June 24th, 2024

Best of the Best celebrating local business excellence

By Trevor Busch - Lethbridge Herald on February 24, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtbusch@lethbridgeherald.com

Editor’s Note: Included in today’s edition is a special section which has all the results in all of the categories for the annual Best of the Best competition. We encourage readers to have a look and recognize your neighbours and friends that put in the time and effort to be recognized by the community.

Now an annual tradition for Lethbridge business, the Best of the Best competition celebrates all things local and provides an opportunity to stand head and shoulders above the rest.
“This started about 30 years ago now with the Sun Times newspaper, and at that time it was a paper ballot. You got to fill in who you thought, and there were only 40 different categories. You dropped it off at the newspaper and then we had to tally them all,” said Brian Hancock, publisher of the Lethbridge Herald. “Over the years it has grown to the stage where – there were 40 categories, maybe 800 or 1,000 votes – we now have, by IP address, 100,000 different voter places, over 200,000 votes. It has taken on a life of its own, people look forward to this contest every year. The response just keeps growing and it’s absolutely amazing.”
Hancock highlighted the local nature of Best of the Best and just how successful the competition has become since its inception three decades ago.
“When you see the number of different people voting and the number of votes cast, you really realize this is as legitimate as it gets. There’s a few other companies that have tried doing something similar in the market, and they’re not even Lethbridge-based businesses. We’re the only ones, and it is Lethbridge-based completely. It’s been a phenomenal success…if we were ever to say we were not going to do it, I think the outcry would be loud and strong. And we enjoy doing it, it’s a fun thing.”
The competition results have morphed into something a little more serious than bragging rights.
“A lot of businesses use it as a gauge to see how they compare with other businesses in their industry, what are we doing right, what are we doing wrong, so it’s a real business analysis tool for people,” said Hancock.
Category winners receive a plaque which helps identify them as a peer-reviewed business of excellence.
“You’ll see them around town when you’re shopping. If you see one up on the wall, you know you’re dealing with a business that your neighbours think is a good business. That’s a huge validation for a lot of these businesses. There’s some people who consistently win, year after year, and kudos to them obviously they’re doing something right and the public appreciates it.”
Best of the Best is constantly evolving from previous years with new categories and areas of consideration added annually.
“Every time I think we’ve gone as far as I think we can go in terms of participation, we beat it,” said Hancock. “Year after year after year, it grows. There were a few new categories, and that’s driven by the readers. In November we post a list of the previous year’s categories, and all of the businesses in those categories, and we ask people to look at it, suggest some new names if there’s some new businesses that should fit into a category, or if there’s a whole new genre or category we should add. So we’re always growing the contest.”
More than anything, Hancock stressed, the competition is about trying to keep local dollars circulating in a closed loop in Lethbridge that ultimately benefits all businesses in the community.
“It’s a celebration of local businesses. This is Lethbridge, how do they stack up against, but more importantly these are businesses that are being supported, should be supported, and you can get behind them and keep it local. I can’t stress enough, this contest is all about local. When you support one of these businesses you’re supporting your neighbour. You’re keeping the dollars in Lethbridge. Those dollars are then re-spent in Lethbridge.”

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