Best of Jackson 2016: Urban Living | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Best of Jackson 2016: Urban Living

Photo courtesy Greenbrook Flowers

Photo courtesy Greenbrook Flowers

Best Art Gallery: Fondren Art Gallery

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Photo courtesy Fondren Art Gallery

3030 N. State St., 601-981-9222, fondrenartgallery.com

Driving along North State Street north of the Fondren business district, one cannot help but notice a colorful sculpture of President Obama's head. The piece belongs to Richard McKey, a painter and sculptor, who owns Fondren Art Gallery.

The art gallery has paintings and prints of multiple genres from many number of artists across Jackson, Mississippi, and the nation such as Darryl Anderson and Kelli Berry. "I first started painting ... about (20) years ago," McKey says. "Seven years ago, I decided Fondren needed an art gallery where I could display not only my own work, but the work of other artists. Many times people will just walk in and ask for their art to be displayed. I almost always agree to do so."

Paintings are displayed and priced to fit the Jackson market. "Watching someone come in and instantly have a connection to a painting or sculpture is fantastic," McKey says. "You can see the sentimental attachment form right away."

Fondren Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed Sunday and Monday.—Mike McDonald

Best Art Gallery Finalists: Brown's Fine Art (630 Fondren Place, 601-982-4844, brownsfineart.com) / Fischer Galleries (736 S. President St., 4th floor, 601-291-9115, fischergalleries.com) / Southern Breeze Gallery (500 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-607-4147, southern
breeze.net) / View Gallery (1491 Canton Mart Road, Suite 7, 601-487-6477)

Best Place to Buy Antiques: The Flea Market, Mississippi's Trade Place

1325 Flowood Drive, Flowood, 601-953-5914

The Flea Market, Mississippi's Trade Place has made the Best of Jackson list for the fifth time in a row, and with the vast selection the 60,000-square-foot market offers, it's not hard to see why. The market hosts vendors from all over the Jackson metro and beyond, selling everything from antique furniture, baseball cards, collectible coins, clocks, and radios to handmade birdhouses, jewelry, clothing and more.

"You can find anything for anybody's taste here, from kids to adults," owner David Murrell says. "We're the only flea market (in the state with this set-up), so this is the place to come any time for a great volume of vendors and items to choose from."—Dustin Cardon

Best Place to Buy Antiques Finalists: Antique Mall of the South (367 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-853-4000) / Interior Spaces (5060 Interstate 55 N., Suite B, 601-956-4199, interiorspacesms.com) / Old House Depot (639 Monroe St., 601-592-6200, oldhousedepot.com) / Repeat Street (242 Highway 51 N., Ridgeland, 601-605-9393, repeatstreet.net)

Best Annual Event: Mal's St. Paddy's Parade

March, malstpaddysparade.com

If you want to see a real celebration in the city, just attend Jackson's annual Mal's St. Paddy's Parade. People from all over the metro area and the state, maybe even the nation, get together to watch as parade floats, marching krewes and other groups go down city streets. Last year's theme was "Bringing Home the Grammyphone" and featured Grand Marshal Bobby Rush. Many of the floats honored Mississippi's deep music roots, and the parade also celebrated Mississippi Grammy Museum in Cleveland, Miss. This year's parade theme is "Hal-lelu-Y'all," which celebrates the late Hal White's legacy. The parade is also now called Hal's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival.—Amber Helsel

Best Annual Event Finalists: Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights (August, greaterbelhaven.com) / Jacktoberfest 
(October, jacktoberfest.com) / Mistletoe Marketplace/Mistletoe Marketplace Preview Gala (November, mistletoemarketplace.com) / Wellsfest (September, wellschurch.org) / Zoo Brew (April, jacksonzoo.org)

Best Local Bank or Credit Union: BankPlus

photo

Photo courtesy BankPlus

various locations, BankPlus.net

Jacksonians' choice for this year's Best Bank or Credit Union, BankPlus, has a long history of serving Mississippians. It was founded in 1909 as Citizens Bank & Trust Company in Belzoni, Miss. CB&T became BankPlus in September 1994, when it merged with Southeast Mississippi Bank in Quitman, Miss. Today, the company has about 60 offices in 34 Mississippi communities and more than $2.5 billion in total assets.

BankPlus can help most banking needs, including personal checking and savings, loans and equity lines, brokerage services, and online and mobile banking. The company also has resources for businesses such as business checking accounts, loans, cash management services and payroll solutions. Many of the branches also have 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. drive-thrus.—Dustin Cardon

Best Local Bank or Credit Union Finalists: Bancorp South (various locations, bancorpsouth.com) / Community Bank (multiple locations, communitybank.net) / Hope Credit Union (multiple locations, 
hopecu.org) / Trustmark (multiple locations, trustmark.com) / Magnolia Federal Credit Union (multiple locations, magfedcu.org)

Best Barber Shop: Fondren Barber Shop

2939 Old Canton Road, 601-826-0707

After noticing a resurgence in mainstream barbering culture, couple Eddie Outlaw and Justin McPherson decided to open Fondren Barber Shop in November 2013.

When Outlaw went to barbering school nearly two decades ago, he says that the barbing culture wasn't as popular as it is now. Besides, he and his husband believed men would prefer a shop tailored to them rather than the more female vibe at their popular William Wallace Salon a few doors away. Fondren Barber Shop combines traditional barber-shop services with more modern ones for men, including cuts and shaves, beard trims and even eyebrow waxing.

"I think that we're offering more of an upscale environment," Outlaw says. "It gives men permission to treat themselves. A lot of guys aren't comfortable in a salon environment, so they kind of like getting that extra special treatment in a place that's comfortable for them."—Adria Walker

Best Barber Shop Finalists: ACEY Custom Hair Design (3015 N. State St., 601-362-0326) / Custom Cuts and Styles (2445 Terry Road, 601-321-9292) / Maurice's Barber Shop (1220 E. Northside Drive, 601-362-2343) / Rock's Barber & Style (710 Magnolia St., 601-790-9216)

Best Annual Event: Mal's St. Paddy's Parade

photo

March, malstpaddysparade.com

If you want to see a real celebration in the city, just attend Jackson's annual Mal's St. Paddy's Parade. People from all over the metro area and the state, maybe even the nation, get together to watch as parade floats, marching krewes and other groups go down city streets. Last year's theme was "Bringing Home the Grammyphone" and featured Grand Marshal Bobby Rush. Many of the floats honored Mississippi's deep music roots, and the parade also celebrated Mississippi Grammy Museum in Cleveland, Miss. This year's parade theme is "Hal-lelu-Y'all," which celebrates the late Hal White's legacy. The parade is also now called Hal's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival.—Amber Helsel

Best Annual Event Finalists: Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights (August, greaterbelhaven.com) / Jacktoberfest 
(October, jacktoberfest.com) / Mistletoe Marketplace/Mistletoe Marketplace Preview Gala (November, mistletoemarketplace.com) / Wellsfest (September, wellschurch.org) / Zoo Brew (April, jacksonzoo.org)

Best Beauty Shop or Salon: Barnette's Salon

4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 201-601-362-9550; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8001, Ridgeland, 601-898-4646; barnettessalon.com

This year's winner for Best Beauty Shop or Salon, Barnette's Salon, has been putting smiles on people's faces and stylish cuts on their heads since it opened in December 1985.

Owner Ralph Barnette has been a stylist since 1975 and says he finds it even more enjoyable now. He and his talented team offer coloring and cutting services and keratin treatments at two locations, not including his latest addition, Barnette's Dry Bar, a blow-dry bar off Old Canton Road. The salon has been recognized several times in Elle Magazine's Top 100 Salons, most recently in 2014.

"We have good customers who are naturally beautiful," he says. "There are a lot of talented hair dressers in the state, and I'm glad to be a part of that."—LaShanda Phillips

Best Beauty Shop or Salon Finalists: Lacru Salon (5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 2000, Flowood, 601-992-7980) / Ritz Salon (574 Highway 51 N., Suite H, Ridgeland, 601-856-4330) / Smoak Salon (622 Duling Ave., Suite 206, 601-982-5313) / Studio J Salon (Sola Salon Studios, 151 East Metro Pkwy., Flowood, 601-212-9130) / William Wallace Salon (2939 Old Canton Road, 601-982-8300)

Best Boutique: Material Girls

photo

Trip Burns/File Photo

734 McKenzie Lane, 601-992-4533, Flowood; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 7005, 601-605-1605; shopmaterialgirls.com

Part of what makes Material Girls to trendy is the research the team puts into the latest trends. Owner Whitney Giordano Foster and staff, including Jennifer Gray Walker, a manager at the company's headquarters, work diligently to select new merchandise.

The boutique has four locations in Flowood, Ridgeland, Oxford and Hattiesburg, in addition to its online store. It specializes in women's clothes and accessories from vendors primarily based in Los Angeles, though much of the jewelry comes from Mississippi makers.

The decade-old chain serves women of all ages, and while the stylists follow national trends, they also keep the "Material Girls" look, too, which includes bright colors, fun, fringe and tassels.—Arielle Dreher

Best Boutique Finalists: Blithe & Vine (2943 Old Canton Road, Suite E, 601-426-3322, blitheandvine.com) / Libby Story (1000 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 5003, Ridgeland, 601-717-3300, libbystory.com) / MiGi's Boutique (144 Market St., Flowood, 601-919-8203) / Treehouse Boutique (3000 N. State St., 601-982-3433)

Best Caterer: Fresh Cut Catering & Floral/Wendy Putt

108 Cypress Cove, Flowood, 601-939-4518, freshcutcateringandfloral.com

Wendy Putt, owner of Fresh Cut Catering & Floral, which Jacksonians chose as 2016's Best Caterer, says the secret to her success since she first opened her business in 1990 really isn't a secret at all.

"Care about one customer at a time and make sure everything you do reflects that customer's personality—it's really as simple as that," Putt says. "Not to mention, our staff are like best friends and family. We're probably together more than we are with our own families."

Fresh Cut offers event styling, full-service catering, floral arrangements, specialty linens and a wide variety of plateware and serving pieces, all in service of making each client's event successful.—Dustin Cardon

Best Caterer Finalists: Babalu Tacos & Tapas (622 Duling Ave., 601-366-5757, babalutacos.com) / Cosmopolitan Catering by Macy (2947 Old Canton Road, 601-720-3989) / 
Mangia Bene Catering/Aven Whittington (Broad Street Baking Company, 4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 769-230-8219, mangiabenems.com)

Best Local Dealer for a New or Used Car: Herrin-Gear Automotive Group

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Photo courtesy Herrin-Gear

multiple locations, herringear.com

For Best of Jackson voters, Herrin-Gear Automotive Group's massive inventory was the key to winning the title of this year's Best Local Dealer for a New or Used Car. Herrin-Gear's website says it is the "metro area's only locally owned and operated franchise (that) continues to operate under the ownership and management" of the family that founded the business. The company has operated in Jackson for almost half a century.

With nearly every variety of new and used vehicles available from manufacturers such as BMW, Chevrolet, Lexus, Infiniti, Toyota, and Scion, Herrin-Gear is a local go-to for many people looking for a car in the capital city.—Zachary Oren Smith

Best Local Dealer for a New or Used Car Finalists: Bob Boyte Honda (2188 Highway 18, Brandon, 877-722-6983, 
bobboytehonda.com) / Mazda of Ridgeland (1860 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland, 601-896-9800, rmazda.com) / Patty Peck Honda (555 Sunnybrook Road, Ridgeland, 601-957-3400, pattypeckhonda.com) / Paul Moak Honda/Subaru/Volvo (Honda, 802 Harding St.; Subaru/Volvo, 740 Larson St.; paulmoak.com)

Best Category We Left Off: Teacher

Left off the list but not out of our hearts is the category for the best of the noble folks that Jackson parents trust with their kids in loco parentis all year long: teachers.

Teachers are crucial players in the task of helping develop young people into well-rounded and, hopefully, well-educated individuals. How much they get paid to do it, however, is in the hands of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and the Mississippi Legislature, from whom we can probably expect interesting legislative changes this year regarding financing Mississippi education in the aftermath of the failure of Initiative 42 to require full funding of MAEP. Whatever the Legislature decides, we do know that the role of education is priceless, and though the category isn't present, our appreciation for those who make it possible is.—Sierra Mannie

Best Category We Left Off Finalists: Makeup Artist / Realtor / Producer / Crawfish

Best Place to Get Your Car Fixed: Capitol Body Shop

Multiple locations

No matter how old your car is, it almost always needs some kind of repair, whether it's something as simple as an oil change or as complicated as fixing a leak under the engine. Best of Jackson winner Capitol Body Shop can help you with your repair needs.

The business, which Chad White and now his son, Doug White, have owned and operated since 1963, has grown into a top auto-repair shop on both the state and national level. The Whites pride their business on their core values of honesty, integrity, quality work and customer service.

Capitol Body Shop has locations in Jackson, Byram, Flowood and Ridgeland, all offering collision and mechanical services on all makes and models of vehicles and a written warranty on all repairs. The shops also offer a complimentary shuttle service for customers. —Dustin Cardon

Best Place to Get Your Car Fixed Finalists: Car Care Clinic (multiple locations, carcareclinicjetlube.com) / Freeman's Auto Repair (847 S. State St., 601-948-3358) / Graves and Stoddard Inc. (722 Highway 80 E., Flowood, 601-939-3662) / Tony's Tire & Automotive (5138 N. State St., 601-981-2414)

Best Reason to Live in Jackson: Fondren

fondren.org

Ask anyone to make a list of great things about our hip hometown, and Fondren is sure to show up. It's no surprise that locals also voted the art and business district as this year's Best Reason to Live in Jackson. The area—previously called Asylum Heights and Jackson's first suburb—features some of the city's best locally owned bars, boutiques, businesses, restaurants, and coffee shops, many of which also won 2016 Best of Jackson awards. You can make a new friend at Fondren Public, grab a bite at Babalu Tacos & Tapas, dance to whatever dynamite band is playing Duling Hall, and if you don't want the night to end, grab a coffee at Cups Espresso Cafe, all without stepping foot out of Fondren. It isn't the only perk of Jackson life, but it sure is a plus.—Micah Smith

Best Reason to Live in Jackson Finalists: Community / Culture / Food / The People

Best Day Spa: AQUA The Day Spa

photo

Trip Burns/File Photo

1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8001, Ridgeland, 601-898-9123, aquathedayspa.com

Self-care is healthy to practice, and what better way to do that than to spend some time at the spa?

AQUA the Day Spa has won the "Best Day Spa" category in Best of Jackson for more than 10 years running. The entire establishment exudes relaxation, from its neutral color palette to the many products it sells in its lobby store, including aromatics and nail polish.

Open Mondays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., AQUA offers a variety of services, including facial treatments such as hydra facials and men's facials, massage therapy, body treatments, such as hydration wraps, hand and foot treatments, waxing and hair removal, and even eyelash extensions.—Amber Helsel

Best Day Spa Finalists: Drench Day Spa (118 W. Jackson St., Suite 2-B, Ridgeland, 601-707-5656, drenchdayspa.com) / Sanctuary Body Spa of St. Dominic's (340 Township Ave., Suite 200, Ridgeland, 601-790-2222) / The Skin District (2629 Courthouse Circle, Suite B, Flowood, 601-981-7546, theskindistrict.com)

Best Dance Studio: Ballet Mississippi

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201 E. Pascagoula St., Suite 106, 601-960-1560, balletms.com

After securing a spot as a finalist in Best of Jackson for several years in the past, Ballet Mississippi has claimed the title of the city's Best Dance Studio for 2016. Since 1964, Ballet Mississippi has offered training in the art form of ballet, establishing itself as Jackson's first ballet company. With one location downtown and another in Madison, Ballet Mississippi offers daily classes in ballet for a variety of ages and skill levels, from tiny tots to experienced adults.

Ballet Mississippi holds performances throughout the year, occasionally collaborating with the Mississippi Opera for productions such as "Carmen." Ballet Mississippi also has two major performances yearly—"The Nutcracker" and its Spring Gala Performance. This year's Spring Gala, "Let the Music Dance," which takes place Feb. 6 at Duling Hall, features Mississippi-born singer-songwriter Claire Holley.—Maya Miller

Best Dance Studio Finalists: Lindsey Claire Dance Company (4149 S. Siwell Road, 601-398-3786, lcdanceco.com) / Salsa Mississippi (605 Duling Ave., 601-213-6355, 
salsamississippi.com) / The Dollhouse Dance Factory (1410 Ellis Ave., 601-969-4000, dollhousedancefactory.com) / Xpress Dance Company (2160 Main St., Suite D, Madison, 601-853-0826; 155 W. Government St., 601-954-6268; xdance.net)

Best Place for Unique Gifts: Apple Annie's Gift Shop

photo

Photo courtesy Apple Annie's

1896 Main Street, Suite D, Madison, 601-853-8911; 152 Grants Ferry Road, Brandon, 601-992-9925; shopappleannies.com

Etta B pottery and raincoats and tumblers, oh my! Customers can find all that and more at Apple Annie's Gift Shop, this year's winner for Best Place for Unique Gifts." Shoppers can browse a selection that is both distinctive and trendy in search of fun gifts for family and friends.

Apple Annie's Gift Shop, which has locations in Madison and Brandon, also sells clothing, accessories and other products in keeping with current southern style, from Lily Pulitzer planners to Ginger Snaps jewelry. And for those who want to introduce a friend to an interesting new meal or snack, Apple Annie's also sells edible items, such as artichoke parmesan dip mix, bacon cheddar dip mix, chocolate cheesecake cheeseball mix and parmesan peppercorn dip mix.—Adria Walker

Best Place for Unique Gifts Finalists: Bliss Gift and Home (4465 Interstate 55 N., 601-326-3337, blissgiftandhome.com) / O! How Cute Gift Market (304 E. Government St., Brandon, 601-825-5080; 200 Riverwind Drive, Pearl, 601-939-5082; 200 Bass Pro Drive, Pearl, Suite 407, 769-208-8644) / The Museum Store at the Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515, msmuseumart.org) / The Pine Cone (5056 Interstate 55 N., 
601-713-1421)

Best Flower Shop: Greenbrook Flowers Inc.

705 N. State St., 601-957-1951, greenbrookflowers.com

Greenbrook Flowers has served Jackson with a smile since first opening in 1917, a policy that continued after the store passed to its fifth-generation owner, Janet Jacobs, in 2008. The shop, which is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., offers same-day delivery of fresh flowers that can be ordered 24 hours a day via telephone or fax.

In 1994, former owner Brook Jacobs Sr. also began Good Neighbor Day, which is now nationally celebrated in September, to promote friendship. Greenbrook gives out dozens of flowers with only one stipulation: People may keep only one of the roses and must give the other 11 away. As Greenbrook has won Best Florist in Jackson for the last nine years, its customers and community certainly seem to share the shop's giving mood.—Adria Walker

Best Flower Shop Finalists: A Daisy a Day (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 194, 601-982-4438) / Drake's Designs, Florists & Gifts Inc. (1491 Canton Mart Road, Suite 8, 601-957-6983) / Green Oak Florist (5009 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5017; 1067 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite E, Ridgeland, 601-707-9440; greenoakflorist.com) / Whitley's Flowers (740 Lakeland Drive, 601-362-8844, whitleysflowers.com)

Best Liquor/Wine Store: Kats Wine & Spirits

photo

Kathleen Morrison Mitchel/File Photo

921 E. Fortification St., 601-983-5287, katswine.com

For anyone who thinks globalization doesn't affect Jackson, just take a trip to Kats Wine & Spirits.

Tasho Katsaboulas, who co-owns the store with his brother, Kanello, explains that because countries such as Chile and Argentina are increasingly modernizing their economies, it’s gotten easier for people on smaller budgets to enjoy a wider range of fantastic wines from those regions.

In fact, special-order wines have become Kats' major focus. The business' staff scours wine-industry publications for good wine at low prices, which Kats tallies on its website so customers can find high-scoring wines, often for less than $20.

Along with varietals from South America and Spain, parts of the U.S., such as California's Sonoma Coast—the lesser-known relative of Napa Valley—are also experiencing a renaissance.

Katsaboulas said more good wine doesn't mean people are consuming more; they're not.

"They're enjoying much better wines for the same money," he says.

Additionally, because young professionals are experimenting more and increasingly becoming hobbyists, when it comes to good wine in Jackson, Katsaboulas said: "The future is bright."

Best Liquor/Wine Store Finalists: Briarwood Wine and Spirits (4949 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5108, briarwoodwineandspirits.com) / Corkscrew Fine Wine and Spirits (4800 Interstate 55 N., Suite 32B, 601-981-1333) / Fondren Cellars (633 Duling Ave., 769-216-2323) / McDade's Wine and Spirits (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 320, 601-366-5676, mcdadeswineandspirits.com) / Wine and Sprits in the Quarter (1855 Lakeland Drive, 601-366-6644, drinkinman.com)

Best Place to Buy Kids' Clothes/Toys: 
Leap Frog Children's Consignment & More

104 Village Blvd., Madison, 601-898-0727, leapfrogmadison.com

When Mary Anna Chaney moved to Madison from Yazoo City in 1999, she noticed the area didn't have a local children's consignment store. She realized it was a vacancy she could fill, and a couple of years after moving to the area, she opened her store, Leap Frog Children's Consignment & More, which Jacksonians selected as this year's Best Place to Buy Kid's Clothes/Toys. Chaney says her goal for the store, which sells new and consigned clothing and toys for infants to tweens, has always been the same.

"When I opened the store, it was to never look like a consignment," Chaney says. "I've always wanted it to look like a new boutique, and we have people who walk through the door and say, 'I thought these were (supposed to be) consignment clothes.' So I've met my goal."—Micah Smith

Best Place to Buy Kids' Clothes/Toys Finalists: Bows & Arrows (182 Promenade Blvd., 601-992-9966) / Helen's Young Ages (4750 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-0317) / Nursery Rhymes (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 152, 601-368-9997) / Olde Tyme Commissary (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 9011, 601-366-1849) Sweet Dreams Children's Boutique (1888 Main St., Suite A, Madison, 601-856-2080)

Best Kids' Event: Boo at the Zoo

October, jacksonzoo.org

During the middle of fall in Mississippi, which feels more like a less humid summer, the Jackson Zoo opens its gates for the annual Boo at the Zoo, which Jacksonians selected as this year's Best Kids' Event. At the zoo-wide Halloween party, children can dress up as their favorite character or animals and have fun while avoiding the holiday hazards that come with trick-or-treating. With bounce houses and hayrides, the event is a unique way for the Jackson Zoo to educate kids and their families on endangered animals and conservation efforts while also providing a safe activity for all, Marketing and Communications Manager Angela Harris says.

"When the kids are at the zoo, they're learning and giving back to conservation and nature, but they're also having fun," she says. —Maya Miller

Best Kids' Event Finalists: KidFest (April, kidfestridgeland.com) / Sal & Mookie's Annual Street Carnival (April, zddparade.com) / Touch A Truck (April, touchatruckjackson.com) / Wellsfest (September, wellschurch.org)

Best Place to Buy Comics: Van's Comics & Cards

398 Highway 51, Suite 202, Ridgeland, 601-898-9950, vanscomicsandcards.com

Whether you're reading up on the latest superhero showdown, browsing for a unique board game or trying your hand at comics, card games, manga, or model building for the first time, Van Peeples, owner of Van's Comics and Cards, can point you in the right direction.

Peeples first opened his store in 1996, not far from his current space, where he relocated in October 2011. Besides the store's expansive selection and game space, which hosts tournaments for games such as "Magic: The Gathering" and "Yu-Gi-Oh," one of the biggest draws is its constant discounts—20 percent off all new comics, trade paperbacks, games and back issues for subscribers.

"I just want to give my customers a better deal," Peeples says.

That mindset, he says, is one of the factors that's kept Van's open for 19 years. —Micah Smith

Best Place to Buy Comics Finalists: Comic Commander (579 Highway 51, Suite D, Ridgeland, 601-856-1789) / Offbeat (151 Wesley Ave., offbeatjxn.com)

Best Music Festival: Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival

photo

Photo courtesy Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival

August, jacksonrhythmandbluesfestival.com

If you've ever attended the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival or Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, then you've probably discovered the biggest problem with both: They are more than two hours away.

The Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival, which won a second title as the city's Best Music Festival, solves that problem in style. Held every year in the many buildings located on the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum grounds, the massive music festival ensures that any place you are, there will be a party happening with great music from a variety of genres. 2015 saw the likes of Chaka Khan and The Isley Brothers mixing it up with regional favorites such as Bobby Rush and Scott Albert Johnson. —Tommy Burton

Best Music Festival Finalists: 3rd Eye Music Festival (November) / International Gumbo Festival 
(September, jacksongumbo.com) / Jacktoberfest (October, jacktoberfest.com) / 
State Street Concert Series / Wellsfest (September, wellschurch.org)

Best Place to Buy Books: Lemuria Books

photo

Trip Burns/File Photo

4465 Interstate 55 N. Suite 202; 601-366-7619; lemuriabooks.com

If you've walked into the wall-to-wall literary wonderland that is Lemuria Books, you can probably understand why Jacksonians select it as the Best Place to Buy Books year after year. John Evans, who opened the business in 1975, keeps Lemuria stocked with a bevy of books by Mississippi authors, best-sellers, classics and hidden gems.

"I've always been dedicated to giving the best bookstore and best inventory to my community," Evans says.

Lemuria is also one of the few local venues that regularly hosts book-signing events. Evans says bringing authors such as Ernest Cline, Richard Ford and Katy Simpson Smith face to face with fans is one of the most important things he can do for the bookworms of Jackson. —Micah Smith

Best Place to Buy Books Finalists: The Book Rack (1491 Canton Mart Square, Suite 6, 601-956-5086; 584 Springridge Road, Suite C, Clinton, 601-924-9020; bookrackjackson.com) / N.U.T.S. (114 Millsaps Ave., 601-355-7458) / The Book Shelf (637 Highway 51, Suite AA, Ridgeland, 601-853-9225)

Best Place to Get Married: The South Warehouse

photo

Photo courtesy The South Warehouse

627 E. Silas Brown St., 601-939-4518

At The South Warehouse, which Jacksonians voted Best Place to Get Married for a second year in a row, owner Wendy Putt and her team ensure that couples have a unique, memorable day. The former warehouse is roughly 19,000 square feet, which can be left open to accommodate a big crowd or broken up by curtains into smaller, intimate spaces. It also is easily divided into separate ceremony and 
reception spaces.

Putt, who owns Fresh Cut Catering & Floral in addition to The South and The Railroad District, is "hands-on" in all aspects, from menu planning to flower arrangements.

Catering Manager Jeanette O'Reilly says the building has a lot of character, and furniture stored on-site can lend a "homey, funky vibe," juxtaposed with elegant chandeliers against its industrial brick.—Julie Skipper

Best Place to Get Married Finalists: Fairview Inn (734 Fairview St., 601-948-3429, fairviewinn.com) / 
Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515, msmuseumart.org) / The Cedars (4145 Old Canton Road, 601-366-5552) / The Cotton Market (2644 S. Pearson Road, Richland, 601-906-5499) / The IVY Venue (1170 Luckney Road, Flowood, 601-906-5499, theivyvenueflowood.com)

Best Place to Work: 
University of Mississippi Medical Center

2500 N. State St., 601-984-1000, umc.edu

The University of Mississippi Medical Center has a claim to many distinctions, including being the only organ transplant center and poison-control center in the state, hosting the state's only children's hospital and being one of the largest employers in the state, with more than 10,000 employees on its payroll. It's little wonder, then, that Jacksonians named it the Best Place to Work this year.

"Not a single day goes by that we don't touch or support the health and life of another Mississippian, whether it's a family or a stranger we've never seen before," Michael Estes, UMMC's chief human resources officer, says. "What makes us such a good organization to work for is that our staff is so committed to and aligned around doing the best we can do for the folks we serve. Advancing the important work done here to improve Mississippi health is the most fulfilling part about being here."—Dustin Cardon

Best Place to Work Finalists: Mangia Bene (3317 N. State St., 601-982-4443) / Mississippi Children's Museum (2145 Museum Blvd., 601-981-5469, mississippichildrensmuseum.com) / Soulshine Pizza Factory (1111 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 1, Ridgeland, 601-856-8646, 5352 Highway 25, Suite 1100, Flowood, 601-919-2000) / St. Dominic Hospital (969 Lakeland Drive, 601-200-2000, stdom.com)

Best Tattoo/Piercing Parlor: Electric Dagger Tattoo

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2906 N. State St., Suite B-6, 601-982-9437

Jason Thomas opened Electric Dagger in Fondren in October 2013, and Jacksonians have already named it the city's Best Tattoo/Piercing Parlor for two consecutive years.

Thomas, 38, always loved to draw and says tattooing was the first medium he ever cared about. In 1998, he got his first job in the industry at a now-closed shop in Richland, Miss., called Dermagraphics with owner Russell Parish.

"Tattooing chose me," Thomas says. "I always felt like tattoos were a spiritual thing."

Three other ink-slingers—Mallory Palmertree, Mike Richardson and Ert DiRosa—round out the Electric Dagger team, which Thomas says always strives to be the best in the city.—Imani Khayyam

Best Tattoo/Piercing Parlor Finalists: House of Pain Custom Tattoos (22 Holiday Rambler Lane, Suite 300, Byram, 601-321-9040) / Ritual Customs (1016 Hampstead Blvd., Clinton, 601-925-0205, ritualcustomtattoos.com) / Squench's Tattoos, Ltd. (3780 Interstate 55 S., 601-372-2800, squenchstattoos.com) / True Addiction Tattoo Studio (317 S. Main St., Yazoo City, 601-454-0469) / Twiztid Images (557 Highway 49 S., Richland, 601-664-0000, twiztidimagestattoo.com)

Best Thrift/Consignment Shop: Repeat Street

242 Highway 51 N., Ridgeland, 601-605-9393, repeatstreet.net

Michele Austin needed a creative outlet after working in a veterinary clinic for 10 years. So, in October 2006, she opened Repeat Street, which has won Best Thrift/Consignment Shop every year since 2012.

"I grew up doing this," she says, "My mother and my grandmother were always into resale, and it was just time ... to do something for me that I enjoyed."

Austin began by announcing the opening of her consignment shop to friends, and the operation snowballed from there. From the original one-woman, 700-square-foot shop to the 17,000-square-foot space in which Repeat Street is currently housed, the community has been one of the store's top focuses.

"We became involved with the community early, and I think people appreciate that," Austin says. "We try to give back."—Adria Walker

Best Thrift/Consignment Shop Finalists: Leap Frog Children's Consignment & More (104 Village Blvd., Madison, 601-898-0727, leapfrogmadison.com) / N.U.T.S. (114 Millsaps Ave., 601-355-7458) / Private Collection (101 Village Blvd., Suite B, Madison, 601-607-6004) / The Orange Peel (422 Mitchell Ave., 601-364-9977)

Best Fitness Center/Gym: Baptist Healthplex

717 Manship St., 601-968-1766, mbhs.org; Baptist Healthplex at Mississippi College, 102 Clinton Parkway, Clinton, 601-925-7900, healthplexclinton.com; Madison Healthplex Performance Center, 501 Baptist Drive, Suite 100, Madison, 601-856-7757, healthplexperformance.com; mbhs.org

If a membership-included pool, indoor walking track and fitness courses are on your list of gym must-haves, this year's Best Fitness Center/Gym, Baptist Healthplex, might be for you. The gym has three locations in Jackson, Madison and Clinton, and for anyone who works downtown, the Jackson location is in a great place to stop for a workout before or after work.

David Carpenter, who is the director there, says his gym mainly serves an adult population. Although personal training does come with an extra fee, Carpenter says it's one of the most popular features. The Healthplex in Jackson offers 25 to 30 group classes weekly and 20 to 25 water exercise classes. Popular classes include high-intensity training courses and boot-camp-style workout classes. The Clinton location has amenities such as a lap pool, basketball court, an indoor walking track and a training area. Madison features an after-hours fitness area and a physical-therapy clinic. Those two locations have group classes as well.—Arielle Dreher

Best Fitness Center/Gym Finalists: Courthouse Racquet & Fitness (Multiple Locations, mscourthouse.com) / The Club at St. Dominic's (970 Lakeland Drive, 601-200-4925, theclubms.com) / Metro Jackson YMCA (multiple locations, metroymcams.org) / Focus Fit (5709 Highway 80 E., 601-591-7487)

Best Veterinarian/Veterinary Clinic: Briarwood Animal Clinic

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Photo courtesy Briarwood Animal Clinic

1471 Canton Mart Road, 601-956-5030

For many pet owners, animals are part of the family, which is why this year's Best Veterinarian/Veterinary Clinic, Briarwood Animal Hospital, makes pets its top priority. Since 1961, the clinic has served the furry friends of Jackson, offering care in small-animal medicine, surgery, radiology and other areas. Briarwood even expanded its reach with a second location, Millcreek Animal Clinic in Brandon, Miss., in 1985.

Briarwood Pet Shop & Kennels, which is next to the hospital, has a kennel for boarding both cats and dogs, as well as full-service grooming for those looking to give their pets a little pampering. It has pet supplies, food, and treats, as well as kittens and puppies for sale. All pets for sale are vaccinated and receive a full check-up before customers buy them.—Maya Miller

Best Veterinarian/Veterinary Clinic Finalists: All Creatures Animal Care Center (262 New Mannsdale Road, Madison, 601-856-5333, allcreaturesanimalcarecenter.com) / Hometown Veterinary Clinic (1010 Highway 471, Brandon, 601-825-1697) / North State Animal and Bird Hospital (5208 N. State St., 601-982-8261, northstateanimalhospital.com) / Oakdale Animal Hospital (2028 Highway 471, Brandon, 601-724-7450, oakdale-vet.com)

Best Yoga Studio: Butterfly Yoga

3025 N. State St., 601-594-2313, butterflyyoga.net

Butterfly Yoga has been part of the Jackson area since local yogi Scotta Brady founded it in 2002. The business moved to its current location in Fondren in 2004 and has won the Best Yoga Studio in Best of Jackson for many years running.

The studio's website says Butterfly is grounded in the yoga principles of alignment, heart-opening encouragement, and the freedom of discovery and self-expression necessary for yoga practice. The studio has classes for people of all ages and abilities with an interest in yoga, from beginners to longtime practitioners. It even has belly dancing on Sundays. Butterfly also offers its own yoga teacher-certification program for those who want to share their knowledge. Prices range from $15 for a single class to $800 for 12 months of unlimited sessions.—Amber Helsel

Best Yoga Studio Finalists: Joyflow Yoga (7048 Old Canton Road, Suite 2F, Ridgeland, 601-613-4317, joyflowyoga.com) / M Theory Yoga (118 W. Jackson St., Suite C, Ridgeland, 601-790-7402, mtheoryyoga.com) / StudiOm Yoga 
(665 Duling Ave., 601-209-6325, studiomyogaofms.com) / Tara Yoga (200 Park Circle, Suite 4, Flowood, 601-720-2337, tara-yoga.net)

Best Locally Owned Business; Best Men's Clothing Store: Buffalo Peak Outfitters

4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-366-2557, buffalopeak.net

When owner Bobby McCain opened Buffalo Peak Outfitters, this year's Best Locally Owned Business and Best Men's Clothing Store, about 29 years ago, it catered mostly to Mississippi's adventurous set. Customers gearing up for going outdoors can still find those products, such as YETI coolers and The North Face outerwear, but the store has also gained new customers with its lifestyle clothing options from companies such as Southern Marsh and Southern Shirt Company.

Each member of the McCain family works at Buffalo Peak, including son Cody McCain, the store's marketing director. Cody's hobby—photography—has become a part of the business' branding; he takes everything from product shots to nature scenes for social media. For him, the Best of Jackson wins show that Buffalo Peak's customers appreciate the work they put into serving the community.

"We have a history of treating people well in our store and try to make every person's experience in the store an awesome one," Cody McCain says. "... That, and just having (products) that people here really love having, buying and wearing definitely contributes." —Micah Smith

Best Locally Owned Business Finalists

Bliss Gift and Home (4465 Interstate 55 N., 601-326-3337, blissgiftandhome.com) / Deep South Pops (1800 N. State St., 601-398-2174, deepsouthpops.com) / Mangia Bene (3317 N. State St., 601-982-4443) / Offbeat (151 Wesley Ave., offbeatjxn.com) / Studio Chane/Swello-Phonic (Swell-o-Phonic, 2906 N. State St., Suite 103, 601-366-9955; Studio Chane Screenprinting, 3206 N. State St., 601-362-3547; chane.com)

Best Men's Clothing Store Finalists

Great Scott (4400 Old Canton Road, Suite 100, 601-984-3500, greatscott.net) / Kinkade's Fine Clothing (120 W. Jackson St., Ridgeland, 601-898-0513, kinkadesfc.com) / Red Square Clothing Company (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 103A, 601- 398-3403; 1000 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 9004, 601-853-8960; redsquareclothingco.com) / The Rogue (4450 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-6383, therogue.com)

Best Museum; Best Tourist Attraction: Mississippi Children's Museum

2145 Museum Blvd., 601-981-5469, mississippichildrensmuseum.com

Over the hill on Museum Boulevard sits one of Jackson's most creative spaces for kids and kids at heart, the Mississippi Children's Museum. It offers a different approach to hands-on learning, including underground tunnels with a bubbling volcano and the Literary Garden with interactive mushrooms that promote reading. Director of External Affairs Maurine Jackson says the main goal of the museum is to create a safe space where children can play while they learn.

"One of the wonderful things about children's museums is that they are places where children get to be children," she says. "Children learn so much in early childhood especially, so having an informal learning environment like a children's museum gives children an opportunity to learn about all kinds of things in the time that makes a huge amount of difference developmentally."

This May, the museum will phase in a new exhibit called "Thomas and Friends: Explore the Rails," based off the popular children's character, Thomas the Tank Engine.—Maya Miller

Best Museum Finalists

Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum (1150 Lakeland Drive, 601-432-4500) / Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515) / Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (2148 Riverside Dr., 601-576-6000) / Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center (528 Bloom St., 601-960-1457)

Best Tourist Attraction Finalists

Fondren (fondren.org) / Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960- 1515, msmuseumart.org) / Old Capitol Museum (100 N. State St., 601-576-6920, mdah.state.ms.us) / The Jackson Zoo (2918 W. Capitol St., 601-352-2580)

Best Animal Shelter: Community Animal Rescue & Adoption

960 N. Flag Chapel Road, 601-922-7575, carams.org

Almost nothing in this world is better than having a furry friend, and almost nothing is better than adopting one, as opposed to buying one.

Community Animal Rescue & Adoption, also known as CARA, is one of the area's local no-kill shelters. It houses an average of 300 dogs and 120 cats. If you're out and about on the weekends, you may encounter the adoption events the organization does with businesses such as Hollywood Feed and PetSmart in Flowood and Madison, PetCo in Madison, and PetSense in Brandon. For those who aren't able to adopt a pet but still want to have a dog friend, CARA has an adopt-a-leash program. It also has a dog park at its location on Flag Chapel Road.—Amber Helsel

Finalists Animal Rescue Fund of Mississippi (395 W. Mayes St., 769-216-3414) / Cheshire Abbey (cheshireabbey@gmail.com) / The Madison Animal Rescue Kennel (madisonark.org) / Mississippi Animal Rescue League (5221 Greenway Drive Ext., 601-969-1631, msarl.org) / Webster Animal Shelter (525 Post Oak Road, Madison, 601-605-4729)

Best Place for Alterations: Finishing Touch Alterations

4551 Office Park Drive, 601-362-5288

The customers of Kaye Lee, who owns Finishing Touch Alterations, often say, "The best place to shop is shopping your closet." She has provided her alteration services to the Jackson area for 33 years. Lee's motto for her company is "responsibility, keep the promise (and) keep the quality."

Lee credits God for the opportunity to make her business successful and believes she is using her talents to benefit her customers. From Target to Saks Fifth Avenue, Lee can transform any clothing. "I find the best fitting for each individual," Lee says. Her favorite part of what she does is redesigning something someone already owns into something new. —Emerald Alexis Ware

Finalists Golden Touch Alterations (5355 Executive Place, 601-362-6790) / Perfect Fit Alterations (538 Mitchell Ave., 601-362-7829; 1431 Canton Mart Road, Suite 20, 601-991-0673; 1431 Canton Mart Road, 601-991-3050) / Sew Simple (600 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-856-3581) / Tailored To You (175 Grandview Blvd., Madison, 601-992-1373)

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