that’s part of the charm of this place. It’s a throwback to the days when the more space your music collection took up, the richer you were. And the music is just the beginning. From neon beer signs to books to lamps to stereo gear to posters to Hudson’s Bay Co. blankets, you never know what you’ll find at this place where they buy and flip darn near anything that’s cool.

Finalists: Antique/Vintage Shop: Abe’s Old Hat, Lisa’s Antique Mall, Merchant House, Springfield Vintage
Finalists: Best Music Shop: Capital City Music, The Rock Shop

Brahler Tire and Auto Center

531 E. Laurel St., 523-5645

Your car needs to be reliable, and there’s no better guarantee of reliability than a reliable repair shop to keep your ride maintained so it keeps going and fix it properly if it stops. A locally owned shop that’s been in business for nearly 50 years is the essence of reliable, and that helps explain why readers say that Brahler is the best. In addition to Brahler Tire and Auto Center on Laurel Street, Brahler has five lube centers scattered around Springfield that offer quick and competent oil changes. Whether the issue is a broken timing belt that’s made you a pedestrian or an overdue oil change that needs addressing before you drive to Yellowstone for vacation, Brahler has you covered. They’ll pick you up if you’re stranded, serve you popcorn while you wait and even provide your pooch with free dog biscuits.

Finalists: A Cheap Tire and Auto Repair, Knox Knolls Auto Care, Vern’s Auto Repair


United Community Bank

1900 West Iles Ave., 787-3000
700 Stevenson Drive, 529-3000
617 Bruns Lane, 787-3001
120 Chatham Road, 787-1651
2120 Peoria Road, 544-0139
3200 West Iles Ave., 787-5111

When stuff goes sideways with a home loan, your checking account or a debit card, relying on someone in New York or Asia to solve the problem can be dicey – don’t get us started on the two-month hell we once endured from an East Coast outfit that blamed everyone but itself for mailing a five-figure cashier’s check with no tracking, which ended up lost. Wouldn’t have happened, the local manager of the national conglomerate told us, if this had been a local bank instead of one headquartered a zillion miles away, and he was, bless his honesty, exactly right. That experience taught us to take our business to United Community Bank, and we have been, no exaggeration, delighted. Free checking with no minimum balance. Always a nearby branch, with Saturday hours and real people who offer help, not excuses, and it’s as easy to conduct business online as it is in person. If your check gets lost in the mail, these folks aren’t going to put you on hold, they’re going to get things fixed. A true gem in the local business fabric.

Finalists: Best Bank: Bank of Springfield, Illinois National Bank, Marine Bank, Town and Country Bank

Finalists: Best Mortgage Lending Institution: Bank of Springfield, CEFCU, Heartland Credit Union, Illinois National Bank

Henson Robinson Company

3550 Great Northern, 544-8451

A company that has been around since the days of Abraham Lincoln must be doing something right. In 1861, a young man named Henson Robinson began supplying Union soldiers with tin ware. The company now offers specialty sheet metal fabrication, but is better known for HVAC services, which once again won recognition from our readers. The employee-owned company has also been recognized as one of Springfield Business Journal’s Best Places to Work.

Finalists: Bavetta & Son, LLC; Darrin Wood Heating and Cooling; DP Heating & Cooling; Rich Gatschenberger Heating and Cooling

Hair of the Dog Bar/Ber Shop

323 E. Monroe St., 670-0699

“Full service barbering, now with full service bartending,” boasts the website for the cleverly named Hair of the Dog Bar/Ber Shop – and that pretty much says it all about our voters’ favorite barbershop. If you’re in the market for traditional barbering, a hot shave or beard trim while quaffing from drink selections ranging from craft beer, artisan spirits and fine wine to more down-to-earth libations like PBR and Stag, Hair of the Dog is just the place to go.  As hairofthedogbarbershop.com puts it: “American traditional barbershop with a bar. What’s not to love?”

Finalists: Beggs Barber Shop, Dukett’s Barber Shop, Precision Barbers, The Barbershop

Ace Bicycle Shop

2500 S. MacArthur Blvd., 523-0188

Finalists: Biketek, R & M Cyclery, Scheels, Wheel Fast Bicycle Co.

Barnes & Noble

3111 S. Veterans Pkwy., 546-9440

Finalists: Book Rack, Elf Shelf Books & Music, Prairie Archives, The Book Nook

Precision Barbers/Detailing Paint and Body Repair

230 S. Grand Ave E., 416-0857

Precision Barbers/Detailing Paint and Body Repair is the only shop in Springfield where both you and your ride can leave looking better than when you arrived. Best of Springfield voters were quick to single out the top-notch detailing services available from Trevor Miller and his staff. The crew at Precision is friendly, knowledgeable and, most importantly, offer a quick (2-5 hours on average) and affordable full-detailing special. We put Precision to the test by dropping off a new-to-us car for detailing. When we picked it up several hours later, it looked and smelled like a brand new vehicle. In addition to barbershop and detailing services, Precision offers window tinting, spray-in bed liners, ceramic coating, paint and body repairs, and more.

Finalists: Danno’s Auto Detailing, Recon Techs Springfield, Robert’s Automotive, Sparkling Clean Car Wash

Dale Ferguson

Green Certified West
2541 W. Iles Ave., 241-7888

When you hear someone described as having the personality of a used-car salesman, it’s not always meant in a positive way. However, our readers seem to feel very positively about Dale Ferguson, and after a tie last year he clinched the category for Best Car Salesman in 2018. A native of Rochester, he says he receives many referrals from friends and family members, along with satisfied customers. “I really enjoy getting to meet people from all different aspects of life. It’s fun to hear everyone’s story and get to know who they are, outside of their vehicle purchase,” he explains. Our readers have certainly enjoyed getting to know Dale, and after just three years in the car business he’s already a local favorite.

Finalists: Ernie Burtle, Burtle Motors; Brad Voyda, Freedom Chevrolet;
Paul Walsh, Friendly Chevrolet; Brian Wilbern, Robert’s Automotive

Once Upon A Child

4225 Wabash Ave., 679-7134

Part of a national chain that also includes such niche secondhand stores as Plato’s Closet and Play It Again Sports, Once Upon A Child is based on three simple concepts: Kids grow fast, they don’t need Versace and buying new clothes can get expensive. Among other cool things, you can bring in the stuff that doesn’t fit anymore, sell it and then stock up on larger sizes – trading up, as it were. Sure, you could do the same thing by combing eBay and shopping thrift stores, but time is important, and Once Upon A Child saves both time and money.

Finalists: Gypsy Tribe, Just Kids, The Children’s Place

Clothes Mentor

2329 W. Monroe, 698-8485

Located next door to Plato’s Closet, Clothes Mentor is the grown-up version of the same concept. If you love the thrill of the hunt at a yard sale or thrift store, you’ll be out of luck here. While the merchandise is gently used, it’s all sorted by size, style and even color. Everything is brand name and current fashions, so it’s more like a shopping trip to the mall, but at a fraction of the price. They’ve got you covered for everything from going to the gym to a cocktail party. And if you need shoes, jewelry or a purse to complete the look, they’ve got that, too. Need to clean out your closet to make room for your new finds? Clothes Mentor will pay cash for the items you no longer want. You can look like a million bucks without breaking your budget.

Finalists: Clothing Rack, Once Upon a Child, Plato’s Closet, Second Time Around

Rainstorm Car Wash

3101 Hedley Road, 670-1642
321 Cranmer Drive, 679-8243

Finalists: Car Wash City, Gas N Wash, On Track Car Wash, Sparkling Clean Car Wash

Nelson’s Catering

3005 Great Northern Rd., 787-9443

Finalists: 5Flavors Catering, Cured Catering, Hamilton’s Catering, Poe’s Catering

Heartland Credit Union

2213 W. White Oaks Dr., 726-8877

Heartland Credit Union’s motto is “Bank like You Own the Place.” The more than 24,000 members must feel pride of ownership, because our readers have consistently voted them as the best credit union. While they offer the same types of mortgages, home equity loans and auto loans as larger financial institutions, the staff engages with customers the way a small lender would, calling people by name and providing friendly customer service. HCU was founded in 1946 but continues to grow, recently adding a fifth location in Springfield.

Finalists: CEFCU, Illinois Educators Credit Union, Illinois State Police Credit Union, Land of Lincoln Credit Union

Starcrest Cleaners

2025 S. MacArthur Blvd., 679-0339
2701 W. White Oaks Dr.,726-6564
1825 W. Jefferson St.,670-0663
4349 Conestoga Dr,  787-5580

Finalists: Davis Cleaners, Paris Cleaners, Peerless Cleaners, Village Cleaners

BEST BARBER SHOP Hair of the Dog Bar/Ber Shop
Photo by Brian Bowles


B & B Electric, Inc.

3000 Reilly Drive, 528-9666

B & B Electric is a family-owned business, founded by Fred Brinkman in 1962. His son, Todd Brinkman, has served as the company’s president since 1992. In addition to electrical services, the company provides security systems, fire alarms, voice data and more for commercial, institutional or industrial projects. Their work ranges from historic buildings such as the State Capitol and the Illinois State Fairgrounds to new construction. B & B specializes in design-build projects, which helps streamline the process among the owner, general contractor, design team and subcontractors, ultimately saving both time and money.

Finalists: Jim Watts Electric, Ruby Electric, Ryan Electric, Senergy Electric

Noonan Grand Rental

3031 Koke Mill Rd., 546-7368

Just 10 years after opening, Noonan Grand Rental has become Springfield’s best event rental company. But that doesn’t mean that Noonan is a newcomer to the capital city. The Noonan family has been doing business here since 1947, when they opened a north end hardware store (and yes, Noonan’s True Value Hardware still thrives on North Grand Avenue East). The Koke Mill location is a rental store on steroids and is the city’s go-to spot for folks organizing weddings or reunions or sundry other shindigs. From inflatable bounce houses to dance floors to cotton candy machines to drink glasses to sound systems to tents of all shapes and sizes, Noonan has it, and if you want to build a gazebo as a centerpiece, they can also rent you all the tools you need to do the job.

Finalists: Best Expo, Rustic Love Rentals, Signature Event Rental

Tate Jones

United Community Bank Financial Services
3200 W. Iles, 787-5111

Tate Jones has been a financial adviser with UCB for 15 years, offering a full range of financial planning services. “My favorite part of my job is helping customers meet their goals,” he said. “That might be saving for retirement, sending a child to college, or building wealth. But it’s all about financial education so they know their options.” If you have questions about stocks, bonds, IRAs or 401ks, Tate can help with that, too. Our readers certainly appreciate his services, giving him the title of Best Financial Adviser again this year.

Finalists: Brent Davis, Edward Jones; Drew Davis, Davis Financial; Tate Hartman, Heartland Financial; Mark Kluemke, M.A. Kluemke

Fifth Street Flower Shop

739 S. Fifth St., 522-3334

Fifth Street Flower Shop has been a consistent favorite with readers for years now, and it’s not hard to see why. Big selection. Central location. Wide price range. Locally owned. We recommend a personal visit as opposed to phoning it in. They’ll take all the time you need and answer every question so you can be sure that things will be just exactly perfect.

Finalists: Flowers by Mary Lou, Petals and Company, Trendsetters, True Colors Floral

Apple Barn

2290 E. Walnut, Chatham, 483-6236

AppleBarn is the perfect mash-up of county fair, neighborhood bakery and mulch emporium. They sell fudge, apples if you’re on a health kick, and there’s also a bakery in case you need a loaf of bread to take home. Outside, you’ll find flowers and shrubs and other cool stuff that every garden needs. They’re open year-round, so you know where to go when you need a Christmas tree or wreath.

Finalists: Ace Hardware, Green View, Lowe’s, Pleasant Nursery

The Cardologist

627 E. Adams St., 525-4121

A quick look at the storefront housing The Cardologist lets you know what you are getting into: colorful letters proclaim that this is the place for those in the market for “Cards, Socks, Fun, Stupid Sh*t.” Or as the three-decade-old gift shop’s Facebook page would have it, this is a place where “questionable life choices collide with pervy sense of humor.” Owner Doug Mayol prides his store on being different, and our readers appreciate it. “Not some namby-pamby Hallmark store,” the Facebook page says elsewhere. It’s worth noting The Cardologist has outlasted all the Springfield Hallmark locations – must be onto something.

Finalists: Gypsy Soul, Kennedy Sue Gift & Home, Penny Lane, Studio on 6th


2115 S. MacArthur Blvd., 726-1001

Hy-Vee has hit its stride, not that it has ever been off its footing since wowing the MacArthur Boulevard crowd when it opened in 2014, finally filling a food desert centered squarely between Leland Grove, the apartments formerly known as MacArthur Park and Blessed Sacrament Church. The store has proven worthy, and we have to wonder whether the threatened demise of Shop ’n’ Save has anything to do with a finite number of mouths to feed and Hy-Vee filling them. The great center is Hy-Vee’s target, and so you’ll find a lot of competitively priced steaks, hamburger, pork chops and the like, along with a great produce department that, come to think of it, has never put out past-its-prime vegetables or fruits that we can recall. The ready-made food section is easily the best in town, whether you want Chinese or Italian or mashed potatoes and gravy, and the salad bar rocks.

Finalists: Aldi, County Market, Meijer, Schnuck’s


Buraski Builders

3757 S. Sixth St., 525-5172

If you’re lucky, you have a guy, an uncle or cousin, maybe, who’s handy with a hammer, shows up on time, cleans up after himself, finishes the job sooner rather than later, takes the time to explain stuff to you and does the work as if he’s going to live in the house himself, which is to say, quality is job one. Most of us are not that lucky. And so there is Buraski Builders, which does all of the above, and more. Finding reliable contractors can be a giant PITA. Buraski can coordinate most any project, ensuring subcontractors show up when they’re supposed to and do the work right the first time. From a bathroom remodel to building an entire house, they’ve done it all. You can give them a few sketches or just an idea or two, and they’ll help brainstorm whatever project you have in mind while making you feel like Frank Lloyd Wright.

Finalists: Best Home Remodeling Company: Creasey Construction, Geyston Remodel – Repair, Michael Von Behren Builders, Sutton’s

Finalists: Best New Home Builder: Creasey Construction, Craig Ladage Builders, Michael Von Behren Builders, Moughan Builders

Sundown One

4685 Wabash Ave., 793-8888

If you like it loud and local, you can’t beat Sundown One, the capital city’s premier stereo and home theater store since 1975. They install what they sell, and that includes hiding cables and wires behind walls and under floors for a clean visual effect, even when everything is turned off. They’re interested in what kind of sound and vision you have in mind, and so they’ll take the time to listen first, then make suggestions based on what you say that you want, taking into consideration a room’s acoustical qualities, where viewers will sit and ambient lighting to ensure the screen will be as vibrant as possible and every seat is first-row quality.

Finalists: Beatty Televisual, Best Buy, Fox Audio Visual

Missy Haley   

United Financial Services
404 N. Broad St., Carlinville, 854-4755

Whether you need insurance for your auto, home or business, Missy Haley has you covered. Worried about your rates? She can also shop your coverage around to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. “We have a large variety of insurance carriers, so we can usually find a product to meet someone’s needs,” she says. Haley has been in the insurance business for 28 years, so she knows her stuff. And while she’s based out of Carlinville, she says many of her clients are in Springfield and the surrounding areas, since United Financial Services is a division of United Community Bank. “We’re doing business with mutual customers from all the different UCB branches.” Haley says she takes pride in her customer service, and our readers seem to agree that she goes above and beyond for her clients.

Finalists: Mark Bailey, Bailey Family Insurance; Telly Beck, Shelter Insurance; Kate Birnbaum and Allison Hogan, Heartland Credit Union; Mark Cortesi, State Farm Insurance

Giganti & Giganti Fine Jewelry

3325 Robbins Rd., 793-3300

This place has it all. Diamonds. Silver. Platinum. Fancy watches from Switzerland and points beyond. While the quest for the best rings and watches and bracelets spans the globe, Giganti & Giganti is a family enterprise with deep local roots dating back to 1986. You won’t be disappointed.

Finalists: AB Lauer Jewelers, Denney Jewelers, Jamies The Diamond Mine, Luttrell Jewelers

Scooters Lawn Care
Jacob Godar of Scooters Lawn Care

3204 Bissell Road, 473-1472

From lawn care to landscaping, outdoor living to home services, Scooters Lawn Care is a full-service landscape company that will make your home the crown jewel of the neighborhood. With services that range from weekly lawn care to spring and fall cleanups, 3D design and installation of outdoor living spaces to gutter cleaning, pressure washing, holiday lighting and interior services (new for winter 2018), Scooters Lawn Care is quickly gaining local and national recognition with writeups in Green Industry Pros magazine, Ditch Witch news, Turf Magazine and more. Special acknowledgement goes to owner and landscape designer Jacob Godar, who founded Scooters Lawn Care in 2014 and has been named by Best of Springfield voters as 2018’s “Best Landscape Designer (Individual).” Congratulations, Jacob!
Finalists: Best Landscape Company: Buckley’s Prairie Landscaping, Greenview Garden Center, Knob Hill Landscape, Pleasant Nursery

Finalists: Best Landscape Designer: Dave Hannah, Greenview; Violet Jones, Harvest Moon Designs; David Pence, Greenview; Bill Standish, Knob Hill Landscape

Buckley’s Prairie Landscaping

3735 Chatham Road, 787-5033

Buckley’s is the perfect blend of do-it-yourself and lord, I need some help here. They’re happy to sell you the best bushes and flowers and trees and shrubs you’ll find anywhere, as well as the oft-dreaded water feature. Dread not, as Buckley’s backs what they sell and advice is free. They’ll install anything they sell, and when there’s no landscaping to be done, they plow snow from parking lots and driveways.

Finalists: Artisan Stone Products, Hilltop Nursery and Landscape Co., Lowe’s, Menards

BEST LAWYER (Staff Pick)
Peggy Ryan, Sorling Northurp

Let’s say you’re married to a guy who’s drawn interest from federal prosecutors. The Internal Revenue Service, which is owed millions of dollars in unpaid taxes accrued during the course of your marriage, wants its money. Former employees of your soon-to-be ex will win a $12 million judgment for unpaid wages. Creditors are owed many millions of dollars more, and bankruptcy is around the corner. And so the days of tooling around in fancy cars and relaxing in luxury homes appear to be nearing an end. Who you gonna call? If you’re Jennifer Parsons, now ex-wife of embattled entrepreneur Jeff Parsons, you call Peggy Ryan, and it may well have been the smartest phone call she ever made. While the IRS and sundry other creditors waited for cash, Jennifer Parsons, with Ryan as her divorce lawyer, got paid nearly $700,000 a few years back and walked away while her former husband’s empire crumbled and other litigants waited in line. It was largely unheralded work in an area of law largely unheralded, but it wasn’t surprising to folks familiar with Ryan, the best family law practitioner in the city. She’s a pit bull in court, compassionate behind the scenes and rarely quoted in the press. In short, everything anyone could ever want in an attorney.

Sgro, Hanrahan, Durr, Rabin and Bruce

1119 S. Sixth St., 789-1200

If you got yourself arrested, go elsewhere. These folks handle only civil cases. But they have a breadth of experience that’s hard to match for a mid-sized firm with strong local roots. Besides being lawyers, these folks know business, with Gregory Sgro, a developer when he’s not winning cases for clients, being a prime example. Personal injury, real estate and any kind of business litigation are the firm’s strong suits.

Finalists: Brown, Hay and Stephens; Sorling Northrup; Timoney and Page; Wolter, Beeman, Lynch and Londrigan


Binny’s Beverage Depot

2490 W. Wabash Ave., 787-3401

Well we remember the day we first walked into Binny’s Beverage Depot. That was years ago, in Chicago, where the chain is based, and we were floored, and eagered, by the selection we saw. Single malts. Gins of all shapes and sizes. A huge selection of beers, of course. We spent more money than we should have, because there was nothing like this around our neck of the woods. And now there is, with the opening of Binny’s on Wabash Avenue late last year. We would be remiss if we did not mention the wines. Binny’s has plenty, and a staff that can help guide you through, whether you need the perfect mead or the perfect merlot. What we’re talking about here is a massive amount of alcohol in a store that was once a Staples office supply outlet, and that’s a lot of square footage.

Finalists: Best Liquor Store: Friar Tuck, Hy-Vee, Northender, Riverton’s Party Store
Finalists: Best Retail Wine Store: Friar Tuck, Hy-Vee, It’s All About Wine, The Corkscrew

BEST DRY CLEANER Starcrest Cleaners
Photo by Carol Weems


Humphrey’s Market

1821 S. 15th St., 544-7445

Humphrey’s is a perennial winner in this category, and it’s easy to see, or better yet taste, why. They don’t charge more than bigger stores, but they take the time to pick steaks, chops and roasts that are a cut above other places. After nearly 90 years in business, you can be sure they know what they’re doing.

Finalists: Country Market, Hy-Vee, Magro’s Meat and Produce, Midstate Meat Co.

Isringhausen Imports

229 E. Jefferson St., 528-2277

The best part of Isringhausen, so far as we’re concerned, is that they’re downtown, which can use all the business it can get. The second thing we like most is that they’ve been around forever. You don’t stay in business for 37 years by ripping people off and making excuses. The third thing we like most is that the company has invested in the community, with Geoff Isringhausen, company owner, helping start up the Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation in hopes of bringing new jobs. The fourth thing we like most is the passion of the company, which participates in Porsche racing events across the nation. The fifth thing, which really is the most important thing, is that Isringhausen sells really, really cool cars. It has the local market cornered on brand-new Porsche 911 Carreras, and if you can’t quite make room for a six-figure ride in the family budget, there are more affordable options, starting around $40,000 for a Volvo. All of the above helps explain why Isringhausen has a national reputation, and why readers rave.

Finalists: Freedom Chevrolet Virden, Green Hyundai, Green Toyota, Landmark Ford

Monster Pawn

2324 S. MacArthur Blvd., 744-7296

Monster Pawn stepped up its game during the past year with the opening of Monster Pawn and Ammo adjacent to the pawn shop proper on MacArthur Boulevard, with a massage parlor and a rent-to-own furniture store as strip mall neighbors. It’s not nearly as seedy as it might sound. In fact, it’s not seedy at all. The pawn shop is spotless, well-organized and expertly staffed, with the usual array of guitars, tools and electronics alongside more unusual fare such as Cheech and Chong action figures, which makes just-for-fun visits a source of cheap, and often fascinating, entertainment. Every pawn shop worth the name needs guns, of course, and so the firearms side of the equation, added this past year, is a welcome addition to the local gun scene, offering both new and secondhand weapons. If Glocks and assault rifles aren’t your thing, you can be thankful that the business has plenty of bars on the windows and barriers between the parking lot and building to help prevent thefts and keep everyone safe.

Finalists: Pawn King, Stevenson Drive Pawn Shop

C.T. Adams Pest Control

1425 S. MacArthur Blvd., 544-2122

Charles T. “Sonny” Adams II started working in the family business right after high school. He and his wife, Angie, now own the company and their son, Bryan, is the fifth generation to work for Adams Pest Control. The company provides both residential and commercial services as well as real estate inspections. A testimonial on their website from local Realtor Nikki Cowan says, “C.T. Adams Pest Control has been my company of choice for my clients. They are prompt, professional and willing to go the extra mile when I need a quick turnaround or treatment.” No one enjoys dealing with pests, but when the need arises, our readers enjoy working with C.T. Adams Pest Control.

Finalists: Adams Pest Control, Bacon’s Termite & Pest Control, Fidelis Pest Solutions, Sentinel Pest Control


Laketown Animal Hospital

1115 Stevenson Dr., 529-4211

“They are amazing, compassionate and competent. Very happy with everyone I have come in contact with here,” says one Facebook review of Laketown Animal Hospital, exemplifying the trust and loyalty which placed them in the number one spot with our readers in two categories. “They treat them like their own and remember them every time they come in,” reads another online testimonial. “I would recommend them to anyone.” A family-owned establishment that offers grooming, laser therapy and surgery for furry friends – along with the general pet care and boarding which earned our voters’ love – Laketown has six veterinarians on staff, and has been operating for 50 years.

Finalists: Best Pet Boarding: Dal Acres West Kennel, Howliday Inn & Suites, Kinner Kennels, Tail Command

Finalists: Best Veterinary Clinic: Brewer Animal Hospital, Coble Animal Hospital, Grace Veterinary Clinic, White Oaks West Animal Hospital

Suds N’ Pups

235 N. English Ave., 546-3686

Peanut is really sorry. Pugs, despite their Joe Cool outward demeanor, can sometimes get excited on the inside, and that’s the only reason why we can think that the best dog in the whole wide world took a giant poo on the groomer at Suds N’ Pups when we recently took her in for a pedicure. Less accomplished groomers would’ve screamed “Ack!” and dropped our baby in mid-bowel movement – and when Peanut goes, she really goes -- but not the guy at Suds N’ Pups, who delivered the finest nail trimming imaginable, then returned our innocent babe to our arms, with an “oh, by the way” when we asked if she’d been a good pug. Great service. Great prices. And best of all, great attitudes.

Finalists: Doggone Gorgeous, Kara’s In Town Grooming, Laketown Animal Hospital, Paws ‘N’ Claws Grooming

Tara Long – Tara Long Photography

733 S. Durkin Dr., 494-0405

Tara Long specializes in newborn, maternity, child and family photography and our voters think she’s the best in town. “Tara is the real deal,” reads one post in her Facebook review section, going on to describe Long as “genuine, giving and sincere. Not to mention flat-out gifted at capturing precious memories.” She started Tara Long Photography seven years ago and has since become one of the most trusted and sought-after photographers for families wanting to preserve memories. “Tara is a baby-whisperer,” gushed another social media post. “She makes newborn pictures of twins look easy – which is anything but! She’s a pro and knows all the tricks to make the babies, Mom, and other family members completely at ease.”

Finalists: Kate Blankenship, This Blue Dog; Ryan Mazrim, Ryan The Photographer; Kate Spencer, Kate Spencer Photography; Kenna Sturdy, KS Photography

Just Beds

3120 Montvale Dr., 698-6179

A mattress is one of the few things you can’t buy on the internet. You have to be able to lie down on the thing and ponder whether you could remain there, comfortably, for eight hours. They understand this at Just Beds, and so, while no one wants to lie down on the job, it’s perfectly OK for you to take all the time you need lying down and thinking about it at Just Beds. Billing themselves the “Yawn Exterminators,” Just Beds has been around for more than 20 years and is locally owned, always a plus, and they offer free delivery and removal of your old bed, so you don’t have to put an ad on Craigslist.

Finalists: Barney’s Furniture, Lebeda Mattress Factory, Mattress Firm, Verlo Mattress of Springfield

Magnolia Lane Home Décor and More

3600 S. Sixth St. Road, 503-6513

When it comes to shopping for stylish and affordable home furnishings, look no further than Magnolia Lane Home Décor and More. The showroom and warehouse carry a wide selection of overstock furniture items from Macy’s along with a variety of other brand new furniture and home décor, including select items from the popular Magnolia Home collection by Chip and Joanna Gaines. All items are sold as is, and while the store does not offer holds on their pieces, they do offer frequent sales, post pictures of new items regularly to Facebook, and have a seven-day pick-up policy on all items, effective from the date on your receipt. From farmhouse chic to mid-century modern, Magnolia Lane Furnishings Home Décor and More has it all.

Finalists: Ashley Furniture HomeStore, Barney’s Furniture, Hendricks Home Furnishings, Kennedy Sue Gift & Home

Photo by Brandon Turley


Robert’s Seafood Market

1615 Jefferson St., 546-3089

World War I was raging, but we weren’t yet over there, when Robert’s Seafood got started in 1916. If there’s an older place to buy foodstuffs in Springfield, we can’t think of it. The seafood isn’t nearly as old as the business, however, and that explains why Robert’s has lasted as long as it has. The offerings, simply, are top notch. We’ve all been there, pondering at a supermarket, wondering if the salmon or ahi tuna is as fresh as it could or should be. At Robert’s, you don’t have to wonder. It just works. Every time. They also offer a fine selection of cheeses and meats and various gourmet goodies.

Finalists: Carter’s Fish Market, Hy-Vee, Sam’s Club, Schnuck’s

Ridings Plumbing

3609 S. Douglas Ave., 544-6890

Sometimes plumbing projects are planned, such as a bathroom or kitchen remodel. Other times, you may find yourself dealing with an unexpected issue when the sewer backs up or a pipe bursts. Ridings Plumbing understands that when you need a plumber, you need one now. The company has been providing residential and commercial plumbing services since 1996. Owner John Ridings says, “We have a good group of employees who have the best interest of our customers in mind. Our employees are prompt and courteous, and they take pride in their work.” In a testimonial on the website, local Realtor Steve Contri explains, “Ridings Plumbing has been handling my plumbing needs for 20-plus years – inspection repairs, income properties and new construction. For minor and major jobs, they provide the same quality service and clean-up at the job sites when done. I don’t have the time and I don’t have the plumbing knowledge to do the job right, which is why I use the professionals at Ridings Plumbing.”

Finalists: Allied Plumbing & Heating, Easterday Plumbing, F.J. Murphy and Son; Rick Ray Plumbing

Green Hyundai Certified North

1200 S. Dirksen Pkwy., 525-1370

Finding the perfect pre-owned car can be a challenge, but if the Facebook reviews are any indication, the Green Hyundai Certified North sales team makes it easy. The staff goes above and beyond to understand the wants and needs of their customers and has extensive knowledge of the vehicles on their lot in order to pair shoppers with the best vehicle to suit their needs. Many sales at Green Hyundai Certified North are to repeat customers, which is a testament to their slogan, “it’s not about cars, it’s about people,” which you’ve surely heard if you’ve tuned into any local radio or television station anytime over the past decade. This message is further emphasized by their commitment to and participation in community-oriented events and fundraisers, such as Style of Hope, complimentary child safety seat checks and more.

Finalists: Freedom Chevrolet Virden, Landmark Ford, Robert’s Automotive, Tjelmeland Laketown

The Real Estate Group, Inc

3701 W. Wabash Ave., 787-7000

With 150 agents – more than any other firm – The Real Estate Group is a major player in the local real estate scene. More than one out of every five listings or sales with a Realtor in Sangamon County involves an agent from The Group. The company began in 1997 with seven partners, which has now grown to 32, with Mike Buscher as managing broker. Along the way, The Real Estate Group has acquired several smaller companies: Realty 100, Aspen Real Estate, Grady Realtors and Wrightsman-Musso. The end result is a diverse group of agents working at The Group, some on their own and some as part of larger teams. In addition to residential transactions, there are Realtors who specialize in commercial and agricultural sales. Some of the agents also offer property management or home staging services. With something for everyone, it’s no wonder our readers found so much to like about The Real Estate Group.

Finalists: Campo Realty, Coldwell Banker Springfield, Keller Williams, Remax Professionals

Kyle Killebrew

Killebrew & Co Real Estate Team, The Real Estate Group, Inc
3701 W. Wabash Ave., 321-8210

Kyle Killebrew comes across as a down-to-earth guy who was born and raised in a small town (Greenview, Illinois), married his high school sweetheart (Emily) and is now raising two kids (Ellie and Kase). He’s not the type to brag, but the statistics speak for him. Kyle happens to be the most prolific real estate agent in Sangamon County. In 2017, he had 311 transactions for a total of more than $55 million in listings and sales. But there’s nothing slick or high-pressure about him, and the success hasn’t gone to his head. He’s the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with or sit next to at your kid’s soccer game, which helps explain why IT readers voted him as their favorite real estate agent.

Finalists: Adam Bugos, The Real Estate Group; Michael Castleman, ReMax Professionals; Beverly Collins, ReMax Professionals; Jami Winchester, The Real Estate Group

Urban Sassafras

104 N. Sixth St., 210-2303

Sassafras. It’s a word that skates across the tongue, bringing an urge to gently sip soothing tonics conjured from tree bark and somesuch so that the horrible heat of summer dissipates and the head becomes clear. And that sort of thing, really, is at the heart of Urban Sassafras, a store that sells, not so much things that people require, but rather things that people need, and there is a big difference. The proprietors call it vintage glamour and industrial chic. We call it a store that sells things both practical – lamps and jackets, for instance – and artwork suitable for framing, a place where steam punk meets batik, and both are perfectly at home. Check it out.

Finalists: Itty Bitty Fashion Truck, Jim Herron Ltd., Studio on 6th, The Roost

Newage Tattoos

2915 S. MacArthur Blvd., 546-5006

One of the longest-standing tattoo parlors in town, Newage Tattoos has proven a perennial favorite with our readers. Owner and artist Jason Lee has been operating Newage since the mid-90s and their clientele trusts them to do the job right. “I have had multiple tattoos done as well as piercings at this shop,” said one satisfied customer on Facebook. “I couldn’t be happier with the level of professionalism as well as the knowledge that the artists have. Jason was absolutely fantastic at making sure what I wanted was exactly what I ended up with. I would recommend Newage to anyone, whether it is a simple piece or a complex piece of art you are wanting.”

Finalists: Black Moon Tattoos, Cloud N9ne Tattoo Studio, Living Ink Tattoo, Redbird Electric Tattooing

Habitat For Humanity ReStore

2744 S. Sixth St., 523-2710

If you’re frugal and own a home, or you need to furnish an apartment for cheap, it doesn’t get any better than this. What Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore lacks in clothes and record albums and slow cookers it more than makes up for with furniture, doors, windows, appliances and a ton of other stuff homeowners and handymen need. You never know. Sometimes you’ll find flooring, sometimes you’ll find ceiling tiles, sometimes you’ll find both, and it’s always dirt cheap. You have to like the cause. All proceeds go toward building homes for folks who don’t qualify for mortgages but pitch in and work to build or fix up houses for themselves and their families. Since coming to Sangamon County in 1989, the organization has built or renovated more than 100 houses. That’s a lot of dreams come true.

Finalists: Abe’s Tradin’ Post, Land of Lincoln Goodwill, Salvation Army, Second Time Around

Lauterbach Tire & Auto Service

1569 Wabash Ave., 546-2600

Remember when Paul Bunyan lost his head? If you were around in 2006, when a tornado blew through Springfield, you could hardly forget. But the head was soon reattached, rendering Paul, who still stands guard in front of the Jerome tire shop, good as new. That’s kind of how Lauterbach does things: They just get things fixed. You get a flat, they fix it, and if you bought the tire from Lauterbach, it’s free, as are tire rotations. Established in 1978 under a different name, the shop became Lauterbach when Jay Lauterbach bought the place back in 1985. Sadly, Jay Lauterbach passed away last month, but the business he built lives on, strong as ever. Kinda like Paul Bunyan.

Finalists: Brahler Tire and Auto Center, Checkpoint Tire and Service, Discount Tire, Pomp’s Tire Service

Upper Limits

1205 S. Second St., 679-4315

Vaping is all the rage these days, and no one wants to inhale nicotine and, potentially, other things in just any old way. That’s why $400 glass dabbing rigs and e-cigarettes and sundry other devices that will never get near a lighter or match exist. Truly, the mind boggles when considering the array of contraptions available, and contraptions sometimes need parts. Upper Limits has both a mind-blowing selection of contraptions and parts as well as a staggering selection of e-liquids, flavors ranging from peach to granola, containing various amounts of nicotine. Heck, if you’re going to be addicted to something, might as well consume it in style. For the less fussy, they also sell rolling papers.

Finalists: BloNoSmoke, DTI’s eCig City, Freedom Vapes, Tribble Vapors


Incredibly Delicious

925 S. Seventh St., 528-8548  

When it comes to pastries of all kinds, our readers’ clear preference is for Incredibly Delicious, which swept three categories this year. As one review on the ID Facebook page put it: “With a name like that you better deliver and, oh my, did they ever! Best of all were the baked goods…Superb job!” Whether stopping in for coffee and a macaron, grabbing a quick snack while browsing the booths at the farmers market or choosing a cake for the most special of special occasions, Incredibly Delicious lives up to its name. “Best cake I have ever had, by far,” gushed one satisfied customer on Facebook. “Classic and elegant.”

Finalists: Best Wedding Cakes: Charlotte’s Cakes, Hy-Vee, Specialty Cakes, Three Twigs Bakery
Finalists: Best Bakery: Charlotte’s Cakes, Smallcakes: Cupcakery and Creamery, Specialty Cakes, Three Twigs Bakery
Finalists: Best Farmers Market Vendor: Cooper’s StrEATside Bistro, Custom Cup Coffee, Spartan Valley Olive Oil, Suttill’s Gardens

Erin’s Pavilion

4965 S. Second St. (Southwind Park),

Finalists: Artisan Building (Illinois State Fairgrounds), Inn at 835, Illini Country Club, President Abraham Lincoln Springfield

Washington Park

Finalists: Erin’s Pavilion, Hill Prairie Winery, Long Bridge Golf Course, Sheedy Shores Winery

3183 S. Veterans Parkway, 698-3091

Finalists: Lincoln’s Doggie Delicatessen, Nature’s Select Pet Store of Springfield, Pet Supplies Plus, Wild Bird Unlimited

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