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Question. What are the dates for the nominations, voting, and winner announcements?

A. Businesses can self-nominate beginning in early January and continue to do so through the entire voting process. Readers vote from February 1 to May 1, and winners are announced in the August issue of Northshore, which publishes in July.

My business was on the ballot last year. Do I still need to nominate my business?

A. Yes, you will need to nominate your business. No businesses will automatically be on the ballot this year. Note: Although you self-nominate your business, readers still do the voting.

Q. How many subcategories can I self-nominate a business for?

A. Each business is allowed a total of 5 subcategories per nomination fee. This is to encourage quality and focus for both entrants and voters, as well as streamline and condense the ballot. You may submit for another 5 subcategories if you feel your business qualifies for others.

Q. Why is there a fee to self-nominate?

A. There is a $50 fee to formally register for the ballot. This fee covers the confirmation and quality control efforts for the Readers’ Choice ballot process, updates to the voting software, content publishing platforms, and streamlines the voting process. It is $50 to enter up to 5 subcategories. *If your organization is a non-profit, please contact us about waiving the nomination fee.

Q. What happened to the MINGLE and INDULGE categories?

A. We have modified the categories and subcategories based on the current business and social environment as a result of the pandemic. Some subcategories were changed and others eliminated. MINGLE and INDULGE were both removed, but many of the subcategories, such as Cake or Donut, were moved to other categories.

Q. What new subcategories are on this year’s ballot? Why was my subcategory removed?

A. For 2023, we have made some adjustments to a few subcategories. We have brought makeup back to the RENEW category. Homeopathic shop and a few others have been removed due to low voter interest or to make room for new subcategories. Some subcategory names have been altered (e.g. Juice Bar is now Juice/Smoothie) and some have been moved to new categories for clarity or because it is more appropriate (e.g. Personal Training moved from LIVE to RENEW). *If you have questions about a specific subcategory, please contact us.

Q. I nominated my business. How will I know when it is approved?

A. If for any reason your entry is not approved by our editorial team, we will contact you via email. Otherwise, once voting launches you will be able to see your company on the ballot.

Q. I nominated my business for 9 subcategories, but it is only appearing in 7 subcategories. Why is that? I nominated my business, but it was rejected. Why?

A. All entries are still subject to editorial approval. If, for example you select alfresco dining and have no patio, we reserve the right to remove the business from the ballot. If your business does not fit into a subcategory, is not a locally owned business, or isn’t located on the North Shore of Boston, it will not be added to the ballot. If you have specific questions about why your company was not added to a specific subcategory or to the ballot, please contact us.

Q. We have multiple locations. Can we list all the towns in the entry or no town?

A. All businesses with physical locations must list town. If your organization has multiple locations you can either select one location/town for the entry or submit a new entry for each location. We implemented this requirement several years ago to: 1. Help level the playing field for businesses of any size to participate and 2. Different locations have different employees, experiences, events, etc.

Q. If I choose not to self-nominate for a Readers’ Choice Award, does my business still qualify for an Editors’ Choice Award?

A. Yes. There is no fee to be considered for an Editors’ Choice Award.

Q. How did you select the businesses for the drop-down menu?

A. Businesses must self-register. New candidates will be added based upon editorial approval.

Q. How can I add my business to the drop-down list?

A: Once your business is submitted, it will be added to the drop-down during our next site update. All nominees require an admin fee and are subject to editorial approval. If when the ballot launches you do not see your business, please reach out and we will remedy the situation ASAP. If you submit a nomination after the launch date, please give our team 1-2 business days to add your company to the ballot.

Q: Why is there no “submit” button after I vote? How do I know my vote was counted?

A: All votes are automatically saved in the backend ballot system. You may change your vote at any time throughout the voting period. You will know what your vote in each category is because the icon will change from the red “Vote” button to the green “Voted!” button.

Q: Can I leave the survey and return later to complete it?

A: Yes, you may return to the survey at any time during the voting period to change your vote.

Q. If I exit the survey without saving, will my answers still be there?

A. Yes, votes are automatically saved in the ballot.

Q. Can I encourage my friends, family, patrons to vote for my business?

A. Yes, of course! Please share BONS voting via any of the social sharing tools on the voting page. We also have a BONS Resources page full of banner ads, logos, and social headers. But, please remember that you cannot buy votes by offering something in exchange for a vote. If you have any questions about how to campaign for votes, please email

Q. Do votes have to come from only people who live on the North Shore?

A. No, people can vote from anywhere in the world. Votes are not limited to only people currently residing on the North Shore.

Q. How are votes counted? Can I vote more than once for the same establishment?

A. Votes are tallied by the amount of unique votes each business receives. You are not allowed to vote for the same subcategory more than once.

Q. Why do I have to enter my email address to vote?

A. Our system requires a verifiable email address for each vote to ensure that all votes for each category are unique.

Q. What if I did not receive a confirmation email after I registered? 

A. Please check your SPAM filter or junk file. If you still do not have a confirmation, email us at from the email address you are trying to register.

Q. Why is subcategory ABC not included as a BONS category?

A. Each year subcategories change. To establish which categories are to be used for the current year, the BONS team looks at previous years’ votes and ongoing business trends. Unfortunately, when it comes to changing subcategories there is a limit to how many additional ones can be added. In addition, there are some subcategories our committee is not qualified to judge, including, but not limited to, financial advisor, real estate agent, medical professionals, and auto repair services.

Q. Can you add a subcategory this year? Next year?

A. Categories and subcategories cannot be changed or added this year, however the BONS team always takes suggestions into consideration. For example, this year we brought back Makeup.

Q. When will winners be announced?

A: Voting is open through May 1, 2023. Winners are announced in the BONS issue of Northshore magazine, which will mail out and appear on newsstands in late-July.

Q. What is the difference between Readers’ Choice and an Editors’ Choice Awards?

A. Readers’ Choice Awards are those establishments who receive the most votes via our open, online voting system. Editors’ Choices are selected by our internal team based on research and site visits.

Q. I commented on Facebook, Twitter, or on your website. Does that count as a vote?

A. No, only actual votes via the drop-down submission process will be counted, but we encourage comments so that other voters can see why you think your nominee is the Best of the North Shore!

Terms & Conditions:

– Only local nominees and winners: In the past, we have allowed regional or national chains to qualify as nominees. Beginning in 2015, only local organizations and locally owned franchises will be qualified nominees. If you have any questions about your business or organization’s eligibility, please contact us at

– Disqualification for buying votes: In the past, some establishments have traded votes for services or discounts. This is not allowed. If we see a marketing mailer, website ad, social media post, etc., that offers a discount or free service with proof of a vote, we will remove your organization from the nomination forms. No refunds will be issued for disqualified nominees.

– Individual locations: Businesses with multiple locations will be recognized by the specific location. For example, if a business has locations in Salem, Peabody, and Andover, each location will have its own nomination.

– Registration information: Your email is required to register to vote. These emails will not be distributed or sold to third-parties. We will contact you via this email for updates on BONS. If you opted-in for special emails, you will be added to those lists. You may unsubscribe at any time.