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Readers' Choice winners say public vote is meaningful

MANCHESTER - What do a Bedford orthodontics office, a Salem amusement park and a Manchester florist all have in common?

Besides bringing smiles to people's faces, all three businesses are repeat winners of the New Hampshire Union Leader Readers' Choice awards.

Orthodontist Paul Johnson III, DMD, part of the Mehan & Johnson Orthodontics practice, said the best orthodontist award is posted in the office and on the practice's Facebook page.

"It really means a lot for our patients to vote for us as the top orthodontists in the area," Johnson said.

People cast more than 2,800 printed and online ballots this year - surpassing last year's total by more than 1,000 - to choose their favorite businesses in 182 categories ranging from American dining (winner: The Puritan Backroom in Manchester) to women's boutique (Alapage in Bedford).

Many advertisers are leveraging the honor in an effort to increase their sales.

"We're seeing an ever-growing number of businesses displaying their winner certificates, putting the logos on their own promotional products and putting their winner decal on their windows, too," said Nick Bolitho, chief revenue officer for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.

"Businesses are getting the boost as the logo signifies excellence from the eyes of their customers," Bolitho said.

Canobie Lake Park in Salem captured the best amusement center category for the second straight year.

"I think it's fantastic that through a public vote people select us as their favorite," said Chris Nicoli, the park's marketing and entertainment manager.

Thousands visit the 65-acre park every year to conquer the 85-plus rides, attractions, shows and games, he said.

"We love this property and am glad others do as well," Nicoli said.

Chalifour's Flowers repeated in the best wedding flowers category.

"First of all, we're very fortunate to be voted two years in a row," said manager Judy Pyszka. "It's a great honor because it's a readership poll."

The flower shop posted its award on a staircase wall.

The fave flowers to tie the knot?

"Roses are real strong" and blue hydrangeas also are popular, especially "blue because there's not many blue flowers out there," Pyszka said.The awards help readers search for places to eat, shop or find fun.

"The goal of the awards is to give our readers a chance to recognize excellence in the products or services provided by the businesses they frequent," Bolitho said. "It lets the business know they're doing a good job and that their customers appreciate them. It also serves as a sort of unbiased referral service. If you see a Readers' Choice decal on the door, you're going to be confident, that you'll get good products."

Johnson said the Readers' Choice award "is one of the bigger things that can happen in our practice."

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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