While we are saddened by the loss of Wilton favorite Bon Appetit Café and the announcement that Bella & Co. will be closing at the end of August–news which had many of us bemoaning the fate of small businesses in our town–we were very heartened to hear that eight Wilton businesses were voted number one in their respective categories, topping competition from all over Fairfield County in the “Best of the Gold Coast 2014” awards.

The awards are sponsored by Moffly Media, which publishes local magazines, including Westport, Weston & Wilton; Fairfield Living; Stamford Magazine; New Canaan, Darien + Rowayton; Greenwich Magazine; and At Home in Fairfield County.

Wilton businesses that were 2014 winners  included:

A. Flood of Paper – Wedding Invitations/Stationary
B CHIC  – Jeans
Earth Garden – Editors Pick
Orem’s Diner – Diner
Pet Pantry Warehouse – Pet Supplies
Splash Car Wash – Car Wash
The Schoolhouse at Cannondale – Service
Westy Self Storage – Storage

Also worth mentioning, A Little Something White, located in Darien, is owned by Wilton resident Ashley Krauss, and fellow Wiltonian Andy Pforzheimer’s Barcelona and Bar Taco restaurants won for Best Tapas Menu (the former) and Outdoor Dining and Margaritas (the latter) – olé!

While three of the winners are local outposts of larger chains (Pet Pantry Warehouse, Splash Car Wash, and Westy Self Storage), the others are independent businesses (Earth Garden has a second location in New Canaan) that help give Wilton its unique character and aesthetic that can be lost in neighboring cities like Stamford and Norwalk.

Erica Malholtra, who has owned B CHIC for eight years this August, has three consecutive “Best Jeans” awards under her, ahem, belt.  She said the recognition by those who voted for her business is important to her because “customers will realize that our store specializes in something specific, like denim.” She’s also thrilled to do business in Wilton, “I have loved every minute of it. Wilton people really support their local business.”

In addition to the residents, Wilton steps up in other ways as well.

“This town does make it easy for retailers to succeed. I have gotten lots of support over the years and the Wilton Chamber of Commerce is a big help,” Malholtra said. For those who may have been doubtful, this is a refreshing sentiment to hear indeed.

A. Flood of Paper, owned by Ashley Flood, has been in business for four-and-a-half years.

“My small business has worked because I have many clients that come to Wilton from surrounding towns just for invitations and stationery. That being said, I have many personal friends that live in neighboring towns that have never once been to Wilton Center.  Rent is one of the highest expenses for a small business, so anything to keep rents low would help bring [new] business owners to Wilton.”

Flood is grateful to her clients who voted for her business, saying it signifies three things:  “First, that they really love the products, designs, and work I do! Secondly, it means they appreciate the local personal experience and customer service that they get rather than anonymously ordering things online.  And the third reason is that it means that my clients keep in touch and know that I still love working with them!”

Flood was worried when she moved from the front of the Old Ridgefield Rd. building (next to the Village Luncheonette) to the less visible back, and that when she transitioned from regular retail hours to “by appointment” shopping that her clients would have a harder time finding her. However, she said, “it’s been a wonderful experience and this award tells me that my clients know I’m here and it gives me a greater appreciation for them.”

She said that’s what makes her stay.

“I wouldn’t want my studio to be in any other town! I love being a part of the community and truly love driving through charming Wilton Center to get to work. My clients in Wilton have been more loyal than I could have imagined, making it easy for me to keep going. I know they will always come back for the next celebration, the next invitation, and the next package of stationery. The small decision they make to order invitations from A. Flood of Paper rather than somewhere else keeps my business successful, and I appreciate each and every time they make that decision!”

So, Wilton, the message is clear:  you really can find the “Best” of our region right here in Wilton. Shop locally to help keep these award-winning businesses in our town. Your support really does mean a lot.

And if you’re a business owner–or loyal customer–of a Wilton business that you think should be featured on this Wilton business, contact editor@goodmorningwilton.com.