Best in class: Ireland’s top ten best designed shops for 2016

In a world of chain stores, independent shops are the jewels in the high streets of our towns and villages. Such shops are thriving, in part because customers often prefer to support local business. Many shops in the top 10 have been running for many years or even decades.

Best in class

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The panel of the Irish Times Best Shops in Ireland award scrutinised a list of over 30,000 entries from readers of the Times to find 2016’s top 10.

Each shop offers something extra that makes them so popular, such as unique products or items sourced locally or across the globe.

The design and layout can be as important as the products, enhancing the customer experience enormously. This is why some shops call in experts such as

Finally, the key to any successful shop is always the customer service.

Best craft/gift shop: The Old Mill Stores, Gortnaroe

Started 16 years ago, this shop sources products from as far as afield as China and as close to home as around the corner.

Best bookshop: Ulysses Rare Books, Dublin

The windows reveal some of the store’s rare finds and customers are positively encouraged to come in and touch the books.

Best café: The Phoenix Café, Dublin

Beautifully situated in the grounds of Ashdown Castle, Phoenix Park.

Best specialist shop: Musicmaker, Dublin

This shop specialises in guitar strings and has a thriving rental business, supplying everything from drum kits to amps.

Best food and drink shop: Cavistons Food Emporium, Glasthule

A presence in the village since 1949, the emporium specialises in fresh fish and seafood.

Best visual merchandising: Optica, Dublin

This was a hard-fought category, as shop design in Dublin is particularly strong. The shop features pieces by Dublin-based sculptor Niamh Berry.

Best fashion shop: Samui, Cork

Despite the high-end prices, all customers in this stylish clothes shop are made to feel welcome and valued.

Best home and design shop: MRCB, Dublin

Irish Times readers singled out this interiors shop for its exemplary customer service.

Best family-run shop: CH Chemists, Tralee

This store houses a pharmacy, opticians and beauty salon and has a particularly good cosmetics and beauty offering.

Best salon: Edvard & Pink, Dundrum

This award-winning salon is spread over three floors, with treatment rooms, nail stations and a brow and lash bar.

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