Dozens of local businesses had a moment in the spotlight Tuesday evening in Newberry Hall, with the annual Aiken’s Choice celebration honoring customers’ favorites from throughout the community, with categories from broadly familiar (“pizza” and “new car dealer”) to highly specialized (“kids’ birthday party” and “place for first date”).
Diane Daniell, the Aiken Standard’s advertising operations manager, congratulated the 29th annual event’s winners and expressed thanks to sponsors, including Eye Guys Spec’s Vision Center, Aiken Staffing, Shellhouse Funeral Home, Shellhouse-Rivers Funeral Home, Tyler’s Tire and Auto Center, Aiken Staffing, Job Shop, Return Engagement and Wayne Heath Automotive.
Party pictures were part of the package, the soundtrack came courtesy of County Road 49 (tops in the “Local Band” category), and catering covered possibilities for a variety of palates.
Mitch Rivers, manager of Shellhouse-Rivers, was among the participants, and noted that this was his company’s 29th year winning the award. “We’re grateful for the confidence that the people of Aiken have placed in us over the years,” Rivers said, noting that the business dates back to 1993, with a merger following in 2001. “It started out with Shellhouse, and then we combined, it’s just gone from there.”
Making similar comments was Graham Hall, president of Shellhouse and Shellhouse-Rivers. He confirmed that team efforts result in “quite a few thank-you letters” from families being served.
Representing Coldwell Banker Realty was Debbie Roland, a repeat winner in the “Realtor” category. “I work with a lot of people who are relocating to this area, and my speciality is that my services go beyond the transaction. I am helping people with connecting to the community, finding jobs, finding hobbies to participate in … and a year or two later, many of my clients are still my friends.”
Her background, she said, includes time in sales, marketing and public relations.
“I have always been told by everyone that I have the personality and the drive to be an excellent real estate agent. I never wanted to do real estate, but God had other plans for me,” she said.
Honors went to individuals, such as Dr. Trey Wofford (“Veterinarian”) and Josh Bolen (“Personal Trainer”), and organizations, such as Security Federal Bank (“Financial Institution”) and Cold Creek Nurseries (“Landscaper”). Some have existed for decades, such as St. John’s United Methodist Church (“Place to Worship”) and others are new on the local scene, such as Nothing Bundt Cakes (“Bakery”).