Arlington, VA

With running retailer Pacers shutting down its brick-and-mortar stores due to the coronavirus pandemic, the regional chain has shifted its focus to newly-launched virtual fittings.

Like many other video conferences being scheduled for those working from home, virtual fittings are being conducted via Zoom. The customer books an appointment online then joins a one-on-one call with someone from Pacers, who walks them through the sizing and gives the customer some shoe recommendations based on their needs.

The shoes are then ordered online and sent to the house, but can be returned for a full refund.

“This has been incredibly popular,” Pacers CEO Kathy Dalby told ARLnow. “We booked almost 100% — over 50 appointments the first week — within 72 hours of launching. We had 100 scheduled as of this morning.”

Dalby said the company is aiming to increase its capacity for virtual fittings over the next few days. A chat feature on the website has also proven popular for the online store. Dalby credited much of that to outdoor running being one of the few allowable, socially-distanced exercises left and a popular form of stress relief.

“Our online sales have increased 10 fold, as has the option for people to have their product shipped or picked up curbside at select locations,” Dalby said.

Still, Dalby admitted the closure of the physical stores in mid-March hurt the company as closures throughout the region has severely impacted other local retail.

“We certainly saw a large dip the first week when the world was just trying to figure out what was going on,” Dalby said. “Spring is a big season for us so it certainly stings but we saw sales double from the first week of closure to last week as we mobilized our team and rolled out virtual fit options and promotion of our online shop. While the closures are incredibly difficult for all small businesses we are hanging in there and staying positive.”

Dalby said the crisis put pressure on the Pacers team to respond quickly. Virtual fittings, for example, went from concept to market in eight days.

“Normally a product like that would take 3-4 months to develop and test,” Dalby said. “We are design testing it on the fly making edits as we go. Finding these new ways to communicate with our customers will have staying power past COVID-19 for sure.”

The other side of Pacers is as an organizer of local races, like the now-postponed Crystal City 5K Fridays. All races have been put on hold for now.

“April is our biggest month for events constituting about 65% of our event revenue for the year,” Dalby said. “Through amazing partnerships… we have been able to pivot and reschedule a good number of events. We will certainly see a dramatic decrease in revenue for this year but are working now with many of our client events to help them find new dates in the fall.

“This will change the landscape of events,” she added. “We are working with other race producers across the country to mold what the future will look like.”

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Editor’s note: In lieu of Chris Slatt’s Modern Mobility column today, ARLnow is running an edited version of a press release issued today by the small, Arlington-based business he and his wife run.

Perfect Pointe Music & Dance Studios, with locations in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center in North Arlington and the Saratoga Shopping Center in Springfield/Fort Belvoir has acted quickly to respond to the needs of its community amidst COVID-19 closures and concerns, moving all of its over 250 weekly classes, lessons and rehearsals to an online platform, plus offering bonus content to keep students and families active and engaged while social distancing, and offering full scholarships to those whose finances have been adversely affected by the crisis.

“Now more than ever, we know how important it is for us to offer our community the connections and positivity our studio is known for,” says founder and CEO, Kendra Slatt. “We all need some sense of normalcy and routine. The last thing we all want is for our children to play video games and watch YouTube all day, or to become depressed because of lack of social interactions, lack of goals, or lack of positive activities to look forward to. We need them to be active, use their mind and still interact socially with their peers. This is exactly what our online platform is providing during the closure of our physical location, and no students will be turned away due to inability to pay.”

  • The online platform uses private Zoom links to facilitate live classes with teachers and students on their normal weekly schedule.
  • In addition to weekly classes, students are encouraged to take advantage of bonus content, tailored to their specific age and level including coloring and activity sheets, dance history and nutrition lessons, recommended playlists, extra practice videos, and much more.
  • Community building activities and events like virtual dance parties, story times, social media challenges, photo sharing, parent meet-ups and more keep community relationships strong and morale up while maintaining safe social distancing

Parent Feedback:

  • “THANK YOU Mr. Philip and all of our amazing dance teachers at Perfect Pointe Dance Studio, Arlington, VA for bringing rays of sunshine and at least part of our ‘normal’ routine into our living room during this unprecedented time of physical distancing! Your enthusiasm is infectious and the Zoom sessions are producing a lot of laughter along with the conditioning. So grateful for all of you! #LiveLoveDance #PerfectPointePride”
  • “You all are great! I really appreciate you working hard to keep the students moving. Katy is enjoying tuning in to her classes. Great job on pulling this all together.”
  • “I just want to thank you (and Mr. Chris) for so quickly switching classes to Zoom. And all the teachers for using it so well. It is amazing!!!! It has made this crazy (and scary) time so much better. Both kids love being able to take their classes. So it’s trifold — exercise, regular routine and social.   Such a wonderful way to stay connected to our dance family. I can’t say enough positive things. Thank you!!!”

Perfect Pointe Dance Studio was founded in Arlington in 2007 and expanded to Springfield, adding music to its offerings in 2016. Throughout that time, they have become known as a leader in high-quality arts education with a strong focus on community and customer service, as well as health and positivity for their students, families and staff.

For more information, see Perfect Pointe’s website or its Facebook and Instagram pages.

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The death of Bracket Room in Clarendon, as announced by Bracket Room itself, was greatly exaggerated.

The briefly-closed sports bar is back open and offering takeout cuisine, according to a new Instagram post on Monday. The post comes less than a week after a now-deleted post announcing Bracket Room’s permanent closure amid the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s unclear what prompted the reversal.

“With your continued support, hopefully we can stay open and push through this crisis together,” the restaurant said. “We look forward to seeing you all come in and we can’t wait to get past this and back to normal.”

Bracket Room is not the only Arlington business to re-think a coronavirus closure. On Monday, local favorite The Italian Store reopened to business “in a limited capacity” after a week earlier deciding to close during the outbreak.

Starting Monday March 30th, The Italian Store will reopen for business at both locations in a limited capacity, and our…

Posted by The Italian Store on Friday, March 27, 2020

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The calendar turns to April tomorrow, after a momentous March.

There are only a few times in one’s life that you know for sure that you’re living through a boldface entry in the history books. The coronavirus outbreak and the resulting disruption of much of the economy and daily life is one of those times.

We compiled some of the photos readers and our intrepid staff photographer, Jay Westcott, have taken around town over the past couple of weeks. The images are those of isolation and disruption, but also hope and those trying to make the most of a bad situation.

Here’s how Jay described his observations from out and about in Arlington:

A typical morning rush hour in Rosslyn is a cacophony of sight and sound. Whistles shriek as ACPD directs traffic and pedestrians at Wilson and Lynn. Jets departing and arriving to DCA reflect and reverberate off the tall glass towers. Construction up the hill at 1500 Wilson. Traffic. Pedestrians. Metrobuses. 

Not anymore. 

Monday, Mar. 16 was the first work day after the region began teleworking in earnest and schools were closed. The intersection of Wilson and Lynn felt like the opening scene to the movie “I Am Legend.” In an hour’s time I saw less than 10 pedestrians. To call this surreal is an understatement. 

But that was the first morning. As the weather has warmed, people are venturing out more and more, and people are being really cavalier about social distancing. This is not a time for picnics in the park or group bike rides. And people don’t seem to realize how far six feet actually is. Sure, you may be six feet behind someone ahead of you on the trail, but people coming at you from the other way are passing within a foot of you. You have to remember this virus can live in the air for 3 hours. You can’t bump into people, you can’t try to squeeze past someone in the grocery store. You have to actively pay attention to your surroundings and people just don’t seem to be doing that. 

Around Arlington, rush hour seems to be non-existent. Don’t get me wrong, people are still out driving around, but from what I have been seeing traffic at 8:30 a.m. is no different than traffic at 1 p.m. or 6 p.m. From my place in Shirlington to the Key Bridge takes less than 15 minutes. I can’t help but imagine what it would be like if the majority of people that can do so continue working from home as much as possible after this pandemic has been contained. 

Seeing the COVID-19 test site open up on Quincy St. N was both welcome and frightening. 60 tests a day. 60. That is a lot, right? Is it enough? 

I am encouraged to see businesses find new and creative ways to continue operating through this, like Acme Pie and El Pollo Rico offering delivery. I had El Pollo Rico last week and if there was ever a comfort food to have in a time like this, it’s their amazing chicken. 

I hope my fellow Arlingtonians take this seriously. I have a friend in Colorado that has COVID-19. He flew through Seattle for work at the end of February and likely picked it up there. He’s now two weeks into the illness. His fever hit 103 last week, and he went to the ER on Friday with pneumonia-like symptoms. He is retired military, physically fit and it’s wiped him out. Before the ER trip he was in bed for three days straight. “It’s no joke,” he said. 

Please, stay safe. Stay home. Stay away from people.

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(Updated at noon) Arlington County is encouraging residents to open a window or step outside and give healthcare workers a round of applause tonight.

The 8 p.m. clap is part of a worldwide phenomenon that has seen cities echo with the sound of cheers, in support of those on the frontlines of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. It also coincides with National Doctors’ Day.

“Join your fellow Arlingtonians in a salute to our healthcare workers during this challenging time,” the county said in a social media post. “You can clap from your yard, your window, your balcony, or your car.”

Here’s what similar cheers have sounded like in cities around the globe:

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Green Pig Bistro in Clarendon was among the restaurants that pivoted to curbside carryout after closing its dining room on March 16 amid the coronavirus outbreak.

That was a week before Gov. Ralph Northam officially ordered restaurants to stop dine-in service, in an effort to slow the spread of the highly-contagious virus.

But now Green Pig is closing temporarily because, it says, “one of our team members is exhibiting some early signs of COVID-19.”

“That person has been tested but until we know the results, and out of an abundance of caution, we will be closed until further notice,” the acclaimed restaurant said via Instagram on Sunday.

Recent Green Pig customers should take heart that thus far, experts have been saying there is very low to no of risk of virus transmission via food or food packaging.

“Thank you for your business, support and love,” wrote the restaurant, which first opened in 2012. “Please take care, be well, be safe and be kind.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-U6rMDhWDy/

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ARLnow is continuing a series of articles to highlight the local businesses that advertise with us and help keep the community informed during these trying times.

Tonight we’re recognizing Dominion Floors, which remains open and serving customers, while taking all the proper precautions.

You know what you can’t shelter in place at home without? Floors. In fact, a house is not even habitable without some form of flooring. And it’s a bit less habitable without good flooring — the non-squeaking, non-worn-down kind.

The good news is that Dominion Floors knows floors. It’s in the name. It’s what they do.

So if you are spending every waking hour at home and are experiencing a dawning realization that your floors need to be replaced, they’re the people to call (at 703-536-4116) or email. They have a showroom at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center that currently has very limited weekday hours, or you can just check out their website and request a free estimate.

Dominion Floors is an Arlington institution (since 1968) that supports your favorite Arlington local news website. Please give them a look if you’re in the market.

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Farmers markets in Arlington closed briefly by the coronavirus outbreak will be allowed to re-open this weekend, but with a catch: vendors can only offer food that’s been pre-ordered before the market.

The new rules are meant to bring local farmers markets in compliance with guidance from the state government. A similar policy was enacted for markets in Alexandria.

“To limit the exposure to COVID-19, vendors are not permitted to display food or on-site shopping,” Arlington County said in a press release. “This guidance enables markets to remain open giving Arlingtonians access to fresh, locally-grown food while promoting social distancing.”

While others will be opening later this spring, three Arlington farmers markets are currently in season and expected to reopen for order pickups:

Each of the markets will be limited to no more than ten customers at a time, and customers are being asked to comply with social distancing guidelines to prevent the person-to-person spread of the virus. Food orders will be boxed and the press release said customers are asked to avoid touching or inspecting their orders on-site.

Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said that some of the vendors have options to place orders online, while others might have to be contacted directly by phone or email. While the process may be cumbersome for the first weekend, Kalish said that should be ironed out over the coming weeks.

The Columbia Pike Farmers Market announced today that it will be taking online orders for three vendors.

“To ensure we can continue to support our local farmers and provide the community with needed produce and goods while complying with state-wide guidance on distancing and gathering restrictions, we have temporarily moved our Farmers Market to the web,” said the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. “Customers will now order from our vendors online and pick up their orders at the market on Sundays. We currently have 3 vendors prepared to take orders for pick-up THIS Sunday, March 29. Please note that orders MUST be placed in advance, unless otherwise noted. There will be no shopping at the market.”

The nearby Falls Church farmers market is also reopening this weekend with similar rules in place.

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A week ago, we leveled with you: a deterioration in the advertising business is putting ARLnow in a tough spot.

Tonight we’re happy to say that readers have answered our call for temporary support and provided a meaningful level of donations via Paypal and monthly pledges via Patreon.

We are humbled by the response from the community and promise to put your contributions to good use, providing vital, up-to-the-minute information during this crisis, telling stories that need to be told, and finding ways to support local businesses.

To that end, tonight we’re announcing a new initiative to help small local businesses reach potential customers during the outbreak. Effective immediately, all community posts on the site will be free to locally-owned small businesses in Arlington.

To get the word out about things your business is doing to serve the community during the coronavirus outbreak, submit a short post here for publication. We hope it helps keep readers informed and businesses afloat during this tough time.

(Other forms of advertising and sponsored content remains a paid service — we need to keep the lights on!)

From our overworked and home-bound staff, thank you to every one of our donors. And if you have the means to donate a few bucks a month but haven’t done so yet, we hope you’ll consider joining them — every little bit counts and we can still use the help.

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Bracket Room, a sports bar in Clarendon co-owned by Chris Bukowski of Bachelor fame, is the latest victim of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Due to the national crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with a heavy heart that Bracket Room in Arlington has decided to close its doors,” the restaurant said on Instagram Tuesday afternoon. “We want to sincerely thank all of our patrons and employees for all their support over the years. We are going to miss each and every one of you.”

The bar opened in the fall of 2013, offering a “higher-end, ‘female-friendly’ experience.” Located at 1210 N. Garfield Street, Bracket Room closed a week ago, after a weekend St. Patrick’s Day celebration, for everything other than take-out and delivery.

In today’s Instagram post, Bracket Room promised to honor its earlier promotion to refund all receipts since November if the Washington Nationals win the World Series again this year.

ARLnow’s list of other Arlington restaurants offering delivery and takeout can be found here.

View this post on Instagram

Due to the National crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with a heavy heart that Bracket Room in Arlington has decided to close its doors. We want to sincerely thank all of our patrons and employees for all their support over the years. We are going to miss each and every one of you. Our promotion of reimbursement of every purchase if the Nationals win the World Series is still in effect. If the Nationals are lucky enough to win the 2021 World Series and you have all your receipts, we will honor it. Please contact one of our owners, Jeff Greenberg, at 703-307-9600, and he will personally make sure you get your refunds. It’s been a wonderful few years, please everyone stay healthy & stay safe!

A post shared by Bracket Room (@bracketroomva) on

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Last year Acme Pie Company on Columbia Pike went from pie wholesaler to restaurant. Now it’s becoming a delivery business as well.

With restaurants ordered closed to dine-in customers by Gov. Ralph Northam today, Virginia is now a takeout- and delivery-only zone. And that means big changes — and major hardship — for many Arlington restaurants and food businesses.

Acme, like other restaurants, has gotten creative to provide meals to those sheltering in place in their homes. It’s offering a “COVID-19 special,” with 1 quart of soup, fresh baked bread, and a 7-inch pie delivered to homes in Arlington County for $20. Tuesday’s deliveries are already sold out, owner Sol Schott said on Acme’s Facebook page.

“‘The Acme Soup Line’ experiment has been wildly successful!” said Schott. “I had no idea there would be so much demand. I hope this in some small way will help you all through this scary time.”

Acme is one of more than 150 Arlington restaurants ARLnow has checked in on over the past week, to compile the following COVID-19 Local Restaurant Status list. The Google Sheet includes information on whether a restaurant is open and providing deliveries and/or carry out.

Ordering delivery and takeout is the most tangible way to support these local businesses during trying times, but it is not a long-term sustainable solution for for many restaurants, particularly those that rely on bar sales from dine-in customers. Kevin Tien of Ballston’s Hot Lola told the Washington City Paper that one of his D.C. restaurants is “doing 2.5 times the normal amount of work for a quarter amount of original sales.”

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