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Buying a business can be scary, but if Jill Stichbury needed any proof she'd made the right decision, it came from the trophy load last night.
Her business, Country Lane Originals, was named best overall business at the 2004 ASB Bank Mainstreet Best Business Awards. It also won the best small business award.
Mrs Stichbury bought the gift shop only a few weeks ago. Receiving the award in front of about 220 people at the Wanganui Function Centre, she said the award was also for previous owner Jane O'Connell and staff member Gill Small, who's been with the shop since it opened.
"It's so easy when you enjoy what you are doing," Mrs Stichbury said. "When you have passion, you love serving customers."
Mrs Small agreed: "It's easy when you've got fabulous customers."
Central City Pharmacy won the outstanding customer service award.
More than 3000 entries were received from the public, giving examples of great service.
For her letter about the pharmacy, Gwendolyn McKeown won $500 of Mainstreet shopping vouchers.
She wrote that she'd received medication and advice for her elderly mother who had a nasty bug while in Wanganui on holiday. A few weeks later her daughter was back in the pharmacy when staff inquired about her mother's health.
"Genuine concern was clearly expressed. It was a pleasure to pass this on to my mother."
Sidewalk Cafe again won the best cafe award.
The team made last year's event memorable with their ecstatic cheering when Sidewalk's name was announced. Topping that off last night, owner Sharon Kirk ran to the stage to receive her award.
Stellar Restaurant and Bar, which has been among the awards since it opened, won the entertainment and hospitality award. Receiving the award was a particularly poignant moment for new manager Margaret Sugden.
"I lost my mother this week, so this is going to be really special."
Deanna Randell of Studio 86 was named service person of the year.
The judge who visited the gallery said she was impressed by Ms Randell's treatment of an elderly customer and the service she herself received. "It was like I had instantly made a new friend," the judge said.
"The whole experience made me want to go back again, and I was that impressed I actually made a purchase, which was not on the agenda."
Two judges assessed the 58 Mainstreet members and associate members who entered the awards on customer service, product knowledge and range, merchandising, telephone technique, presentation, window displays and hours of business.
The full list of winners is:
Enterprise Wanganui best associate business award: Rivercity Insurance Brokers. Runners-up: Te Waipuna Health Centre, Vega.
Crombie Lockwood Insurance Brokers best cafe, coffee lounge or takeaway award: Sidewalk Cafe. Runner-up: Jabies Doner Kebab.
AMI Insurance best restaurant and bar award: Beijing Restaurant. Runner-up: Victoria's Restaurant.
Pete's Post entertainment and hospitality award: Stellar Restaurant and Bar. Runner-up: Ceramic.
H and A Print personal health and beauty award: Central City Pharmacy. Runner-up: Hair By Halo.
Harrison's Hire Master professional service sector: Air New Zealand Travel Centre. Runner-up: State Insurance.
Chamber of Commerce best new business: Flower Room. Runners-up: Virtue Jewellery, Annah S.
Wanganui Gas best large business: Bryce Esquilant Unichem Pharmacy. Runner-up: Whitcoulls.
Rivercity Insurance Brokers best medium business: Stirling Sports. Runner-up: Ballentynes.
Stephen Lace Chartered Accountants best small business: Country Lane Originals. Runner-up: Studio 86.
Bridge Associates outstanding customer service award: Central City Pharmacy. Runners-up: Woolmart Wools, Hair By Halo.
2004 best overall business: Country Lane Originals.
2004 service person of the year: Deanna Randell, Studio 86.