SouthtownStar readers choose their favorites across the newspaper's three regions

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If you’re going to spend money in these tough economic times, you might as well spend it wisely. That means getting bang for the buck by buying quality. To do so, shoppers need to know what’s considered top-notch when it comes to food, clothing, grooming, various services, being entertained — you name it.

Well those looking for such knowledge have come to the right place.

Welcome once again to the SouthtownStar Best of Chicago’s Southland, a listing that will answer all you need to know about what’s considered the best products and services, encompassing about 70 categories, in Chicago’s Southland.

The SouthtownStar has put it all together by prompting readers to let us know their favorite places to find flowers, pick up pet supplies, chow down on the tastiest chicken, shoot a round of golf, or root on their teams at the hottest sport bars — along with dozens of other categories. Readers once again have responded in a big way. Ballots cut out from the SouthtownStar or done online have kept the SouthtownStar staff busy figuring out the winners. Now it’s time for readers to find out who they and their neighbors like best.

This popular contest has been going on for more than 15 years and continues to be of great interest to SouthtownStar readers, according to the SouthtownStar’s advertising manager John Doolin.

“All the feedback we receive year after year is positive and all businesses look forward to the results,” Doolin said.

Doolin sees the promotional contest as a win-win situation for SouthtownStar readers as well as for the businesses in the newspaper’s region.

“The ‘Best of’ lets readers cast a vote for their favorite in 70 different categories, and (the section in the SouthtownStar) lets businesses reach out to their customers — our readers — and showcase their goods and or services,” he said.

Several businesses have been the choice of readers for nearly as long as the contest has been around, while some others got the taste of victory for the first time this year. Among the 2012 winners that have been named in multiple “Best of” contests are Walt’s Food Centers, Glenwood Oaks Rib and Chop House, and State Farm.

“We’re extremely proud of being named in ‘Best of Chicago’s Southland’ 17 years in a row,” said Jeff Arseneau, south regional manager for State Farm. Arseneau credited the 130 Southland State Farm agents for the company’s success in impressing readers.

“They’re fixated on taking care of the customer. We insure one of every four cars in the Southland region. That tells you something about how people in the area value our customer service. State Farm is also involved heavily in the community, sponsoring everything from Little League to community theater,” Arseneau said.

In addition to being listed in this special section, those named in the contest receive a framed certificate and a window cling proclaiming them winners in the “SouthtownStar Best of Chicago’s Southland - 2012” to place at their business location.

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to all the SouthtownStar readers who participated by casting their votes.