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Chamber Honors 'Best of Manhattan'

Oct 18, 2019 01:21PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce "Best of Manhattan" awards came back in style on Thursday night at the Westdrift Hotel. A crowd of nearly 500 came to honor the "best of the best" in local business and community leadership.

"Love, love, love this community," said Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers. "What a village we have here." Skechers took home the top award in the "Best of Manhattan" and the "Pay It Forward" award categories, while the Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk won in the "Affair to Remember" category.

The popular awards have returned after a two-year hiatus. There are 15 categories; 13 of which come from nominations and voting by the public. When voting opened in the 13 categories in September, the chamber received more than 2200 nominations. After the four finalists in each category were announced, more than 6200 total votes came in. 

Winners in the 13 popular vote categories were as follows: 

Woman-Owned Business: Tabula Rasa Essentials
Shop MB: pages: a bookstore
Small & Mighty: GROW
Home Sweet Home: Palm Realty Boutique
Eco-Friendly Award: Shade Hotel
Healthy Living: Yoga Loft
Who Called the Doctor: Torrance Memorial Urgent Care
Show Me the Money: Chase Bank - Downtown Manhattan Beach
Dine MB: The Strand House
Affair to Remember: Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk
Making a Difference: Manhattan Beach Education Foundation
Pay It Forward: Skechers
Best of Manhattan: Skechers

GROW owner Barry Fisher said that this year's award was particularly meaningful to his independent grocery store, which has faced several new competitors in the last year. 

"We actually almost closed our doors in June," he said. "But we've been bouncing back, and that's because of this community."

Skechers had previously won the Best of Manhattan Award in 2014, 2016, and 2017.

"The town of Manhattan Beach has been an indelible part of Skechers' story, ever since we started in one of its beach houses," said Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers, in a statement. "For more than a quarter century, this has been our home: it's where we launched our business in 1992 and had our first retail store in '94. As we've grown into a global brand, this community has been at our core, and we're honored to give back... We're constantly grateful for Manhattan Beach's support and we're inspired to find new ways to pay it forward."

Meistrell Legend Award and Chamber Member of the Year Award

Two additional awards - the Bob Meistrell Local Legend Award and the Chamber Member of the Year Award - were selected by the chamber. The Meistrell award was selected by the Best of Manhattan Committee, which is comprised of 15 chamber members. The Member of the Year award was selected by the chamber's board of directors. 

The Bob Meistrell Local Legend Award was give to disability activist and entrepreneur Janne Kouri. Kouri was paralyzed in a beach accident in Manhattan Beach in 2006. He has since founded NextStep, a non-profit that makes rehab and fitness accessible and affordable to individuals living with paralysis. NextStep's paralysis recovery centers are now located across the U.S. and internationally.

Kouri made international news earlier this year when he embarked on and completed a "Ride for Paralysis" to raise funds and awareness for people living with paralysis. He rode his electric wheelchair and a specialized electric bike across the country from Manhattan Beach to Washington, D.C.

"When I broke my neck 13 years ago, this community stepped up more than you can imagine," he said. "It's the people that make this place so amazing."

The Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year award went to Lilly Swardstrom of PixelFish. Swardstrom thanked members for the award and then turned to Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Kelly Stroman, who assumed the post at the beginning of 2019. "This award needs to go to Kelly," she said. "We wouldn't be here today without you."

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