(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.
“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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Eric Stern, on behalf of the Stern family
Photo via Facebook
Every Thursday morning, rain or shine, the folks enjoying breakfast and coffee at the tables outside the Lee Harrison Shopping Center Starbucks get to see the delivery of two to three tons of birdseed hauled into the Wild Birds Unlimited store next door.
That’s two to three TONS of bags of wild birdseed.
“That’s how fresh it is,” says owner Michael Zuiker. “And we go through that mountain every week.”
During special promotions that mountain has been known to grow to seven tons, and it flies off the shelves as if on eagle wings.
Wild Birds Unlimited has been at the same perch at Lee Harrison for 26 years, ever since Zuiker gave up designing Roy Rogers restaurants for Marriott in the 1980s and decided to do something that connected him as well as others with the outdoors.
“I’ve always loved outdoors, always loved nature,” Zuiker says. “I always loved the concept of doing something all natural. So for 26 years we’ve been bringing people and nature together.”
Over the years Zuiker has established a loyal clientele of bird lovers in Arlington, Falls Church and McLean, and he’s heartened by the growing number of new customers who come to the store perhaps for the first time. But some of them aren’t clear on the concept when they first come in.
“Maybe twice a week people come in looking to buy birds,” he says. “I tell them, I have no clue how to sell a bird. And the other misconception they have is when they ask, Can you make a living doing this? That’s when I politely tell them feeding wild birds is the second-most popular hobby in America, next to gardening.”
Zuiker says some 60 million Americans actively feed birds all four seasons. “It’s a beautiful hobby,” he says.
Zuiker is careful not to run down the competition, but those inexpensive bags of birdseed at grocery and hardware stores are not the stock he’s carrying.
“They sell it so cheaply, I don’t see how they can make a profit on it,” he says. “But it won’t be fresh, it won’t be good quality seed. A 20-pound bag might have 70 percent cereal grain in it which the birds don’t actually eat. They’ll kick it to the ground.
“And it’s very possible it’s been sitting on the shelf for months, which, because there is larvae in it, it could produce bugs.
“Or it could have very few seeds that only a few species will eat and not the kind people are trying to attract to their backyards.”
In Arlington, that would be cardinals, chickadees, titmice, winter wrens, English sparrows, goldfinches, blue jays, doves — “a lot of color, a lot of songs in your backyard,” he says–or any of the six species of woodpeckers that inhabit the area.
A different bag of bird food, when used strategically, will bring in the migrating birds. Zuiker says there are some 10 to 20 species of those who swoop in for a snack before headed home.
Zuiker and his staff make sure customers have the seed and the feeders they need to accomplish their goals, and in Arlington and Falls Church, which are famously leafy neighborhoods, it’s not hard to do. But it has to be done right.
“You can put a feeder out and have birds on it within an hour,” he says. “But we tell our customers to give it a couple of weeks to really get going because the birds don’t recognize it as a food source right off the bat.”
Then there’s the squirrel challenge. “Everybody has a squirrel challenge,” he says, “but we can make any feeder in our store 100 percent squirrel-proof if you set it up correctly.”
Unsure about squirrels, feeders, seeds and the difference between a tufted titmouse and a white-breasted nuthatch? Just ask.
“I train my staff really hard to be real educators,” says Zuiker. “We want people to walk out the door with their solution for what they want in their backyards, and we try to educate them on the different ways they can do that. And it’s fun!”
Still fun, after 26 years?
“I never get tired of listening to the birds, I never get tired of feeding the birds and I never get tired of going out into the woods and exploring,” Zuiker says.
“But what really motivates me is, I don’t think I’ve maxed out [the customer base]. I don’t think it’s reached its potential. And I’m not interested in growing just to grow, but to help the staff and help other people–I’m still motivated by that.”
And not to mention helping the wild birds.
Wild Birds Unlimited is in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center at 2437 N. Harrison Street, Arlington. Call 703-241-3988 or email at [email protected].
The preceding business profile was written by Buzz McClain for our sponsor, Wild Birds Unlimited.