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ACFD on Scene of Small Fire at Lee Highway Business

A small electrical fire broke out at a business on the 4700 block of Lee Highway this afternoon.

The fire was contained and quickly extinguished, but not before causing light smoke to fill the business. According to scanner traffic, the fire was at 4745 Lee Highway, which is home to the well-reviewed framing store KH Art & Framing.

As of 1:45 p.m., firefighters are working to ventilate the building and investigate the cause of the fire.

Drivers should expect temporary lane closures near the busy intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road.

Photo via Google Maps

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Lyon Park Gun Store Sales Steady Amid Gun Control Debate

(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) A gun store in Lyon Park is quietly doing steady business despite a roiling national debate over gun control policies.

Sales at NOVA Armory have not been affected by local and national protests for gun control in the past month, according to owner owner Shaun Poulin.

“It’s a small growth every couple months, but I don’t think we can correlate it to an event,” Poulin said.

Poulin said that the store hasn’t followed typical gun sale trends because, he believes, his focus is on community, not profit. The store has become a place for people of all backgrounds, including law enforcement officers and military personnel, to hang out.

“We’re not here to get rich off this. We’re here because we like it doing a service for people,” he said.

According to CNN there was a national uptick in background checks, which correlated to increased gun sales, during the Obama administration, but gun sales and corresponding background checks fell nationwide in 2017.

NOVA Armory’s sales, according to its owner, have held steady and haven’t followed national trends since it opened in 2016. That includes upticks in sales seen nationwide after mass shootings during Obama’s presidency.

The store sells the AR-15, the same gun used in the Parkland, Fla. school shooting that recently reignited the gun control debate.

Poulin noted that NOVA Armory has reserved the right to refuse service on any reason the store sees fit. There have been no threats made against the store since the February shooting in Parkland, Fla., he added.

The store, however, faced major community backlash prior to and shortly after opening two years ago. NOVA Armory, at that time under different management, threatened to sue 64 individuals who spoke out against the store’s opening. Also in 2016, the store suffered a burglary and an incident in which “a man with mental health issues walked [in] and started yelling obscenities.”

Photo via NOVA Armory/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Market Common Redevelopment Approved — The Arlington County Board last night approved a plan to redevelop a portion of Market Common Clarendon. The project is described as “a major renovation and expansion of a commercial-retail block in the heart of Clarendon,” which will preserve the A&R Engravers building and widen the Wilson Boulevard sidewalk at Edgewood Street. [Arlington County]

Gondola Idea Not Dead Yet — “A gondola connecting Georgetown and Rosslyn adjacent to the Key Bridge is still in the works,” with those on the D.C. side of the Potomac continuing to work on it despite Arlington’s public reticence. However, the project now faces an exceedingly complex Environmental Impact Study. [Washington Business Journal]

Man Shot and Killed in Philly IDed — A local man who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in South Philadelphia after allegedly deliberately striking a pedestrian with his car has been identified. Per the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Khalil Lawal, of the 100 block of South Frederick Street in Arlington, Va., was shot early Monday morning by the officer in the face, torso, and legs, police said.” [Philly.com]

Mitten Under Consideration for Michigan Job — Arlington Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten is among three candidates under consideration for the job of City Manager in Grand Rapids, Michigan. [Grand Rapids Business Journal]

Ship’s Hatch Under New Ownership — Long-time military gift store Ship’s Hatch has been sold to a new owner. Founder Mary Beth Cox, 73, is retiring after more than three decades of running the store in the Crystal City Shops. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

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Freshbikes Has Closed in Ballston

Local bicycling retailer and bike ride organizer Freshbikes has closed.

The store’s Ballston location, at 3924 Wilson Blvd, is shuttered. The Freshbikes location in Bethesda has also reportedly closed. Its Mosaic District store in Fairfax County closed last year.

A message on the Freshbikes website thanked customers and said the closing was “due to circumstances outside of our control.”

Thank You For a Great 11 Years!

For the past 11 years, it has been our honor and our pleasure to serve you. Effective immediately, due to circumstances outside of our control, all Freshbikes locations are closing permanently.

A special thanks to Arlington County for supporting our Tuesday Night Ride through the years.

Lastly, we thank our our outstanding staff, as we couldn’t have done any of this without this team of  dedicated professionals.

Scott & The Freshbikes Team

Several years ago Freshbikes was sued by a former employee who alleged sexual harassment. The suit was later settled and the store posted an apology on its website.

File photo

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Brookstone Closed in Pentagon City Mall

Electronics and gadget retailer Brookston closed its store in the Pentagon City mall over the weekend.

Signs in the store indicate that it closed Saturday after a 70 percent off clearance sale. Customers are encouraged to shop at Brookstone.com for their drone, electric scooter and Cordless Heated Gronk Shiatsu Massager needs.

The store’s shuttering appears to be one of a recent spate of closings for the company from coast to coast. It was located in one of the mall’s most heavy foot traffic areas, between the main entrance and the escalators to the food court.

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Longtime Outdoor Store Casual Adventure Has New Location ‘In Mind’

The ongoing uncertainty over the future of Virginia Square outdoor store Casual Adventure could be close to resolution, according to its owner.

Owner Eric Stern told ARLnow that after receiving several extensions on its lease at 3451 Washington Blvd, the company is now close to signing a lease on a new location. Stern declined to go into specifics, but said there could be more progress in the near future.

He added that television commercials noting Casual Adventure’s lease extension are correct, but he did not say for how much longer it will last. The long-time outdoor retailer had been set to close last spring after 61 years in business. It first announced its closure last April.

“We’re still in the process of getting it all signed and sealed,” Stern said. “We have a location in mind and a backup if it falls through.”

The store continues to be open as normal, with its winter stock marked down by as much as 70 percent off regular price. A sign also indicates that Casual Adventure is looking to hire new staff.

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Random Harvest Now Closed Along Lee Highway

Furniture store Random Harvest has closed its location at 4522 Lee Highway.

The store, in the Lee Heights Shops, carried “an exceptional handpicked selection of furniture and accessories.” It closed just before the new year.

“It has been a pleasure to have been part of the Lee Heights community over the past 10 years,” a sign on the door reads. “But all good things must come to an end and this location of Random Harvest is now closed.”

The sign says the store’s inventory will transferred to the company’s remaining locations, in Bethesda, Georgetown and Alexandria. However, a 50 percent off “pop up sale” is planned at the Lee Highway store Jan 18-21 and 25-28.

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Local Rite Aid Pharmacies Now Have Walgreens Branding

The pharmacies at Rite Aid drug stores throughout Arlington County now have Walgreens branding, ahead of Walgreens finalizing its purchase of Rite Aid next year.

The Rite Aid stores in Pentagon Row (1301 S. Joyce Street), and on Columbia Pike and Lee Highway, all had signs added to reflect the switch to Walgreens pharmacies inside. There are other Rite Aids in Crystal City, Rosslyn and Westover.

Fortune magazine reported in October that Walgreens plans to close nearly 600 of the more-than 1,900 Rite Aid stores across the country as part of a $4.3 billion deal to buy the company.

That transaction will close in the spring, Fortune reported, after which some Rite Aid — and a few Walgreens — stores will be closed if they are within one mile of another drug store the company owns.

Beyond the changed branding for the pharmacy services, everything else appeared much the same in local Rite Aids.

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Morning Notes

Planning for Transportation Changes in Rosslyn — “Local officials are now partnering with developers to make more improvements to help convince the next big corporate tenant to pick Rosslyn.” [Bisnow]

Teavana to Remain Open — Set to close next year, the Teavana store at Pentagon City mall is now expected to remain open thanks to a judge’s ruling against parent company Starbucks. [Washington Business Journal]

Lopez’s Detention Center Work Criticized — “Del. Alfonso H. Lopez, a Democrat who has represented a Hispanic­-heavy South Arlington district since 2012, was paid more than $5,000 a year in 2014 and more than $10,000 a year in 2015 and 2016 by Immigration Centers of America (ICA), which operates a detention center in Farmville, Va. , according to his state financial disclosure reports.” [Washington Post]

Holiday Events for Incarcerated Parents — Today and tomorrow, the Arlington County jail will be hosting a pair of “special events to allow incarcerated mothers and fathers to visit with their children during the winter holidays.” [Arlington County]

ACPD Show Goes On Despite Snow — The Arlington County Police Department’s “Operation Santa” performance, featuring cops donning costumes and dancing for children in the community, went on Saturday despite the snowy weather. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Casual Adventure to Stay Open At Least Through Christmas Season

Casual Adventure will be open until at least Christmas, after it signed a new short-term lease on its Virginia Square building.

Owner Eric Stern said he and his staff requested the extension from property owner 1404 Hancock Street Investment LLC, a company registered to local custom home builder BCN Homes.

The pair then agreed on the extension, in part, Stern said, because new development in the area is taking a “little bit longer than originally anticipated.”

“We’ve had a great business relationship, and we were able to extend at least for the time being,” he said. “Then we’ll figure things out from there.”

The long-time outdoor retailer had been set to close its 3451 Washington Blvd location this spring after 61 years in business. It first announced its closure in April and subsequently held an “End of an Era Sale” with large discounts.

Stern said the influx of customers and outpouring of sadness at the store’s closing showed there is still “an obvious need or want for us in this space.”

“The general support from the public has been overwhelming in a positive way,” he said. “I certainly appreciate everybody who’s come in and shared their stories of the trips they’ve taken over the years, the products they’ve bought from us over the years and the photos they’ve had from their trips.”

Casual Adventure is currently holding a summer clearance sale with merchandise marked down as much as 70 percent. Stern said fall items will start arriving shortly.

Hat tip to Buzz McClain

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Wawa Considering Arlington As Part of D.C. Area Expansion

Convenience store giant Wawa is considering expanding into Arlington County as part of its push into the D.C. and Virginia market, but has no firm plans yet.

Wawa, which operates more than 750 stores in six states including 81 in Virginia, announced Tuesday night its first location will be in the District at 1111 19th Street NW.

And with an aggressive plan to add 30-50 stores in the region, including 5-10 in the next two years alone, Wawa representatives said there will be a concerted push to also look beyond D.C.’s neighborhoods and into the outlying counties in Maryland and Virginia.

“We think of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun [counties] a little differently, not so much as part of our District expansion but really more as part of our Virginia expansion,” said John Poplawski, Wawa’s senior director of site acquisition and development, in an interview. “We continue to work towards those, but frankly, the approval process and the zoning are a little more challenging in those markets.”

With its new store in D.C., Wawa is looking to expand its more urban stores, as opposed to its previous model of operating in suburban locations with gas stations attached.

The new District store will be the largest Wawa store in the country, and as well as the latest food offerings will be the first to have counter, indoor and outdoor seating. The store will also be the first to have Wawa’s so-called “Wild Goose” café brand.

Wawa announced its first foray into D.C. at an event Tuesday night at the Newseum. Company executives were joined by representatives of various local organizations and developers in a conference room overlooking the city skyline to unveil designs of the new store.

Outside, the company set up a Fan Zone where customers could pose for photographs with mascots Wally and Shorti and pick up branded merchandise.

Wawa is famous across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Florida as well as elsewhere in Virginia for offering fresh food including made-to-order hoagies, fresh coffee and a slew of other food items including breakfast sandwiches.

And given the similarities between neighborhoods in D.C. and areas of Arlington like Ballston, Clarendon, Pentagon City and Crystal City, county residents could get a taste in their neighborhood soon.

“We’re looking for those intersections that have throughout the day pedestrian counts, folks that are there on the weekends, folks that are there late-night, surrounding businesses that will support us, and we have great partners here in the District,” Poplawski said.

Poplawski said more store locations will be announced in the next “60-90 days.” Rumors have swirled online about new stores opening in Chinatown and Georgetown in D.C., while a store in Sterling in Loudoun County will open on June 23.

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Clarendon Aromatherapy Store Cosmic Energy Closed

An aromatherapy store in Clarendon has shuttered after 20 years in business.

Cosmic Energy at 1114 N. Irving Street provided a “one-stop-shopping” experience for metaphysical and aromatherapy products. Those products included oils, incense, sacred herbs, teas, body care products and more.

Although the business’ website is still operational, the building is empty and there is a for rent sign in its window. Cosmic Energy’s phone number is no longer in service and instead directs callers to similar stores nearby.

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Casual Adventure Set To Close After Spring Sales, But No Closing Date Yet

Long-time Virginia Square outdoor retailer Casual Adventure is still open, but will close once its spring stock has sold out.

The 61-year-old store at 3451 Washington Blvd announced its closure last month. After the announcement, the retailer kicked off its “End of an Era Sale,” featuring up to 50 percent off any remaining outdoor, tactical and sporting goods in stock.

Store owner Eric Stern said Casual Adventure has received two final deliveries of spring merchandise, which is being sold at reduced prices. Once everything is sold, the store will close, he said.

“We’ve definitely got a good selection, and we’re just blowing it out at this point,” he told ARLnow.com.

Stern said there is still no firm closing date, and there is significant “wiggle room” on when it needs to vacate the premises. Stern said he is looking to host regular Andrew Towne on Memorial Day weekend for a talk on his latest attempt to summit Mount Everest, and said Casual Adventure will continue supporting various community projects.

“It’s nice as we transition out of here that we can take care of our customers,” he said.

The Washington Business Journal reported that the store’s new owner is 1404 Hancock Street Investment LLC, a company registered to local custom home builder BCN Homes. As yet, no building or demolition permit applications have been filed with the county.

Casual Adventure already has an online store set up through Amazon, and Stern said it is actively looking for a new location for its store, but that there is “no rush.”

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Crime Report: Early Morning Antics in Ballston Store

Two men made an early morning entry into a department store on the 700 block of Glebe Road in Ballston.

This morning just before 4 a.m., police responded to a burglar alarm at the property and found that two men had entered the store. The suspects fled shortly after police arrived.

Although police do not release the names of affected businesses, Macy’s is the only remaining department store on that block while the Ballston mall undergoes renovation.

It doesn’t appear that the suspects took any items. More from the ACPD crime report:

UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2017-04190032, 700 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 3:47 a.m. on April 19, officers responded to an audible burglary alarm. Upon arrival, it was determined two unknown male subjects entered a business. The subjects then fled the scene on foot shortly after. No items appear to be missing. The first subject is described as a black male, with a slim to medium build and was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt. The second subject is described as a black male, with a slim to medium build and was wearing a dark shirt. The investigation is ongoing.

More highlights from this week’s relatively thin crime report, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

BURGLARY, 2017-04170173, 400 block of S. 12th Street. At approximately 4:04 p.m. on April 17, officers responded to the report of a late burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown subject(s) entered a residence and stole items of value. There is no suspect(s) description.

DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY (Series), 2017-04160086, 5200 block of S. 8th Road. At approximately 9:15 a.m. on April 16, officers responded to the report of a destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined that four vehicles had been damaged by an unknown suspect(s). There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

ARMED ROBBERY, 2017-04120301, 4900 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 11:53 p.m. on April 12, officers responded to the report of an armed robbery that had just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined two masked male suspects, one brandishing a firearm, entered a store and demanded cash and items of value. The suspects then fled the scene in a nearby parked vehicle with an undisclosed amount of cash and items of value. The first suspect is described as a black male, approximately 6’0″ tall. He was wearing dark jeans, a black hoodie, a black mask, and white gloves. The second suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’5″-5’8″ tall. He was wearing olive green pants, a black hoodie, a black mask, and white gloves. The investigation is ongoing.

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Long-Time Outdoor Store Casual Adventure Is Closing

(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) Casual Adventure, the long-time Virginia Square outdoor retailer that promises to “outfit you from Great Falls to Nepal,” is closing.

The store, at 3451 Washington Blvd, made the announcement this morning. The owners “received a reasonable offer for the sale of our building” and took it, they said.

E-commerce has made the bricks-and-mortar retail business increasingly difficult. “It’s no secret that the old retail model no longer works,” said Eric Stern, whose family has owned the store for 61 years.

Casual Adventure will be closed Monday and Tuesday and will reopen Wednesday to kick of its “End of an Era Sale,” featuring up to 50 percent off any remaining outdoor, tactical and sporting goods in stock. An exact closing date has not been announced.

The business may be revived, however, in a modified form later this year.

The family “has plans to reopen elsewhere in Northern Virginia in late summer or early fall, with a focus on corporate, league, military and government sales,” Arlington Magazine reported. A company rep wouldn’t comment on that report.

“We’ll share details with our loyal customer base and the Arlington community if it becomes necessary,” said Nathan Carroll. “For now we are squarely focused on selling all of our current inventory.”

The full announcement is below.

Dear Friends:

This business, which my great-grandfather Oscar founded over six decades ago, has been a source of great pride to our family over the years. Like all businesses, we’ve had to evolve: from our beginnings as a district grocery store, to an Army-Navy surplus store, to becoming the outdoor, tactical, and sporting goods store you know us to be today.

It’s no secret that the old retail model no longer works, so when we received a reasonable offer for the sale of our building, we decided the time was ripe to again switch gears, by closing our store and focusing our future business through the internet and beyond.

But first we commence the biggest sale in our 61-year history. Our END OF AN ERA SALE features our entire stock of clothing, outerwear, footwear, camping gear, travel accessories and sporting gear, with storewide reductions up to 50% off.

We’ll be closed all day Monday and Tuesday to reduce prices and prepare. Sale starts Wednesday, April 5th at 9:00am.

So whatever your outdoor needs, whether hiking, camping, adventure travel, or otherwise, we’ve got it all and it’s all on sale. Shop early before the word is out to the general public and buy “the good stuff” at liquidation prices.

It’s been our great joy to have served our local communities for so many years: but times change and for everyone the time comes to move forward. Along with our wonderfully talented and loyal staff, we thank you for your friendship and support and look forward to helping you find the perfect outfit and gear in this final sale.

Sincerely,

Eric Stern, on behalf of the Stern family

Photo via Facebook

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