Established in 2005 by the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the awards highlight Bartow County's non-franchised restaurants, shops and attractions and are presented annually at The Arts Festival at Rose Lawn. Along with the Best Shoppe accolade, increasing exposure for her boutique in 2007, 2008 and 2009, Periwinkle owner Patty Richardson is delighted that the People's Choice Awards focus on local establishments.
"It means a lot to me that I'm doing something right and that I'm on the right track," said Richardson, whose boutique at 24 E. Church St. in Cartersville features eclectic items such as jewelry and clothing. "That helps me a lot but it means a lot [for the CVB] to do the People's Choice Awards to bring it to the forefront of people's minds to shop locally. It's just one tool in doing a lot of different things that we all need to do and that we are all doing as a downtown to be in the forefront of [people's] minds.
"I am always preaching that if you want us to be here you have to shop with us and everyone wants us to be here. Nobody wants to see a dead downtown. So I think the People's Choice Awards and everything the [Cartersville Downtown Development Authority] does and all of us together as businesses, the things that we do, hopefully will keep this town thriving and not let the big box stores take over and cause our town to shut down. So the People's Choice Awards is a big part of that."
Individuals currently can vote for their favorites on the CVB's website, www.notatlanta.org, through midnight on Labor Day, Sept. 6. Only one vote can be cast per computer.
"Primarily it's a way of recognizing the individual entrepreneurs out there," said Ellen Archer, executive director for the local CVB, adding the contest drew at least 2,000 online votes in 2009. "We don't consider chains because those private shop owners and restaurateurs are what tourists love. So it's a way to recognize and publicize."
The winners of the survey will be revealed at The Arts Festival at Rose Lawn, 224 W. Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville, Sept. 18, at noon. The accolades will accompany the CVB's sixth Hospitality Heroes Awards, which recognize instrumental current or former residents of Bartow County. While the People's Choice Awards are voted on by the public, the Hospitality Heroes are nominated by various organizations, with the victors selected by the CVB board of directors.
For more information about the awards, call 770-387-1357.