Best of Carolina is back
By Sophie Karapatakis, firstname.lastname@example.org
After two years of the pandemic, Garnet Media Group’s Best of Carolina returns this month with recommendations from the most voters the publication has ever recorded.
Best of Carolina features the top-voted businesses from five major categories of on-campus, food and beverage, shopping, entertainment and miscellaneous. These winners are chosen by students and patrons of the businesses, making Best of Carolina a finger on the pulse of what is popular in Columbia.
The publication was originally part of The Daily Gamecock when it began in 2012 but moved to Garnet Media Group in 2019.
“It was, and still is, a way to showcase what businesses those in the area believe to be the best of the best, which is why we work so hard to collect votes and produce a beautiful publication,” Garnet Media Group marketing director Gracie Bryant says. “Best of Carolina provides a unique and free advertising opportunity named ‘the best’ in local businesses' niche market to visiting families, tour groups and new students across campus.”
Periennial favorites include the fraternity lots as “Best Tailgating Spot” and Chick-fil-A as “Best On-Campus Eats,” but this year’s Best of Carolina includes a few new categories to highlight more local favorites.
One of the most popular category additions is “Best Student Run Business,” which gives students an opportunity to show support for a fellow Gamecock entreprenuer. This year's winner is SodaCity Thrifts — a T-shirt thrift store run on Instagram. Gray Thomas, the owner of SodaCity Thrifts, credits his win to relationships he has built on campus and in the surrounding community.
“I remember the first day I posted on the account," Thomas says. "To see all of the behind-the-scenes work get recognized by a student body and university that means so much to me is a very remarkable feeling.”
It also could potentially translate into growth for his business.
"I believe a lot of new faces will become aware of SodaCity Thrifts through the Best of Carolina publication,” he says. “That gives a small business owner an incredible opportunity to continue to build new relationships and essentially sell more T-shirts.”
Best of Carolina’s return is especially welcome for the students who work on the publication.
“My first Best of Carolina in 2020 got stuck in boxes because of COVID-19, and 2021’s edition was launched in a ‘low-key’ way, for lack of better words,” Bryant says. “This year is the first year that I’m finally getting to bring my launch vision to life, and I could not be more excited.”
The event will include some of the winning businesses and kicks off at 11 a.m. Monday (March 21) on Greene Street.
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