Like I noted a few months ago in "Is Statesman Journal Best of Mid-Valley contest really about 'best'," the only guaranteed winner in this annual event is... the Statesman Journal.
The biggest winner in the Best of the Mid-Valley contest has to be the Statesman Journal itself. The newspaper sells ads that appear with the category being voted on. Here's a few 2016 screenshots.
...A bit of Googling revealed that "Best of..." contests are a lucrative moneymaker for newspapers. Second Street, which the Statesman Journal is using for its Best of the Mid-Valley contest, talks about this in "How Record Journal Drove $40K in Ballot Promotion."
...I just want to point out that the Best of the Mid-Valley contest is first and foremost a profit center for the Statesman Journal. There's nothing wrong with this. We just need to remember that the winners aren't necessarily the "best" businesses and organizations; they're the ones who were able to generate the most votes.
So I don't take the results of the 2016 Best of the Mid-Valley Statesman Journal Media promotion as a guide to the highest quality restaurants, barber shops, facials, funeral homes, and such.
Rather, I thumbed through the thick insert in today's Sunday paper -- filled with lots of "Thank You for Voting Us!" ads -- looking for the quirky side of the voting results. Which are made more quirky by the fact that the Statesman Journal rules allow repeated daily votes by the same person:
Readers are permitted to vote in each category once per day. Businesses, institutions and schools may promote the contest in order to gain nominations and/or votes. Competitive advertising, special offers, campaigns are permitted; however, the Statesman Journal, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to exclude from the competition any businesses or individuals that engage in activities intended to "rig" or "fix" the voting process.
This leads to some intriguing results. For example:
Olive Garden getting bronze in Italian Food. As noted in my previous post, I recall Olive Garden winning Gold some years back. Now, I haven't been to Olive Garden for a long time. For a while I regularly ate there. Assuming nothing has changed, and probably nothing has, the fact that Olive Garden supposedly is Salem's third best Italian restaurant fills me with a mixture of culinary sadness and relief that the ratings don't mean much.
South Block Apartments claiming second is a win. Reminding me of some Republican presidential primary spin by certain candidates, a full page South Block Apartments ad on the second page of the newspaper insert has a Silver Winner medallion next to "Thank You for Voting Us Best Apartment Complex." Um, good try, but McNary Heights Apartments beat you. Kudos for clever advertising though, because the "... Best Apartment Complex" part of the ad is more noticeable than the "Silver Winner."
Capital Pawn winning gold in Outdoors Gear Store. OK, maybe I should check out this pawn shop on south Commercial next time I need some hiking shoes, a backpack, or whatever. I'm just surprised that Capital Pawn beat out REI (Bronze winner) and Salem Summit Company (didn't place). In 2015 Salem Summit Company got Gold, Capital Pawn got Silver, and REI got another Bronze. So what changed? Pretty clearly, not the stores, but how many people were drawn to vote for the nominees.
Keizer Station being proclaimed Best Shopping Center. Perhaps I should speak carefully here. But I don't feel like it! I view Keizer Station as the Devil's Spawn of shopping centers. It has to be the ugliest and worst-designed shopping monstrosity on the West Coast. Maybe the Universe. It is impossible to walk from store to store, leaving aside the fact that it is equally impossible to find the store you're looking for. If I need something that only Lowe's has, and the Keizer Station store is the only Lowe's that has it in stock, I will venture into Keizer Station for the briefest visit possible. Otherwise, I stay away.
Best Place to Treat Yourself is Bend's Pronghorn Resort. This is a 2016 Best of the Mid-Valley Staff Pick. Perplexing, since the last time I checked, Bend wasn't in the Mid-Valley. But I suspect advertising money is able to flow from the Pronghorn Resort checking account into the Statesman Journal Media account. Or maybe I'm being too cynical, and Statesman Journal Media staff just sincerely felt that the best place people in Salem should go to treat themselves is in central Oregon.
Burgerville is the Best Reason to Visit Monmouth/Independence. Um, but I'm a vegetarian. Is Burgerville really the best reason to visit these towns?
None of the Best Place to Take Out of Town Guests winners are in Salem. Gold: Silver Falls State Park in Sublimity. Silver: Willamette Valley Vineyards in Turner. Bronze: Brooks Winery in Amity. Well, it is often said (especially by me) that Salem is at the center of good places to visit to the north, south, east, and west. It just would be nice to have more of these places right in Salem.
Lastly, but not leastly... where the heck is the Best Pot Shop category? I searched online and came up with "no result." Geez, this is a horrible oversight. Next year, Statesman Journal Media, next year. It's a marijuana must.