Best Day Spa, Best Nail Salon: AQUA the Day Spa
(1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8001, Ridgeland; 601-898-9123, aquathedayspa.com)
Those looking for a full day's pampering need look no further than AQUA the Day Spa at the Renaissance shopping center in Ridgeland. "We offer the full experience," owner Susan Barnette says. "From the time (customers) enter to the time they leave, we make sure that they have a good experience and that we fulfill their expectations while they're there."
For AQUA, the "full experience" includes facials, massages, manicures and pedicures, body treatments, waxing and lash extensions, but Barnette believes that much of the relaxation occurs between services, noting that the day spa offers "relaxation rooms" complete with beverages and snacks in order to help clients maintain their trouble-free mindset throughout the day.
The staff, too, is pivotal to their clients' relaxation. "We have a lot of experience," Barnette says of AQUA's 24 years in the Jackson business scene. "We have great therapists who are well-trained."
A number of these well-trained employees are nail technicians, who offer a full range of treatments to care for customers' hands and feet. "Sport" manicures and pedicures are aimed at the spa's male clients, while anyone looking to enhance their standard nail-care can add hot stone or paraffin applications to their choice of French or shellac polishes. —Taylor McKay Hathorn
Best Day Spa Finalists
Body Anew (1040 Gluckstadt Road, Suite B, Madison; 601-605-0452; bodyanewmedicalspa.com) / Drench Day Spa and Lash Lounge (118 W. Jackson St., Ridgeland, 601-707-5656, drenchdayspa.com) / NomiSpa at Fairview Inn (734 Fairview St., 601-948-3429, fairviewinn.com/spa) / Soul Synergy Center (5490 Castlewoods Court D, Flowood, 601-992-7721, soulsynergycenter.com)
Best Nail Salon Finalists
Bellagio Nails & Salon (385 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-397-6937, bellagionailsalon.com) / Fondren Nails (2906 N. State St., 601-316-9264, facebook.com/FondrenNails) / Organic Nail & Lash Bar (179 Grandview Blvd., Suite 970, Madison; 601-898-1339; facebook.com/Organic-Nail-Lash-Bar) / The Nail Lounge (4500 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, Suite 103B, 601-398-4451, facebook.com/The-Nail-Lounge-HV) / Rouge Nails Lash Wax (5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 1900, Flowood; 769-572-4747; facebook.com/rougenailsms) / ZaZa Nails and Spa (1053 Highway 49, Richland, 769-447-5959, facebook.com/zazanails49)
(500 Highway 51, Suite F, Ridgeland, 601-910-6730, pricklyhippie.com)
Jenni Sivils says The Prickly Hippie cafe in Ridgeland is a reflection of her three passions under one roof: good coffee, perfectly imperfect baked treats and wacky plants in wacky pots.
"I am a creative and a lover of people, so it made sense for me to have a business where I was able to create in a few different categories, and work with people every day," she says.
The 32-year-old from Eufaula, Ala., earned a degree in creative writing from the Mississippi University for Women in 2012, learning how to bake as a side-hustle. After three years on the road as a traveling baker, Sivils decided to open a catering business back home in Jackson in 2015. Three years later, she founded The Prickly Hippie at its current location.
"The name Prickly Hippie came to me because I'm very much a hippie, and cacti are prickly, and hippies don't always shave their legs," she says with a laugh.
The store is a full-service coffee shop, bakery and florist. Customers can choose their own cacti or succulent and plant it in a zany pot, order a homemade tie-dye donut or "peace tart," browse the Build-A-Bouq wall, make a custom flower arrangement and much more.
Although COVID-19 closed her storefront down for a while and cut her staff, Sivils is grateful for her customers and optimistic for the future. "I would not exist anymore without the Jackson community," she says. —Kyle Hamrick
Best Unique Gifts Finalists
Beacon (3030 N. State St., thebeaconsupply.com) / Bellaches (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 7004, Ridgeland; 601-605-2239; shopbellaches.com) / Herbal Blessings (614 N. Farish St., 769-216-3450, herbalblessings601.com) / Mockingbird Marketplace (2119 Highway 471, Brandon, 601-487-8802, facebook.com/Mockingbird-Marketplace) / OffBeat (151 Wesley Ave., 601-376-9404, offbeatjxn.com) / Soul Synergy Center (5490 Castlewoods Court D, Flowood, 601-992-7721, soulsynergycenter.com)
Best Locally Owned Business Finalists
4th Avenue Lounge (209 S. Lamar St., 601-259-5825, 4thavenuejxn.com) / Enchanting Memories Entertainment (662-590-2748, facebook.com/enchantingmemoriesentertainment) / Josephine's Kitchen (4638 Hanging Moss Road, 769-572-4276, josephineskitchenms.com) / Lakeland Glass and Tint (2665 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-946-1000) / Magically Perfect (504-502-2847, facebook.com/magicallyperfectentertainment) / OffBeat (151 Wesley Ave., 601-376-9404, offbeatjxn.com)
(960 N. Flag Chapel Road, 601-922-7575, carams.org)
Receiving no government funding, Community Animal Rescue & Adoption, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit no-kill shelter, finds support exclusively through private donations from individuals, businesses and fundraising efforts. A team of volunteers and part-time employees run the operation.
"We're dedicated to saving dogs and cats in the Jackson area who need loving homes," shelter manager Stevana Williams says. "We also provide low cost spay/neuter options to reduce the population of unwanted animals and educate the community on responsible pet ownership."
CARA houses about 120 animals in the building and has a small foster network. "We have undergone many changes recently to improve the animals' lives and increase adoptions," Williams says. "We do behavioral testing and have large playgroups in our private dog park. This makes for healthier, happier dogs."
The shelter sets itself apart and boosts adoptions by having its veterinarian-trained staff perform heartworm tests in-house, with animals receiving heartworm prevention or treatment afterward, as needed.
"This is often costly, but ongoing generous donations of cash and items on our wishlist ensure we can provide the best care for our animals," Williams concludes. —Michele D. Baker
Finalists: ARF - Animal Rescue Fund (395 Mayes St., 769-216-3414, arfms.org) / Cheshire Abbey (cheshireabbey.com) / Mississippi Animal Rescue League (5221 Greenway Drive Extension, 601-969-1631, msarl.org) / Webster Animal Shelter (525 Post Oak Road, Madison, 601-605-4729, facebook.com/websteranimalshelter)
(1065 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite F, Ridgeland, 601-856-6665, noblebarber.com)
Lanis Noble channeled his previous experience working with hair to open the Wild West-themed barbershop in late 2016 as a place where guys can come for a shave or cut from him or someone else from his "Noble Group." Afterward, customers can belly up from the salon to the saloon to purchase from a selection of 30 craft brews. Root beer and other sodas are also available.
In addition, Noble Barber offers "Groomsday" parties, where patrons of all ages can get together for a drink and a trim at the Ridgeland-based barbershop. Alternatively, Noble Barber will cater these event services to customers' locations.
Products for sale include Victory Beard Oil, Claymore Strong Hold Styling Clay and a number of other grooming products primarily catered to men.
Customers can make appointments through the company's website or through its mobile app available on Android and iOS devices. Follow Noble Barber on Facebook for regular updates on the business' goings-on. —Julian Mills
Finalists: The Barbershop at Great Scott (4400 Old Canton Road, 601-984-3500, greatscott.net/the-barber-shop) / The Chop Shop Barber and Salon (904 Municipal Drive, Brandon, 769-241-5598, facebook.com/thechopshopbarberandsalon) / Custom Cuts & Styles (2445 Terry Road, 601-321-9292, facebook.com/customcutsandstyles) / Fondren Barber Shop (2939 Old Canton Road, 601-826-0707, facebook.com/Fondren-Barber-Shop) / The Men's Room (418 Pearl Drive, Pearl, 601-939-8261, facebook.com/barbershopmensroom) / Uptown Hair Studio (1700 University Blvd., Suite 23, 601-352-9217, facebook.com/uptownhaircare)
(1700 University Blvd., Suite 23, 601-352-9217, facebook.com/uptownhaircare)
For 20 years, UpTown Hair Studio has provided a welcoming environment for customers to handle their hair-care needs, and owner and hairdresser Pamela Jones believes that her faith makes this possible. "We are set apart by the fact that we are a God-fearing salon," Jones says. "Everybody is welcome."
One of the salon's most recognizable customers Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba, who frequents the shop for his own haircuts, but the salon has served multiple generations of Jacksonians, with Jones noting that many of their clients are families.
For this reason, Jones and her eight stylists prefer not to specialize, instead focusing on being able to do "all types of hair." This inclusive mindset has allowed Uptown Hair Studio to focus on its primary goal: meeting the needs of its customers. "Interacting with the great people of Jackson is the best part of our job," Jones says.
Jones, however, does not want the Jackson community to merely take her at her word, instead inviting locals in need of everything from a trim to a new style to visit her shop and judge for themselves. —Taylor McKay Hathorn
Finalists: Barnette's Salon (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 201; 601-362-9550; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8000, Ridgeland; 601-898-4646; barnettessalon.com) / The Glossary Salon (109 E. Main St., Florence, 601-845-1111, glossaryhairsalon.com) / Molly Gee & Company (219 Garden Park Drive, Suite 200A, Madison; 601-853-0054; mollygeeandco.com) / Smoak Salon 9 (622 Duling Ave., 601-982-5313, smoaksalon.com) / Watercolor Salon (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 300; 601-366-9343; 114 W. Jackson St., Suite 1H, Ridgeland; 601-605-4448; watercolorsalon.com) / Wave Lengths Salon (20 Northtown Drive, 601-956-6224, wavelengthsms.com)
(555 Sunnybrook Road, Ridgeland, 601-957-3400, pattypeckhonda.com)
Patty Peck Honda has been around since 1984, but in the last year, the dealership has improved its already great service to make it even easier for customers to find a great car during the pandemic.
"Part of what we do is make the shopping process very easy," digital Marketing Manager Donna Ransdell says. "Many customers start on our website by gathering information and asking questions via chat."
Recent upgrades have made it even easier to get answers on financing, availability or payment options. Helpful staff work to make each transaction as easy and transparent as possible. "We can help you find a car to fit your budget or compare several cars to find which one best suits your needs," Ransdell says.
Social distancing has spurred the dealership to be even more creative. "We can even do a live walk around video, if the customer wants it," Ransdell says. What's more, Patty Peck Honda will deliver your car and offers a "love it or leave it" three-day money-back guarantee: "We just want our customers to be happy." —Michele D. Baker
Finalists: Acura of Jackson (828 Adcock St., Ridgeland, 769-235-2469, acuraofjackson.com) / Bob Boyte Honda (2188 Highway 18, Brandon, 601-591-5000, bobboytehonda.com) / CIA Autoplex (380 Distribution Drive, Madison, 601-499-0173, ciaautoplex.com) / Mazda of Jackson (5397 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, 601-991-2222, mazdaofjackson.com) / Motorcars of Jackson (6105 Interstate 55, 769-243-8568, motorcarsofjackson.com) / Paul Moak Automotive (740 Larson St., 802 Harding St., 601-360-8300, paulmoak.com)
(110 Homestead Drive, Madison, 601-853-4508, msmetroballet.com)
Originally beginning as the Madison Civic Ballet 28 years ago, the Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet boasts outreach programs, a dance studio, dance academy and general performances throughout the year at the Madison Cultural Center. Primarily serving the county upon inception, the name change occurred in 1997 to reflect the wider geographic area it more accurately serviced and from which the studio attracted dancers.
Through the years, the company has featured a U.S. I.B.C. Bronze medalist, Louisville Ballet Principal Dancers and the San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer to name a few. In addition, the dance academy counts as students award winners in competitions from New York City to Greenville.
With support from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the company travels to underserved areas, introducing ballet to 15,000-plus children over a 20-year time frame. The studio plans to offer a scholarship program for children who have the talent and desire for dance yet lack financial agency. Find class schedules, school policies and a tuition brochure on the company's website. —Mike McDonald
Finalists: Central Mississippi Dance (1450 Highway 471, Brandon, 601-951-6618, centralmsdance.com) / Judah School of Performing Arts (731 S. Pear Orchard Road, Suite 30, Ridgeland; 769-257-0330; judahschool.com) / Rhonda Whitehead's Studio (111 Grants Ferry Road, Brandon, 601-992-0490, rhondasdanceand gym.com) / Salsa Mississippi Club & Studio (605 Duling Ave., 601-213-6355, salsamississippi.com) / Studio K (900 E. County Line Road, Suite 220A, Ridgeland; 769-251-1506; facebook.com/StudioK601) / XPress Dance Company (2160 Main St., Suite D, Madison; 601-853-0826; xdance.net)
(705 N. State St., 601-957-1951, greenbrookflowers.com)
Flowers make a statement, and this year's winner of the Best Florist category makes sure that your statement speaks louder than the rest. Greenbrook Flowers has been a staple in Jackson since 1917, and it's not by chance. When you enter the shop on State Street, you are met with the sweet smell of flowers and the sight of handcrafted arrangements. The shop offers florals for all occasions as well as gifts and baskets available for same-day delivery to Jackson and the surrounding areas. Orders and consultations can be handled in-person, online, or via phone.
Greenbrook is well known for its annual "Good Neighbor Day" which began in 1994. Each September, people line up outside the state street store to receive a dozen free roses. There is one stipulation: each person who receives a bouquet is to keep only one rose and distribute the others to friends, family, neighbors and strangers. —Torsheta Jackson
Finalists: A Daisy A Day (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 194, 601-982-4438, adaisyadayjackson.com) / Chapman's Florist (5647 Highway 80, Suite 6, Pearl; 601-936-0391, chapmansflowershop.com) / Fresh Cut Catering & Floral ((108 Cypress Cove, Flowood, 601-939-4518, freshcutcateringandfloral.com) / Green Oak Florist & Garden Center (5009 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5017, greenoakms.com) / Mostly Martha's Floral Designs (353 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-956-1474, mostlymarthasflorist.com) / The Prickly Hippie (500 Highway 51, Suite F, Ridgeland, 601-910-6730, pricklyhippie.com)
(711 High St., 601-354-3549, carterdiamonds.com)
Carter Jewelers, the oldest jewelry store in the state and one of the oldest in the nation, has seen many changes since it first opened in 1849. Owner and President Jerry Lake claims that the original owners, the von Seutters, helped the store survive the unrest of the Civil War by "burying the jewelry in suitcases until things normalized."
Fate seemed to favor the store again in 1997 during one of Lake's visits to the storefront prior to purchasing the business. "I noticed that the first six digits of the store's FedEx number were the same six digits as my birthday, so I thought it couldn't have been a coincidence," Lake recalls.
For Lake, the stars' seeming alignment isn't the end of the story, as his staff remains committed to offering diamonds that are, in his view, "second-to-none in quality and workmanship." Their sales reflect this belief, as Lake declares that Carter's "sells more diamond jewelry than anyone else around this part of the world." —Taylor McKay Hathorn
Finalists: Albriton's Jewelry (4460 Old Canton Road, 601-982-4020, albritons.com) / Beckham Custom Jewelry Co. (120 District Blvd. E., Suite D110, 601-665-4642, beckhamcustomjewelry.com) / Crossgates Jewelers (401 Cross Park Drive, Suite A, Pearl; 601-939-9313) / Jackson Jewelers (253 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-992-1700, jacksonjewelersinc.com) / Juniker Jewelry Co. (1485 Highland Colony Parkway, Madison, 601-366-3754, junikerjewelry.com) / Kris Jewelers (1200 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland, 601-974-5790, krisjewelers.com)
(717 Manship St.; 601-968-1766; 102 Clinton Parkway, Clinton; 601-925-7900; 501 Baptist Drive, Madison; 601-856-7757; baptistonline.org)
A returning Best of Jackson winner, the Baptist Healthplex has been serving downtown Jackson since 1989. Baptist offers a variety of services and fitness equipment including an indoor track, an aerobics floor, a heated pool, a Cybex fitness system, exercise bikes, treadmills, rowers, weights and cardio equipment.
The healthplex's classes include group activities with titles such as Hatha Yoga, Ballet Fitness, Cardio Kick and Dance Aerobics. Those who enjoy aquatic exercise can find a number of water-based classes as well.
"We always appreciate the Jackson Free Press noticing businesses around town getting nominated, so we're always excited to be advertised in the community," Baptist Healthplex Director Tony James says about receiving the facility's second nomination in a row. —Julian Mills
Finalists: The Club (340 Township Ave., Ridgeland, 601-856-0668; 970 Lakeland Drive, 601-200-4925; 100 Professional Drive, Brandon, 601-591-2582; theclubms.com) / Crossfit 601 (210 Industrial Cove, Ridgeland, 601-941-8904, crossfit601.com) / Fondren Fitness (2807 Old Canton Road, 601-540-0338, fondrenfitness.com) / The Gym at Byram (136 Byram Parkway, 601-372-2229, thegymatbyram.com) / Xplicit J3 Fitness (1625 E. County Line Road, 601-850-3425, xplicitj3fitness.com)
Best Local Bank: BankPlus
(multiple locations, bankplus.net)
While many financial institutions have established themselves in the Jackson metro, residents have voted BankPlus—which offers checking and savings accounts; personal, auto and home loans; and a number of other services—as this year's Best Local Bank.
BankPlus believes that its mission extends beyond the customer financial products expected of a bank. The bank involves itself in the community through partnerships with local organizations such as the American Heart Association, Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital and the Mississippi Museum of Art, among others. It also supports education through an Adopt-a-School program and provides financial literacy programs such as "Get Smart About Credit" and "Teach Children to Save."
Community development remains a large focus of the bank, as BankPlus also has a hand in programs that strengthen neighborhoods, boost small businesses and assist in affordable housing. —Torsheta Jackson
Finalists: BancorpSouth (multiple locations, bancorpsouth.com) / Community Bank (multiple locations, communitybank.net) / First Commercial Bank (1300 Meadowbrook Road; 601-709-7777; 1076 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 150, Ridgeland; 601-790-2770; firstcommericalbk.com) / Regions (multiple locations, regions.com) / Renasant (Multiple locations, renasantbank.com) / Trustmark (multiple locations, trustmark.com)
Best Local Clothing Store: Material Girls
(100 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite7005, Ridgeland; 601-605-1605, shopmaterialgirls.com)
The staff members of Material Girls do their homework when it comes to staying on top of the latest trends. "We go to market a good bit," Director of Operations Laura Brown says. "We're always looking for the next best thing."
Brown believes that the customers often have the best ideas about what constitutes the "next best thing," so the staff takes care to ask customers which items are missing from their closet and then attempts to stock such items.
Customers who choose Material Girls are treated to a wide range of women's apparel, from satiny one-shoulder blouses to oversized flannels to snake-print dresses. Fashionistas can complete their ensembles by browsing the shop's shoe selection or by selecting accessories such as clutches, necklaces and tote bags. —Taylor McKay Hathorn
Finalists: Altar'd State (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 5009, 601-790-1009, altardstate.com) / Kinkade's Fine Clothing (120 West Jackson St., Ridgeland, 601-898-0513, kinkades.com) / Libby Story (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 5003, Ridgeland; 601-717-3300, libbystory.com) / N.U.T.S. (114 Millsaps Ave., 601-355-7458, facebook.com/nutsjackson) / Swell-O-Phonic (2906 N. State St., Suite 103, 601-981-3547, chane.com)
(226 N. State St., 601-359-9000, oldcapitolinn.com)
The graceful Old Capitol Inn opened in 1996. Owners transformed the former YWCA gym/basketball court by adding a mezzanine into a grand ballroom opening onto a walled garden courtyard. "We rent the Vieux Carre for rehearsal dinners, bridal brunches, birthday parties and other events," owner Mende (Malouf) Alford says. "The sunroom and garden are also available, and the rooftop, weather permitting."
No matter the event, chef Bruce Cain can cater it. Specialties of the house include shrimp and grits and artichoke dip, but the real magic happens when guests make requests. "We customize every detail," Alford says. "We don't really have options A, B and C. The menus are just for guidance. Have your grandma's recipe? We're happy to make it. Prefer traditional Lebanese food? We can handle it."
Beverages can be created to taste, too. "We offer beer, wine and we can mix signature drinks," Alford says.
Decorations and entertainment options are also as individual as the guest. "We've had the ballroom swathed in beautiful Indian fabrics for Diwali, and another group projected old-school black and white movies on the brick wall outside," Alford adds. "We just want your event to be fun and fabulous." —Michele D. Baker
Finalists: 4th Avenue Lounge (209 S. Lamar St., 601-259-5825, 4thavenuejxn.com) / Banner Hall (4465 Interstate 55 N., 601-842-2297, facebook.com/BannerHall) / The Briar Patch (1150 Old Cedars Lane, Flora, 601-559-8565) / The Cedars (4145 Old Canton Road, 601-366-5552) / Fairview Inn (734 Fairview St., 601-948-3429, fairviewinn.com) / The Strawberry Cafe (107 Depot Drive, Madison, 601-856-3822, strawberrycafemadison.com)
(1325 Flowood Drive, Flowood, 601-953-5914, flowoodantiquefleamarket.com)
With over 65,000 square feet of retail space under one roof, the Flowood Antique Flea Market boasts a vast variety of vendors selling everything from antique collectibles to the latest items.
David Murrell took ownership of the combination antique mall and flea market together 10 years ago, opening it after the flea market at the Mississippi State Fair Grounds closed in 2005. Jack Cameron bought into the building in 2019 to become a co-owner.
The Flowood Antique Flea Market harbors both a traditional flea market and an antique mall in one place, Cameron says. In the flea-market section, vendors rent their retail space and sell their own items; and in the antique-mall area, the vendors sell through the mall. Cameron and Murrell take pride in the fact that they've never raised the rent in the past decade, and that the antique-mall section is at full capacity with a waiting list. Cameron estimates about 800 people pass through the market when it's open on the weekends.
"We literally have everything from A to Z," Cameron says. Many of the vendors have been in business for more than 20 years, and he describes the group of vendors as a "big family." —Kyle Hamrick
Finalists: Antique Aly (294 Commerce Park Drive, Ridgeland, 769-300-0262) / Antique Mall of the South (367 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-853-4000, antiquemallofthesouth.com) / Beacon (3030 N. State St., thebeaconsupply.com) / N.U.T.S. (114 Millsaps Ave., 601-355-7458) / Old House Depot (639 Monroe St., 601-592-6200, oldhousedepot.com) / Repeat Street (242 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-605-9123, repeatstreet.net)
Best Local Credit Union: Hope Credit Union
(multiple locations, hopecu.org)
The members of Anderson United Methodist Church founded Hope Credit Union in 1995 with the mission of decreasing the wealth gap by reducing the effects spurred by issues such as race, gender and physical location.
Hope offers common financial services such as checking and savings accounts as well as personal and home loans. The credit union also has a loan fund that provides commercial, mortgage and community-facility loans in economically distressed areas.
In June 2020, Hope announced a $10-million deposit by Netflix that will be used to provide financing to more than 2,500 entrepreneurs, homebuyers and consumers of color over the next two years.
The primary branch of Hope is in Jackson; however, the credit union spreads further, with 12 branches across Mississippi and 28 in the South as a whole. —Torsheta Jackson.
Finalists: Jackson Area Federal Credit Union (5675 Highway 18 W.; 7375 Siwell Road, Byram; 601-922-7055; jacksonareafcu.com) / Keesler Federal Credit Union (multiple locations, kfcu.org) / Mississippi Federal Credit Union (100 Alumni Drive; 500 Clinton Center Drive, Clinton; 601-351-9200; msfcu.us) / Mississippi National Guard Federal Credit Union (142 Military Drive, 601-932-5194, msng.org)
Best Place to Buy Kids' Clothes/Toys: Play Pen
(4754 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, 601-362-7256, babysupermarket.com)
Since 1954, Cullen's Play Pen, a family-owned and operated store, has been providing families in and around Jackson with baby furniture, bedding, car seats, strollers, toys, collectible dolls and play dolls. The brick-and-mortar store features toys for children of all ages, from building blocks and soft toys to scooters, pogo sticks, bicycles and everything in-between.
During the pandemic, Play Pen delivers orders curbside to help keep families safe, and people can visit Babysupermarket—Play Pen's online "sister" store—for the same quality service to families in the 48 contiguous states. Babysupermarket is a member of the National Independent Nursery Furniture Retailers Association, ensuring that customers always receive quality products. —Michele D. Baker
Finalists: Leap Frog (104 Village Blvd., Madison, 601-898-0727, leapfrogmadison.com) / Rhea Lana's Children's Consignment (662-588-8178, facebook.com/MadisonRidgelandRheaLanas) / Row 10 (1107 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 105, 601-707-5846, row10baby.com) / Southern Raised (151 W. Government St., Suite A, Brandon; 601-591-7313; shopsouthernraised.com) / WEE the People (119 Colony Crossing Way, Suite 640, Madison; 769-231-7496; weethepeoplems.com) / Willow & Grace (4237 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-939-1191, facebook.com/shopwillowandgrace)
Best Place to Get Your Car Fixed: Capitol Body Shop
(multiple locations, capitolbodyshop.com)
Longtime Best of Jackson winner Capitol Body Shop first opened its doors in 1963 under the ownership of Chad White, who leased the downtown Jackson building at a time when he only had two other employees. In the decades since, Capitol Body Shop has expanded across the Jackson metro, with locations in Flowood, Byram, Ridgeland and Gluckstadt. Chad White's son, Doug White, took over the business from his father in the mid 1990s.
"We're grateful to all the residents of the Jackson metro who have been our faithful customers for many years," Leon Hemphill, sales and marketing manager for Capitol Body Shop, says.
Capitol Body Shop provides 24-hour towing, body and collision repair, painting, oil changes, full-service mechanical repair, windshield glass repair and more. The shop also gives a written warranty on all repairs and offers a complimentary shuttle service for customers. —Dustin Cardon
Finalists: Acey's (827 W. McDowell Road, 601-373-4623) / Barnett's Body Shop (Multiple locations, barnettsbodyshohp.com) / Freeman Auto Repair (847 State St., 601-948-3358, freemanautorepair.com) / Greene's Tire Auto Service (715 Ridgewood Road, Ridgeland, 601-957-0201; 1405 E. Northside Drive, Clinton, 601-924-3800; greenestire.com) / Tony's Tire & Automotive (5138 N. State St., 601-981-2414)
(1225 N. State St., 601-968-1000, baptistonline.org)
With a staff of nearly 3,000, Baptist Medical Center is one of the 10 largest employers in Jackson. The hospital prioritizes its employees' satisfaction, conducting a survey each spring to inquire about experiences and expectations in the workplace.
"This year, the survey (was given) after COVID, and we saw a big increase in employee engagement," COO Brad Beattie says. Beattie hopes that this practice fosters a company culture of transparency, as meetings are then initiated at the departmental level in order to solicit feedback from staff members.
"We ask for ideas on how to improve," Beattie says of the process. "Then we tell them what we're going to do to improve, so they can see that we're using their feedback to make improvements." —Taylor McKay Hathorn
Finalists: Barnette's Salon (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 201, 601-362-9550; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8000, Ridgeland, 601-898-4646, barnettessalon.com) / Bob Boyte Honda (2188 Highway 18, Brandon, 601-591-5000, bobboytehonda.com) / Jackson Academy (4908 Ridgewood Road, 601-362-9676, jacksonacademy.org) / Lakeland Glass & Tint (2665 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-946-1000, facebook.com/lgandtint) / Merit Health Central (1850 Chadwick Drive, 601-376-1000, merithealthcentral.com) / Tougaloo College (500 W. County Line Road, Tougaloo, 601-977-7700, tougaloo.edu)
(5490 Castlewoods Court, Suite D, Flowood; 601-992-7721; soulsynergycenter.com)
A one-stop-shop for everything yoga, Soul Synergy Center offers classes ranging from beginner and intermediate, to advanced, to pregnancy yoga and to chair yoga for elders. The center can accommodate any skill level or health challenge.
"All our yoga instructors are trained in multiple modalities like Iyengar, vinyasa, ashtanga, and more," Center Director Tamnisha Dortch says. "We offer classes based on a person's needs and have many different dates and times to accommodate all schedules." Customers can participate in a drop-in class for $15 or purchase a 10-pack of classes for $100.
"We offer gentle stretching poses; warm flow yoga that gets you sweating for a nice workout; candlelight relaxation yoga; and kundalini yoga, which focuses on breath, postures, meditation and chanting or singing," Jennifer Malik, Soul Synergy's yoga director, says. "Our motto is celebrating mind, body and spirit."
Soul Synergy Center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and also offers a wide range of massage, Reiki, foot reflexology, a salt cave and a gift shop, as well as virtual services. —Michele D. Baker
Finalists: M Theory Yoga (118 W. Jackson St., Suite C, Ridgeland; 601-790-7402, mtheoryyoga.com) / Namaste at the Bar (namastejxn.com) / Tara Yoga (200 Park Circle Drive, Suite 4, Flowood; 601-720-2337; tara-yoga.net) / Yoga by Jean (717 Rice Road, Ridgeland, 769-798-7355, yogabyjean.com)
Best Tattoo/Piercing Parlor: The Electric Dagger
(2906 N. State St., Suite B6, 601-982-9437, electricdagger.com)
Established in 2013, The Electric Dagger initiated a number of protocols to help keep its customers safe and to ensure that the storefront continues to thrive during the pandemic.
Although the shop has discontinued walk-ins as part of these protective measures, the company website encourages those looking to add new body art to book an appointment online with one of its three on-site artists.
Jason Thomas, the owner and founder of The Electric Dagger, specializes in "skulls, snakes and daggers," while artist Mike Richardson calls his own style "illustrative and traditional," with much of his art featuring shades of black and gray. The lone female artist, Mallory Kay Palmertree, has a folksy eye for detail, often creating colorful pieces for the patrons of the studio. —Taylor McKay Hathorn
Finalists: Ink Addicts Studio (500 E. Woodrow Wilson Ave., Suite B, 769-230-4960, inkaddictsstudio.com) / Inkk Culture Tattoo (840 E. River Place, Suite 607, 601-966-5472, instagram.com/inkkculturetattoo) / Inkk Junkies Tattoo (182 Raymond Road, 769-251-5823, instagram.com/inkk_junkies_tattoos) / Squench's Tattoos (3780 Interstate 55 S. Frontage Road, 601-372-2800, squenchstattoos.com)
Best Thrift/Consignment Shop: Repeat Street
(242 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-605-9123, repeatstreet.net)
Repeat Street, in its ninth year as the winner of the Best Thrift/Consignment Shop category, houses 17,000 square feet of constantly changing inventory. Customers can find clothing for men, women and children, as well as furniture and antiques, while the outdoor area showcases lawn, garden and lawn decor.
The business now includes several retail arms, such as The Pawlor at Repeat Street. The room, a partnership with Community Animal Rescue and Adoption, features furniture home decor, seasonal clothing and other items for sale. Fifty percent of these profits benefit the no-kill animal shelter.
The storehouse at Repeat Street, a vendor mall located next door, contains more than 40 merchants offering gifts, clothing, food and other items for customers. —Torsheta Jackson
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, facebook.com/nutsjackson) / Orange Peel (closed) (422 Mitchell Ave., 601-364-9977, facebook.com/orangepeelfondren) / Palladian Consign & Design (637 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-790-9678, facebook.com/PalladianConsign) / The Real McCoy Thrift Store and Boutique (5482 N. State St., 769-572-5709, themccoyhouse.com) / Rhea Lana's Children's Consignment (662-588-8178)
(488 Mannsdale Road, Madison, 601-499-5200, themac.vet)
Dale Wilson, owner of Mannsdale Animal Clinic in Madison, opened his small animal-exclusive veterinary clinic in 2014 with the goal of "redefining the veterinary experience."
"We want people to feel important from the time they arrive to the time they leave and make sure that not only are our clients' pets getting the best possible care, the clients are as well," Wilson says.
Wilson grew up in Greenville, Miss., and practiced at Oakdale Animal Hospital in Brandon from 2005 to 2014, after he moved to the Jackson metro. He owns a brindle Great Dane named Willow.
The clinic offers vaccinations, sick pet visits, digital x-rays, ultrasounds, heartworm and disease treatment, pet medications, surgery, chemotherapy, preventative care, spay and neutering services, boarding and more. —Dustin Cardon
Finalists: Animal Hospital of Clinton (497 Springridge Road, Clinton, 601-924-4169, animalhospitalclinton.com) / Animal Medical Center (995 Interstate 20 S. Frontage Road, 601-354-3622, animalmedicalcenterofjackson.com) / Hometown Veterinary Hospital (2001 Creek Cove, Brandon, 601-825-1697, hometownvethospital.com) / Luckney Animal Hospital (280 Belle Meade Point, Flowood, 601-992-3299, luckneyanimal.com) / North State Animal & Bird Hospital (5208 N. State St., 601-982-8261, northstateanimalhospital.com) / URGIVET Emergency Vets of Madison (15 Olympic Way, Madison, 601-790-1918, urgivet.com)