Best of Sarasota 2018

Best New Shops and Services

Shop till you drop.

April 26, 2018

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Best Reason To Go Nautical: Vineyard Vines

Martha’s Vineyard-based brand Vineyard Vines has brought its preppy, East Coast-chic vibe to The Mall at University Town Center. Known for its whimsical ties and pink whale logo, the store proffers clothes and accessories for men, women and children in bright prints, stripes and plaids—think Lilly Pulitzer meets Brooks Brothers. Walking into the colorful, nautical-themed store, we get why its motto proclaims, “Every day should feel this good.” 

Best New Expansion: Bookstore1

Bookstore1’s handsome new downtown Sarasota digs (at 2,650 square feet it’s 900 square feet larger than the cubbyhole it formerly occupied) allow owner Georgia Court and her team to host way more books—18,000 volumes and counting—and more book club meetings and author events, too. (Come back soon, Stephen King!) 

Best New Bodega: Central Ave Express

We knew the Rosemary District had arrived when we saw Central Ave Express. Like its sister convenience store, Palm Ave Express, this bodega is way more than a place to pick up a bottle of water. You’ll find vegan and gluten-free goodies, fresh fruit, beer and wine, whole beans for fresh coffee, salads, stationery, greeting cards, pet supplies and even fuel injector fluid for your car. Tables out front and in back make it a nice place to meet a friend for coffee. 

Best New Fitness Club: LA Fitness, Westfield Siesta Key

Yes, we know, LA Fitness is a chain. But if you’re serious about fitness, the LA Fitness at Westfield Siesta Key delivers a knockout workout. With a variety of machines, free weights and endless cardio equipment—treadmills, bikes, ellipticals and stair climbers—you never have to wait, and the equipment is so new and smooth that your muscles feel the difference. A spin room, exercise class room, indoor pool and basketball court round out the offerings. 

Best New Reason To Splurge: Louis Vuitton

Handbag mavens and lovers of high-end accessories let out a collective squeal when it was announced that luxury retailer Louis Vuitton would open a pop-up in The Mall at University Town Center this year. The French company began as a trunk maker in 1854; today it makes luxury bags, shoes, jewelry and more. The UTC location is its first in our region. 

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