Best of the best: Retail

Fresh, local produce lines the shelves at Kingma's, Photo by Lisa Enos

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The results of our 2023 Best of the Best readers’ survey in the retail category – which covers a host of businesses, from ‘where we go to fill our cupboards’ to clothing stores, car dealerships and bike shops – are as follows:

Specialty Grocer
1st place: Martha’s Vineyard
2nd place: Kingma’s Market
Martha’s Vineyard and Kingma’s Market are perennial favorites of Grand Rapids residents eager for a unique shopping experience, locally sourced items, and a wide array of products.

Martha’s Vineyard, at the corner of Union Avenue and Lyon Street in Heritage Hill, continues atop the Top Ten list of specialty grocers thanks to its heart-stopping array of wines, beers and specialty beverages, wide selection of luscious cheeses and the nearly endless supply of unique grocery items.

The market, which expanded its space five years ago, continues in that vein by growing its fresh produce section and offering vegan, gluten-free, and organic selections. Items sourced from Michigan businesses, both local and around the state, are marked with a Michigan symbol.

Examples include milks from HilHof Dairy in Hersey, and McClure’s Pickles and Gus & Grey jams from Detroit. Martha’s Vineyard is well known for its unusual fare, from an impressive array of vinegars and oils to Duck Liver & Pork Mousse with Cognac, from parmesan and kale salad in the fresh deli to the gorgeously packaged Mirzam chocolates.

One of the tenets of Martha’s Vineyard is “trying to give back to the community,” said grocery buyer Chanda McCuien. “We love being active in the community, donating when we can.”

Kingma’s Market, at 2225 Plainfield Avenue NE, is 10,000 square feet of distinction. From its front wall of 350 unique to-go snack items to its back butcher shop, Kingma’s is what owner Alan Hartline calls a “foodie experience” and  “celebration of local.”

Much seasonal produce from apples to zucchini is delivered the day it’s picked. That squash? In the field that morning. Those apples? Delivered in the wee hours right from the orchard. Half of the produce for sale is locally produced or produced in Michigan, according to Hartline.

Look for vegetables from Green Wagon Farms in Ada, lettuce and herbs from Superbloom Farms in the heart of Grand Rapids, handcrafted coffee from Truck Stop Organics in Traverse City, and Kingma’s own brand of salsa.

Local bakeries are well represented, and the butcher shop features meats delivered from local farms. “The prices are actually better because we aren’t paying transportation costs,” said Hartline. And the fresh bologna? Perfection.

These specialty grocers are destination shopping at its best, with the added bonus of eating local and supporting Michigan-based business.

Beer & Wine Merchant
1st Place: Martha’s Vineyard
2nd Place: Rishi’s International Beverage

Grocery Store
1st Place: Meijer
Meijer—that one-stop store for cat food, WD-40, parsnips, and socks—is a part of the Grand Rapids landscape and economy thanks to a dedication to making sure its stores are well-stocked and well-run. Meijer also gives back to the community through its Simply Give program, offers curb-side pickup, and
is always adding new Meijer-branded products at reasonable prices.
2nd Place: Forest Hills Foods

Butcher Shop
1st Place: Sobie Meats
Tim and Teresa Sobie opened Sobie Meats in 2004 and in 2011 moved to their current location on Remembrance Road NW. Known for its pulled pork, fine cuts of meat, jerky, and, now, specialty grocery items, Sobie Meats is a destination store for those looking for a unique shopping experience, a fine chuck roast, and a pound of fresh bacon.
2nd Place: EA Brady’s

1st Place: Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery
The historic Robinette’s orchard has been in the family for generations and has drawn folks to it for just as long thanks to good food, unique gifts, fall festivities, to-die-for donuts, and lots and lots of apples. Located at 4 Mile Road and the East Beltline, Robinette’s has carved out a spot in the hearts of those who love a good corn maze, cider slushie, home-made wine and cider, and a barn full of interesting products. And obviously a wide selection of tasty apples grown on the property.
2nd Place: Ed Dunnebeck & Girls

Garden Center
1st Place: Flowerland
Garden center with a variety of plants and everything you need to care for them, outdoor patio furniture, garden decor and more!
2nd Place: Horrocks Market

1st Place: Riley’s Ace Hardware

This Michigan Street gem is more than just a Hardware store. It stocks a myriad of items needed for every household; tools, garden supplies, home decor and more.
2nd Place: Kingsland Ace Hardware & Rental

Women’s Clothing
1st Place: Leigh’s

Top-of-the-line women’s fashion is on display at Leigh’s on Breton Road. Those looking for designer everything—clothing, jewelry, handbags, shoes, sunglasses, lingerie, beauty products—find the perfect look here. Shop online or come into the store for personalized styling advice from experts who visit the runways during Fashion Week to bring up-to-the-minute fashion to local shoppers.
2nd Place: Lee & Birch

Consignment Shop
1st Place: Rosa’s Closet

Located in Gaslight Village, this tiny boutique is often filled with unique, top-of-the-line name brands, gently worn garments and accessories.
2nd Place: Georgie’s Consignment Clothing

Men’s Clothing
1st Place: AK Rikk’s

“Upscale online boutique carrying on-trend designer apparel for men & women. Explore the latest trends in designer fashion. Shop luxury clothing, shoes, & accessories.”
2nd Place: Fitzgerald’s

Home Decor
1st Place: Commune GR
Upscale East Hills neighborhood home decor store, located at 954 Cherry Street.
2nd Place: The Counting House

Interior Design
1st Place: Kathryn Chaplow

Residential and commercial interior designer, 251 State Street, Grand Rapids.
2nd Place: Fuscia

1st Place: Century Antiques

Unique antique furniture and other items for the home and collectors, 445 Century Ave. SW.
2nd Place: Elevated Antiques

Local Art
1st Place: LaFontsee Galleries

Located at 833 Lake Dr SE, Grand Rapids representing more than 70 artists. Services include art, framing, design, printing, photo restoration, art handling and installation.
2nd Place: The 12th House

Furniture Store
1st Place: Talsma Furniture

Talsma Furniture in Hudsonville, MI has earned a reputation for providing quality furniture for less since 1948. With 4 store locations across West Michigan.
2nd Place: Stonesthrow

1st Place: Schuler Books

Indie bookstores have to be at the pinnacle of cool places to hang out, with Schuler Books at the top of the coolness list. Schuler is the place to go for the latest bestsellers, classics, genre-specific titles, used books, and magazines, not to mention the café, work spaces, and the wide variety of gifts—from puzzles to gift wrap, socks to stationary. The children’s section is superb, and Michigan authors are always on prominent display. Added benefits: online shopping, author events, and the Espresso Book Machine for making paperback books.
2nd Place: Books & Mortar

Comic Book Store
1st Place: Vault of Midnight

Located in the walkable district of Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids, Vault of Midnight is the go-to place for comics and graphic novels.
2nd Place: Argos Books

1st Place: Piper Automotive Piper Automotive is a general automotive repair shop located at 2306 Chicago Dr Sw, in Wyoming.
2nd Place: Fox Motors

Bike Shop
1st Place: Freewheeler Bike Shop

The popular bike shop on Leonard Street NW stocks a wide variety of bikes—from a child’s first two- wheeler to BMX bikes, from electric to fat-tire bikes. Plus all the accessories, apparel, and extra parts needed to keep a good bike running and a rider safe and looking good. Knowledgeable employees can build you a bike from the tires up, fit you with one in stock, and fix whatever’s broken.
2nd Place: Switchback Gear Exchange

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