Arlington, VA

(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) A reported ruptured gas line behind Papillon Cycles prompted evacuations and a road closure near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive.

As of 2:10 p.m., the gas leak has been stopped and police re-opened Walter Reed Drive, after temporarily closing it between the Pike and 9th Street S.

Some stores in the area, on the 2800 block of Columbia Pike, were evacuated during the incident, according to scanner traffic.

One restaurant owner said that means their business had to close, but told ARLnow, “but that’s fine, it’s a Wednesday so it’s slow anyway.”

A full fire department response has been dispatched to the scene as a precaution, as gas company crews work to stop the leak.

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The two Kriser’s stores in Arlington are being rebranded as “Loyal Companion,” with a grand opening planned to give away free pet food.

The rebranding is part of a change for all East Coast locations of Kriser’s. The new brand includes the natural pet food focus of Kriser’s with other parts of “holistic pet wellness.” From the brand’s website:

Loyal Companion is unlike any pet experience in the world. We’ve combined some of the best brands in the business including Kriser’s, Especially For Pets, Bark! Dogma – Life, With Your Pet, Pet Source, Pet Life and Whole Pet Central to form one new company dedicated to holistic pet wellness. Loyal Companion is a community of pet experts — nutritionists, behaviorists, educators and groomers — that has banded together to make life easy for pet owners by offering everything you need under one virtual and physical roof. Raw food. Healthy treats. Supplies. Grooming. Daycare. Training. Vet services. Advice.

(Though Baltimore-based Dogma is one of the stores now under the Loyal Companion umbrella, as mentioned above, Dogma Bakery in Arlington is unaffiliated with the brand.)

There are two Kriser’s locations in Arlington, one in Clarendon at 2509 Franklin Road and one at 2501 N. Harrison Street in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center.

Both locations are throwing grand opening celebrations for the new brand on Saturday (May 4) from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday (May 5) from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The events will offer free gift bags for the first 100 customers in each day, with gift cards up to $100 as a doorbuster prize, according to the company.

The stores will also have raffle prizes, with potential to win free pet food for a year, gift cards and more.

Planned in-store activities include a blind taste test for pets and staff on hand to answer pet nutrition questions.

Photo via Google Maps

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A pawn shop in Crystal City has not one but two of the most rare items around: Lombardi trophies. And that’s not to mention the Super Bowl rings.

Eric Rizer, the owner of Royal Pawn at 507 23rd Street S., says a former Denver Broncos player — he wouldn’t say who — has parted with the two Super Bowl rings and trophies, which date back to the team’s championship 1997 and 1998 seasons.

The trophies are replicas, made by Tiffany & Co. and about 75 percent of the size of the real trophy, of which only one is made for each Super Bowl-winning team. Starting players are eligible to buy the replicas after winning the big game, Rizer said, adding that he has verified the authenticity of each with Tiffany via an engraved serial number.

While the sterling silver trophies are more rare than the Super Bowl rings, the rings come with a higher price tag thanks to what they’re made of: 14-karat gold and a combination of white and canary yellow diamonds.

The trophies are on sale for $10,000 each, while the single-horse ring is $25,000 and the double-horse ring is $30,000, Rizer said. He said interest in the NFL’s highest prizes has been high, with kids frequently stopping by to gawk at the trophies and rings, which the store allows.

Rizer says he even brought one of the trophies to the nearby Crystal City Sports Pub for its Super Bowl viewing last month, attracting lots of attention.

While Rizer would not reveal the name of the seller, he did say that it was a Pro Bowl-caliber player who — despite playing for the Broncos — currently lives in the D.C. area.

Royal Pawn opened in Crystal City in 2017 and has other locations in Vienna and Alexandria. Rizer said he had been “dying to open” along 23rd Street S. in Crystal City and is now doubly excited about the location, given the arrival of Amazon’s new office campus, which is currently under construction.

More on the rings and trophies from Royal Pawn’s Instagram account:

View this post on Instagram

You are seeing that correctly, folks. This is one of the most rare sets available ANYWHERE! Pictured are Denver Broncos Super Bowl Players Rings AND Trophies from both the 1998 and 1999 Super Bowls! These pieces are guaranteed 100% Authentic and are from a starting player who was also retired in Denver’s Ring of Honor! The Trophies are solid silver and made by Tiffany & Co. Only starting player and coaches are eligible to receive a copy of the Lombardy. Give us a call today for more information, or stop on in and give them a look! (571)483-0041 #RoyalPawn #ArlingtonVA #DenverBroncos #SuperBowl #LuxuryJewelry #Tiffany #TiffanyandCompany #SportsJunkie #Collector #Denver #Colorado #SuperBowlRing #NFL #NFLnetwork #ForSale #Gold #Diamonds #JewelryAddict #MensJewelry #Championship #ChampionshipRings

A post shared by Royal Pawn Of Crystal City (@royalpawnofcrystalcity) on

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Amazon is sending a pop-up store into Crystal City today with the hopes Arlingtonians will stop by.

The store-on-wheels is dubbed the “Treasure Truck” and travels the country offering “new, trending, local, or delicious items” per a company spokesman. Today the truck will be parked at 2011 Crystal Drive until 1 p.m.

Amazon app users can sign up for notifications that alert them when the truck opens and whatever the truck is offering that day. Users can then purchase the items they want online and pick-up in person at the truck.

In the past, the truck has served up an array of items from brownies to gold Bohemian Rhapsody movie backpacks to lightbulbs, according to Twitter posts.

The truck’s inventory was not available to this reporter online as of 10:45 a.m. this morning.

Amazon’s treasure truck heralds the company’s impending move to the area scheduled for 2021, when it will begin construction for its second headquarters in the Crystal City and Pentagon City area that some local officials have attempted to rebrand as “National Landing.”

The trillion-dollar company’s promise to occupy long vacant real estate and add 25,000 jobs comes in exchange for $23 million in county grant money, $750 million in state incentives, and a head’s up on any Freedom of Information Act Requests, according to documents released this week. It’s a deal that’s drawn criticism from unions and affordable housing advocates as ARLnow previously reported.

Arlington County has also been criticized for directly pitching tax incentives Amazon would be eligible to receive, but which few other businesses have taken advantage of, as ARLnow reported this week.

Photo via @Dr_Pete

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Morning Notes

Gymboree Expected to Close — “Children’s clothing retailer Gymboree Group Inc. is expected to seek bankruptcy protection this week, with plans to close all 900 of its stores, according to people familiar with the matter.” The company has a Gymboree location at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. [Wall Street Journal]

A First for the Local Real Estate Market — “The Arlington real estate market for 2018 was essentially flat compared to a year before – while, for the first time, the average sales price of single-family homes topped the $1 million mark.” [InsideNova]

Storm Response Now in ‘Phase 4’ — Arlington County’s snow removal effort is now in “Phase 4,” cleaning up problem areas with a focus on schools and county facilities. Overnight a refreeze produced black ice and made plowing more difficult and driving hazardous, the county said. Last night Arlington Public Schools decided to close schools today instead of open on a delay. [Twitter]

School Construction Project Update — Construction is running on time on both the future Alice West Fleet Elementary School and the future home of H-B Woodlawn in Rosslyn, but heavy rains have caused delays for the future Dorothy Hamm Middle School, formerly known as the Stratford School, on Vacation Lane. [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Amazon’s Helipad in Doubt — Amazon requested that it be able to build a helipad at both of its new campuses, in Crystal City and New York City. But it’s unlikely that the company will be able to win approval for operating a private helicopter in the restricted airspace around Washington. [WAMU]

Wawa Looks to NoVa — “‘Fairfax County and Northern Virginia is a really important market for us,’ Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens was quoted as saying… ‘We are looking at strategically bending our store model to get more access to that area and plan to announce some openings in that area coming up.'” [Tysons Reporter]

Metro Holiday Schedule — Metro is operating on a reduced schedule today and tomorrow, as well as New Year’s Day. It will operate on a regular weekday schedule on New Year’s Eve, with special late night service until 2 a.m. [WMATA]

Christmas Is a Recycling Nightmare — “Your holiday wish list – or at least what it comes wrapped in – may be causing big problems for recyclers. ‘It surprises a lot of people,’ Arlington County Solid Waste Bureau Operations Manager Shani Kruljac said. Here’s the deal: a bunch of holiday-related stuff you may assume is recyclable actually isn’t.” [Fox 5]

APS Seeking Nominations for Top Cross Guards — “Arlington Public Schools is asking the public to consider nominating local crossing guards for Virginia’s Most Outstanding Crossing Guards competition… Nominations are open through Jan. 25.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Firms Awarded Federal Contracts — Ballston-based CACI has been awarded “a prime position” on a $12.1 billion U.S. Army information technology contract. Meanwhile “DTS, a small business in Arlington, Virginia, has won a $2.6 million contract with the Fish & Wildlife Services to provide IT program management and change management services.” [BusinessWire, Washington Technology]

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Morning Notes

Arlington Employee Inspires New Child Care Policy — Lanette Johnson, an employee at the Pentagon City Best Buy store, is “the inspiration behind Best Buy’s new backup child-care benefit for all full-time and part-time employees. Workers at nearly 1,000 U.S. stores, distribution centers and corporate headquarters have access to 10 days of subsidized care each year through a Best Buy partnership with Care.com.” [Washington Post]

Weekend Rain Drenched Arlington — Arlington was among the parts of the region to see the most rainfall over the weekend. [Twitter]

Small Business Lender Active in Arlington Courts — “On Deck Capital Inc., a publicly traded online small business lender based in New York… which also has Arlington office space… accounted for 7 percent of all [small business] debt collection cases brought to that Arlington County courthouse through September.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Leadership for Arlington NAACP — “The Arlington branch of the NAACP will enter 2019 with a new leadership structure and a commitment to building on recent growth. ‘I’m all about community activism – we will go out and do good things,’ said Julius Spain Sr., who on Dec. 17 was sworn in to serve as president of the 78-year-old local civil-rights organization.” [InsideNova]

Arlington GOP Chief Steps Down — “The Arlington County Republican Committee will enter 2019 on a hunt for prospective candidates – and a hunt for a new chairman, too. Jim Presswood, who has chaired the GOP for nearly three years, announced recently he would be stepping down halfway through his second two-year term due to commitments at work.” [InsideNova, Facebook]

Photo courtesy Crystal Comiskey

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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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(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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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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