Best of Sarasota

Best of Sarasota 2021: Shopping and Services

New stores. New beauty treatments. New flights. Here's what our editors splurged on.

By The Editors May 3, 2021 Published in the May-June 2021 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Shops & Services

Best New Air Escape

We love that Southwest Airlines made its first flight into Sarasota Bradenton International Airport from Baltimore on Valentine’s Day, since it was a match we’ve all been waiting for for years. Besides Baltimore, Southwest is also offering nonstop flights to and from Nashville, Houston, Chicago, Dallas and Grand Rapids (plus seasonally from Pittsburgh and Indianapolis), meaning no more drives to Tampa to get those fares we’ve craved. 

Best New Bookstore

Barnes & Noble may be a chain, but we say “Hallelujah” to any new spot where we can browse books (as well as toys, games and vinyl). When the University Town Center’s 14,000-square-foot location opened last summer, customers were waiting in line. When we set foot inside, we breathed in a deep helping of new book smell and felt as at home there as in the longtime South Tamiami Trail location. 200 N. Cattlemen Road, (941) 554-0317,

Best New Special Delivery

During the pandemic, Sarasota mom Lisa Grabisch started an online gift box company called Happy & Humble, providing sustainable gift packages to friends and family. From corporate gatherings and holidays to house warmings and “thinking of you” gifts, Happy & Humble beautifully packages a variety of products like candles, specialty food and drinks, stationery and more, and delivers it to your door. These gifts are sure to make your loved ones smile. (941) 735-1237,

Best New Parrot Head Hotel

Jimmy Buffett made wasting away famous, and the Buffett-branded Margarita’s Compass Hotel Anna Maria Sound invites guests to do it in style and comfort. The waterfront restaurant, Floridays Woodfire Grill & Bar, has about 300 seats, 100 of them outside. Inside the six-story boutique hotel, each of the 123 rooms boasts a water view and nautical design elements marked by vibrant blues, bright whites and wood details to give your stay a Buffett-inspired resort feel. 12324 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, (941) 741-9700,

Best New Hope for Golfers

Club Champion Fitting Studio, a cavernous 3,000-square-foot shop, sells and builds custom clubs using big name brands like Titleist and Fujikura, and uses high-tech tools to analyze your swing and make it sing. If you don’t think you’re up to par for a custom fitting, think again; it’s said that amateurs see the biggest gains when they wield the right tools. 5275 University Parkway, Suite 110, Bradenton, (941) 216-144,

Best New Medical Marijuana Trend

Since Florida’s 2016 vote approving the use of medical marijuana, dispensaries have popped up like weeds. And now that edibles were OKed last August, THC-infused cookies, brownies and chocolate bars have plumped up dispensary menus. Trulieve, Florida’s largest medical marijuana provider, responsible for more than half the state’s medical marijuana volume, opened its 56th Florida location in Englewood, giving South County’s retirees a convenient high. Trulieve also has locations in Venice, Sarasota and Bradenton. 1720 S. McCall Road, Englewood, (941) 300-5496,

Best New Way to Smell Great

While most of us were busy making sourdoughor learning to knit, Bradenton native Kenzie Fisher used her time in quarantine to found Élu Parfums. Inspired by her travels to France, her perfume—which is blended and bottled in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world—is an ode to Provence and features notes of lavender, rose and warm woods. It’s a vacation in a bottle.

Best New Facial Treatment

Elizabeth Thomas, who owns Bradenton’s Pure Skincare by Elizabeth, is always on the cutting edge of what’s happening in skincare. Case in point: her new Qi beauty treatments. Using acupuncture techniques and tiny, gold-plated magnets (yes, magnets!), Qi treatments claim to stimulate collagen and elastin, lift brows and define the jawline. No lasers, no downtime. 4012 Cortez Road W., Suite 2204, Bradenton, (941) 448-0512, 

Best New Way to Get Framed

Warby Parker, the eyewear brand beloved by hipsters everywhere, opened a new store at The Mall at University Town Center in March. The light, bright store features the brand’s full range of trendy eyewear, including sunglasses and contact lenses, and comprehensive eye exams are available, too. 140 University Town Center Drive, Sarasota, (941) 822-9686,

Best New Relocation

Sarasota designer Camilyn Beth relocated from a tiny second-floor showroom on Palm Avenue to a bright and airy new space on the ground floor, allowing her feminine, classic pieces—including her signature dresses and colorful separates—to shine. She also carries accessories like earrings, handbags, scarves, candles and more. 75 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, (941) 313-2217,

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