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Local women’s clothing store Malena Boutique, a longtime Arlington staple, has opened an online shop to reach more customers.

Store manager Andrea Cecchi said she started developing the online presence when Malena — which has been in business for four decades — had to close its Courthouse storefront last spring during the first wave of COVID-19 shutdowns.

“We’re very excited to offer this convenience to our customers, who can either pick up curbside or have us deliver,” Cecchi said. “Our existing customers already love this new service, and the new clothing lines we’ve added recently are also bringing new customers into the store.”

Cecchi had been considering online sales pre-pandemic to attract new, younger customers. She got to work when she could not keep the boutique open to in-person customers.

“We had no business during the more than three months we were closed, [so] we opened back up offering our customers pickup and delivery service, which evolved into our online store,” Cecchi said.

The store manager said it is hard to gauge the impact COVID-19 had on Malena because the boutique went through another big change six months before. After 40 years of business, Malena moved from Rosslyn Metro Mall to Courthouse in October 2019.

It had to close from March until last summer, Cecchi said.

“We reopened to very little foot traffic, which continues to this day,” she said. “We do still have many repeat customers from our previous location, but traffic to the store has been pretty light.”

The boutique offers a collection of women’s clothing from smaller designers such as Weavz, Parsley and Sage and Lost + Wander. All items that are in-store are also on its new website.

This new option for customers will not affect the physical store’s hours or supplies, Cecchi said.

Malena Boutique is located at 2111 Wilson Blvd and is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

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When the COVID-19 began to shut down the world, Arlington resident Allegra Jabo was one of many who spent their newfound time working on puzzles.

“When everything first shut down for the pandemic and we were all inside waiting for the few weeks to be over, we started working on the puzzle we had bought for our canceled beach trip,” said Jabo.

As time progressed, people began finishing their puzzles and were looking for new ones. Jabo was one of these people, despite being in a small group of enthusiasts who had been swapping puzzles — so she decided to go bigger.

Jabo owns a business called The Science Seed, which offers a program designed to introduce science to preschool and early elementary school children. Before the pandemic, she was using the entryway of her home as a swap spot for her business. When her business shut down, along with schools, Jabo decided to turn her entryway into a swap spot for puzzles.

She called it the Douglas Park Little Free Puzzle Library, similar to the Little Free Book Libraries seen around Arlington and the rest of the country.

“At first, I was worried about maintaining our puzzle supply as we became more popular, but with so many people having time on their hands to clean out their houses, we continue to receive lots of donations,” said Jabo. There are now over 300 puzzles at Jabo’s house — all donations from other residents — and donations are still being accepted.

“To donate, [people] can drop off in the drop-off corner of our entryway,” said Jabo. “If they know of any missing pieces, they can put a Post-It on the box to let me know so I can add that information to the library note taped to the box.”

As the pandemic wanes and more things reopen, Jabo’s business will need her entryway back so she’s been looking for a new place to move the puzzle library.

“I do not plan on simply abandoning the library,” said Jabo. “I am actively working on finding a permanent home for the library and hope to move it into a community center or library branch.”

She said the experience of running the puzzle library has been both rewarding and surprising.

“The library’s success has been a surprise, and the many notes of gratitude I get online and in Post-It form have been truly lovely to receive during this crazy year,” said Jabo. “A woman visiting the other day told me the library has been her favorite part of the pandemic. It has been very rewarding and I’m grateful I’ve been able to do something seemingly so small to bring a little joy to puzzlers during this time.”

The Douglas Park Little Free Puzzle Library can be found at 1706 S. Lowell Street and is open 24/7 for puzzlers of all ages. More information and updates can be found on its Facebook page.

Photo courtesy Allegra Jabo

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In two weeks, Arlington County Police Department will hold its second-ever Fill the Cruiser Food Drive to support the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

The first Fill the Cruiser food drive kicked off last summer in response to the growing number of people struggling to put food on the table during the pandemic. That effort yielded 6,509 pounds of donated food. The next is now planned for Tuesday, May 18.

“We saw firsthand the growing need for food assistance and recognize this need remains high due to the ongoing economic impacts of the pandemic,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said. “Through generous community donations, we can assist the Arlington Food Assistance Center as they continue their mission of feeding our neighbors in need by providing dignified access to nutritious supplemental groceries.” 

Outside of the food drive, officers have also assisted community organizations with bagging and distributing grocery items, Savage said.

AFAC has seen a significant increase in the number of families it serves — a 33% increase in the first few months of the pandemic, according to the organization’s website. Amid the surge in need, however, the nonprofit has reported fewer donations from grocery stores and leaner volunteer ranks.

More on the Fill the Cruiser food drive from ACPD:

The Community Resources Section will be collecting items at drive-thru donation stations on Tuesday, May 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at three locations:

  • Giant Food – 2901 S. Glebe Road
  • Safeway – 3713 Lee Highway
  • Westover Baptist Church – 1125 Patrick Henry Drive

Upon arrival, donors should stay in their car until they reach the unloading areas, where officers will be on hand to remove donations from their vehicle. A separate area will be available for those arriving by bike or foot. All donors are expected to observe proper social distancing guidelines and wear a face covering while dropping off donations.

Suggested Items for Donation

AFAC accepts most unopened, unexpired, and unprepared foods, including perishable items. AFAC is most in need of the following low sodium, low fat and low sugar items:

  • Low sodium canned tomatoes
  • Low sodium canned tuna
  • Low sodium canned soups
  • Canned vegetables
  • Peanut butter (in plastic jars)
  • Low sugar cereal

Those wishing to donate, but unable to attend the Fill the Cruiser events should visit AFAC’s website to find a donation drop-off site near them.

Photo via Arlington County Police Department

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Many Arlington residents seem to be in the market for new furniture, according to Google Trends.

Perhaps after more than a year of sitting at home during the pandemic, your chairs are getting squeaky or your table is getting scratched. Whatever the reason, ARLnow averaged online rankings of every furniture store in Arlington and within two miles of the county on this side of the Potomac.

Our rankings are below.

1..Casa Furniture (5013 Columbia Pike) — 4.9 out of 5 stars

2. Gala Futons and Furniture (2622 N. Pershing Drive) — 4.65 out of 5 stars

3. Oriental Rosewood Imports Furniture (4050 Lee Highway) — 4.5 out of 5 stars

4. Hardwood Artisans (2800 S. Randolph Street) — 4.45 out of 5 stars

5. Lovesac (1100 S. Hayes Street) — 4.4 out of 5 stars

T-6. Furniture Max (6250 Seven Corners Center) – 4.05 out of 5 stars

T-6. Ethan Allen (2900 Wilson Blvd, Suite 102) – 4.05 out of 5 stars

8. Crate & Barrel Outlet (1700 Prince Way) — 3.8 out of 5 stars

9. Sweet Home Furniture (3501 S. Jefferson Street) — 3.6 out of 5 stars

10. Crate & Barrel (2800 Clarendon Blvd) — 3.5 out of 5 stars

11. Macy’s (1000 S. Hayes Street) — 3.4 out of 5 stars

12. Bob’s Discount Furniture (5845 Leesburg Pike) — 3.3 out of 5 stars

13. Value City Furniture (5516 Leesburg Pike) — 3.2 out of 5 stars

14. Pottery Barn (2700 Clarendon Blvd) — 3.15 out of 5 stars

T-15. Macy’s (685 N. Glebe Road) — 3 out of 5 stars

T-15. West Elm (925 N. Saint Asaph Street) — 3 out of 5 stars

17. Ashley HomeStore (5871 Crossroads Way) — 2.95 out of 5 stars

Photo via Furniture Max/Facebook

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What’s better than celebrating a birthday? Celebrating a dog’s birthday, of course.

Walter the Bernese Mountain Dog is turning 4 and his parents are inviting all dogs and their humans (and pet-less people) to celebrate with them.

Walter has lived in Arlington since the fall of 2019 with his dog parents, Nick and Kayti Goebel. Now “135 pounds of pure muscle” as Nick likes to say, Walter has become a local celebrity. While walking around Clarendon and going to local restaurants with his parents, Walter attracts lots of attention.

“It’s amazing how people stop us to meet and pet Walter,” said Nick. “He gets a lot of attention and love.”

One day while they were sitting at one of their favorite local restaurants, the staff persuaded Nick and Kayti to make Walter an Instagram account. After leaving the restaurant, they met a writer from The Dogist, a website and social media account dedicated to pictures and stories of dogs around the world. The writer asked to take some photos of Walter and posted them to their 3.9 million followers on Instagram, tagging Walter’s new account.

In the first 24 hours of Walter’s account, he had 2,000 followers.

Now his account is up to nearly 4,800 followers. Nick and Kayti asked his Instagram followers if anyone in Arlington would want to celebrate Walter’s 4th birthday with them and they got lots of interest.

This Sunday, April 25, from 3-5 p.m. at The The Pinemoor in Clarendon (1101 N. Highland Street), the couple will be celebrating on the back deck and welcoming any humans and dogs to come party with them.

There will be Walter-inspired cocktails and a raffle items, the proceeds of which will go to the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation.

“With so many people wanting to attend, we saw an opportunity to do some good,” said Kayti. “So we reached out to the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation to see if they would like us to turn the party into a fundraiser.”

There is a sizable crowd expected, but the back patio is limited to 50 people so the couple encourages people to come early in order to celebrate and see Walter on his big day.

Photos via @this.is.walters.world/Instagram

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A pop-up outdoor office is returning to Gateway Park this spring.

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District is bringing back its Outdoor Office, or O2, which the BID set up for the first time last October as a pandemic-era neighborhood amenity.

O2 is scheduled to open next Tuesday, April 13 and will remain active through June 11.

More than 20 socially-distanced workstations are being set up in the outdoor office this season as a part of “Rosslyn Refresh,” a campaign by the BID to get people outdoors and enjoying spring safely. The space is equipped with power outlets, free Wi-Fi, easels, whiteboards and other office essentials.

“The free office space offers an inspiring atmosphere for employees looking to come back to the neighborhood or anyone in the DMV area needing a break from their home office routine,” the BID said in a press release. “O2 has everything you need to work safely outdoors and get back to blue-sky thinking.”

Closer to the outdoor office’s opening day, users will be able to reserve 90-minute blocks in advance online and can reserve consecutive time blocks if they would like to stay longer. O2 will also accept walk-ins if space is available and will provide blankets for people to sit on the grass if no slots are available.

Rosslyn Ambassadors, who keep Rosslyn’s streets clean and provide information, will sanitize the used stations between guests, according to a video (below).

O2 will initially be open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Beginning on May 1, it will also be open on Fridays.

Photo courtesy Rosslyn BID

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(Updated 4/5/21) The Arlington Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will be teaching people how to respond to life-threatening situations until help arrives.

Over the course of a free, 2.5-hour class, anyone who lives, works or volunteers in Arlington can learn skills such as how to stop severe bleeding and provide psychological first aid. The class, “Until Help Arrives,” is part of a national campaign to teach the public how to help during emergencies from car accidents to active shooter situations.

The next hands-on training course is Saturday, April 10 from 10 a.m.-noon at 1429 N. Quincy Street, a site the county had used for drive-thru and mobile COVID-19 testing. The next virtual training will be on Apr. 29 from 6:30-9 p.m.

There has been an uptick in interest during the pandemic, said Lucía Cortés, Engagement Liaison for the Arlington County Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management. That’s not to mention the recent spate of mass shootings in the United States.

“We’ve actually seen a significant increase in class interest over the past seven months, with enrollment increasing by 100% while increasing our class frequency to at least once per month,” Cortés said. “Over 160 people have attended our virtual trainings.”

Attendees will learn how to recognize violent activities, respond safely, provide immediate rescue tactics to the injured, and report them to 9-1-1, according to the county.

According to Until Help Arrives, the program emphasizes five steps for civilians to take during an emergency while waiting for medical assistance:

  1. Call 9-1-1
  2. Protect the injured from harm
  3. Stop any bleeding
  4. Position the victim so they can breathe
  5. Provide comfort

“The County’s CERT program was created in the wake of 9/11 by concerned residents wanting to assist their communities during emergencies,” Cortés said. “Since 2004, nearly 1,000 community members have completed ArlCERT training.”

CERT asks that interested people register to receive a link to the virtual event. Once registered, class attendees are asked to download the training materials and watch a prerequisite video.

Photo via Arlington County

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For the second year in a row, the pandemic is preventing the annual Easter sunrise service at Arlington National Cemetery from being an in-person event.

This year’s service, hosted by Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, will be live-streamed on Facebook starting at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, Apr. 4.

The event will be a Protestant service celebrated by Chaplain (Col.) Michael T. Shellman, Command Chaplain for the Joint Force Headquarters and Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Andrew R. Harewood, Deputy Chief of Chaplains for the Army Reserve.

“The Easter Sunrise Service supports military families and service members by providing spiritual enrichment and supports the joint base command’s mission to provide for the free exercise of religion in the military,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Scott Kennaugh, Deputy Chaplain at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, in a statement.

To comply with COVID-19 guidelines and keep the number of people at the service as low as possible, a brass quartet and four vocalists from the U.S. Army Band will be on-site along with a sign language interpreter.

In case of inclement weather, the service will be live-streamed from the joint base’s Memorial Chapel, also in Arlington. 

A Facebook account is not required to view the event.

Photo by Tim1965

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(Updated 4:30 p.m.) For National Walking Day on Wednesday, April 7, locals are being encouraged to explore Arlington on foot.

Among the new options for doing so: a virtual scavenger hunt.

“Join us on a virtual hunt for hidden gems in your own neighborhood that you may not have known existed,” the county-run WalkArlington program said on its website.

The initiative from WalkArlington and Arlington Transportation Partners is virtual this year due to the coronavirus. Instead, the organizers have assembled resources for local residents, workers and visitors to take self-guided walking tours through any of the county’s 10 urban villages on National Walking Day — or any day, for that matter

“Walking in Arlington is inspiring, full of surprises, peaceful — like finding a gem,” WalkArlington said in a video, below.

Walkers can use an interactive map to find these gems, which include nature escapes, historical sites, local businesses and public art.

Participants will need to register to access the map. Those who register by Friday (March 26) will receive a free item in the mail, according to the registration page.

Photos via WalkArlington/YouTube

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A new fitness studio called SPENGA is set to open in Ballston in late April.

The studio at 4040 Fairfax Drive will teach a proprietary blend of spin, strength training and yoga — which are also blended together in the name “SPENGA.” The fitness brand has more than 300 franchise locations in operation or opening across the U.S.

“We are so excited to bring this amazing workout to my hometown of Arlington and to be a part of the incredible Ballston community,” said Sherry Ruffing, the owner of the forthcoming Ballston location.

The workout combines cardio, strength and flexibility to give clients 60 minutes of efficient, full-body workouts, according to the website.

“[SPENGA has] all of the burn with none of the burnout,” Ruffing said. “Not only will you transform your body, but you will join a network of like-minded, supportive friends. And no matter your fitness level, it’s you versus you.”

Ruffing is leaving her career in the aerospace industry and government relations after 30 years to introduce the boutique brand to the D.C. area.

She said she plans to open several studios across Northern Virginia, including two more in Arlington County, likely in Rosslyn and Pentagon City.

The studio, located on the ground floor of an office building two blocks away from the Ballston Metro station, will be open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Ruffing is offering a $50 discount to members who purchase unlimited monthly class plans before the gym opens.

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Camp Heat, which gives teens an inside look at the fire service, is back after a year off due to the coronavirus.

And this year, for the first time, the free camp — founded to encourage women to become firefighters — is open to all teens regardless of gender.

Twenty-four girls and boys ages 15 to 18 will have the chance to experience five days of what it takes to be an Arlington firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician.

To participate, teens must apply by May 1 and be accepted. The camp runs 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. from June 21-25.

According to the county, Camp Heat introduces teens to fire and EMT simulations and career opportunities as first responders, while teaching them life skills such as physical fitness, nutrition and CPR.

“The goal of the camp is to increase the participants’ confidence and empower them to consider entering physically challenging careers, such as the fire service, later in life,” the county website said.

As of 2018, at least three campers had applied or joined their local fire department.

Camp Heat was founded is to “empower young females through an introduction to the Fire and Emergency Medical Services.”

Nationwide, women are underrepresented in firefighting, comprising less than 10% of firefighters, according to the National Fire Protection Association. But it was an Arlington County firefighter named Judith “Judy” Brewer who blazed a trail for them when she was hired as the nation’s first female career firefighter in 1974.

This is the first year that the department has opened the program to all teens, ACFD spokesman Taylor Blunt confirmed.

With only 24 spots available, the application asks applicants to “take care in completing the application and provide thoughtful answers to the essay.”

“Applicants are expected to be responsible and demonstrate a self-starting attitude,” the application said. “Applicants must be… in good physical health in order to participate in the rigorous activities planned.”

Due to COVID-19, the campers will not be able to go inside the firehouse. Other safety precautions such as temperature checks and masks will be required as well.

Campers are required to provide their own blue pants, black belt, and safety boots/shoes.

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