Alexandria, VA

Women’s clothing store LOFT (423 King Street) has permanently closed.

The store had mostly positive reviews and was often busy, but was victim to Ascena Retail Group’s wider bankruptcy filings. The store had survived earlier rounds of closings this summer, which had claimed the stores in the Tysons Corner Center and Potomac Mills Mall but was closed as of early December.

The next closest LOFT locations are in Arlington at Pentagon Row (1201 South Joyce Street) and Clarendon (2700 Clarendon Blvd).

Hat tip to @OldTownDogWalks, photo via Google Maps

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After a decade of serving pizza in Old Town, Pizzeria Paradiso at 124 King Street is closing its doors. But there’s still a chance to get one more pie before the pizzeria says arrivederci.

On Sunday, October 4, Pizzeria Paradiso will serve pizza and souvenirs for the last time. The “walk-by celebration” will start at 1 p.m. and will go until supplies run out.

“We are sad to be closing our doors, but will be back to visit our friends in Old Town through upcoming pizza partnerships with our friends at @portcitybrew,” Pizzeria Paradiso said on Facebook. “We are incredibly thankful for our loyal customers and will greatly miss being a permanent part of the Alexandria community.

The post continues: “After ten years in Old Town, we are saddened to announce we will permanently close our King Street location this fall. Join us for a walk by celebration on Sunday, October 4th at 1pm-we’ll be handing out pizza and Paradiso souvenirs while supplies last plus more information about Pizza Night at Port City!”

Pizza Paradiso’s other locations in Maryland and Washington, D.C. are still open.

After ten years in Old Town, we are saddened to announce we will permanently close our King Street location this fall….

Posted by Pizzeria Paradiso on Thursday, September 24, 2020

Photo via Pizzeria Paradiso/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Trump Should Not Reject Strict FDA Guidelines for COVID Vaccines — “Political interference with vaccine development and an open feud with FDA can only further damage the public’s already growing safety concerns. Once again, lives may depend on Trump shutting his mouth and letting scientists do their jobs.” [Twitter]

Pizzeria Paradiso Closing in Old Town — “Like many restaurants in Old Town, Pizzeria Paradiso closed when the coronavirus pandemic reached Alexandria. Unfortunately, the beloved pizza restaurant will not be reopening, the owner announced this week.” [Alexandria Living]

Carlyle Farmers’ Market Today from 3-7 P.M. — “Free to the Public; Produce, Meats, Food, and Beverage sales are welcomed. What to Bring? Face Mask and your Social Distancing Etiquette.” [Facebook]

Lee-Fendall House Hosting Virtual Speakeasy Fundraiser — “Enjoy a night of speakeasy-style fun , without leaving your living room! Join us for this special night to support the Lee-Fendall House Museum’s vital work in historic preservation and education – one where you can keep on dancing, break out the booze, and have a ball.” [Visit Alexandria]

Alexandria Sheriff’s Deputy Reads ‘Lost And Found’ — “Chief Deputy Candra Callicott offers her encouragement to young students and the sweet story “Lost and Found” about a boy and a penguin.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Country Day School Hosting Virtual Open House — “ACDS’s small-size and ability to adapt quickly allowed us to open in September with in-person learning under a hybrid model. Join our Head of School, Division Heads, current parents and middle school students to learn more about our student-centered program.” [Patch]

Free Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic on Saturday — “This clinic will be open to adults and adolescents age 12 and over, with a maximum of four people per vehicle.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s Weather — “Overcast (during the day). High 74F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.Rain showers in the evening will evolve into a more steady rain overnight. Low 63F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 70%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Alexandria Assistant City Manager for Public Private Partnerships — “As a member of the City Manager’s Senior Leadership Team, the Assistant City Manager for Public Private Partnerships reports to the City Manager and a Deputy City Manager and is responsible for leading the overall public private partnership (P3) initiatives for the City primarily via capital project planning and financing, leveraging of City assets and resources to implement City infrastructure and facilities, economic development related public sector and private sector projects, as well as facilitating the development and implementation of alternative service delivery strategies.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer says Trump ‘Unleashed’ the Coronavirus — “Vice Chair @RepDonBeyer during today’s hearing: ‘Donald Trump holds the vast power of the U.S. Presidency–but he has refused to use it. He has not contained the coronavirus, but has unleashed it. As a result, many more lives will be lost.'” [Twitter]

Police to Conduct Traffic Enforcement Campaign for Drivers at Crosswalks — “APD is committed to protecting vulnerable road users by raising awareness about pedestrian and bike safety. The Traffic Safety is preparing to conduct multiple traffic enforcement operations which intend to address unsafe pedestrian and driving behavior in, and around, City of Alexandria crosswalks.” [Facebook]

Mystery of WWII Uniform Solved in 24 Hours on Nextdoor — “On Sept. 13, 2020, Colonel Royal Gervais’s uniform — after residing in an attic through 14 years of tenants and 22 years of my mom’s ownership, then in our closet for 34 years — was returned in person to members of his family as they shared photos and memories of the Colonel with us.” [Alexandria Living]

Sur La Table To Close At End Of September in Old Town — “Sur La Table, a high-end kitchenware store that also hosts cooking classes, will close its Alexandria location at the end of September.” [Patch]

7 On Your Side Uncovers Trash Issues with Alexandria Recycling Drop-off Center — “The video was taken by Advocates for Clean and Clear Waterways. The fence belongs to the Virginia Department of Transpiration and is torn apart and rolled back.   At the bottom of the fence, there’s a homeless camp. 7 On Your Side cameras found the same issues.” [WJLA]

Tickets Available for Senior Services of Alexandria Virtual Oktoberfest Celebration — “Oktoberfest is coming Oct. 15 and for the first time it will be virtual! Join SSA for a fun evening featuring Port City beers, delicious German food and a virtual beer tasting and tour of the brewery. This annual event supports Meals on Wheels, Groceries to Go, and the Friendly Visitor Program!” [Facebook]

Outdoor ‘Black Panther’ Outdoor Viewing Party in Carlyle this Weekend — “Join us this Saturday for a night to remember Chadwick Boseman – Wear your tribute costume, bring your tribute figurine and enjoy our showing of Black Panther.” [Facebook]

ALIVE! Distributing Food This Weekend — “ALIVE! will distribute food at two drive-through sites on Saturday, September 26, 8:30-10:30 a.m., in the parking lots of Cora Kelly (3600 Commonwealth Ave.) and John Adams (5651 Rayburn Ave.) Elementary Schools. These distributions include bags of shelf stable groceries, chicken and eggs, while supplies last. To observe no-contact food distribution, residents are encouraged to drive through and remain in their cars. Walks-ups are permitted but should maintain 6 feet of physical distance, wear a face mask, and bring carts or reusable bags to carry food home.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Sunny skies (during the day). High 81F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.Partly cloudy during the evening followed by cloudy skies overnight. Low around 60F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Food Program Coordinator at ALIVE! — “ALIVE! is searching for a full-time, temporary Food Program Coordinator through at least December 31, 2020. Hours are non-traditional and require evenings and weekends. Health care and leave benefits available for full-time staff. Two part-time hires may job share this position.” [Facebook]

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When one door closes another opens, and that’s definitely the case with The Company of Books, Del Ray’s new used book store is turning the page and replacing the Book Bank in Old Town. The new store opened at 1712 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray a little less than two weeks ago.

The Del Ray location is still a little empty, and books and shelves are being brought in daily. Readers might find a few noticeable differences between the new and the old book stores. For one thing, the Company of Books is a nonprofit and its founder and Executive Director Rachel Baker wants to use future profits toward community events.

“We definitely are not looking at expanding into more locations, and our goal is to give back to the community in a way that can be helpful, and mean something,” Baker told ALXnow.

The Book Bank, which is an Alexandria staple that has sold used books for decades at 1015 King Street, will be closing its doors for good on September 20. The store will be offering sales of up to 50% off before the closure, and even before discounts the average cost for a book is $6.

There was some controversy with the new store, as a neighbor in Del Ray reported that one of its board members was taking books from little free libraries to sell in the store. Baker said that the books were recycled back into the little free libraries and that she has thousands of books for sale.

“The profit margin on a secondhand bookstore is incredibly small, and it definitely requires volume and you cannot make any kind of income taking books from little free libraries and reselling them,” she said.

The store will also start accepting used book donations on October 15.

Come visit us !!!!

Posted by The Company of Books, Inc on Saturday, August 29, 2020

Photo via The Company of Books/Facebook

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After 50 years in business, The Irish Walk at 415 King Street will close by the end of July.

“It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that after 50 years in business; The Irish Walk will be closing its doors on July 31, 2020,” owner Patty Theobald said in an email. “From the original owners, the Butler Family, to the Troy Family, to me and my staff, we have all enjoyed getting to know our customers and community over the last five decades.

Theobald said coronavirus was just the latest in a series of financial hurdles that were just too much for the business to withstand. The Irish Walk isn’t alone either, many businesses in the city are facing a slow recovery as sales remain low.

“The last couple of years have been financially hard on all of us,” Theobald said. From the government shutdown, to the summer closing of the Alexandria Metro stations, and now the pandemic; we all have suffered in ways we couldn’t have imagined,” Theobald said. “The Irish Walk is one business, in a long list of businesses that is finding it impossible to bounce back after this third financial hit.”

The store owners and staff left their customers with one last message of encouragement.

“We have fitted some of you with your first Irish dance shoes, ordered your wedding bands, watched your children grow, celebrated your anniversaries and helped you find the perfect gifts,” Theobald said. “We have appreciated hearing about your trips to Ireland and your family’s Irish histories and celebrating the big day with you…St. Patrick’s Day. It has been a joy.”

https://twitter.com/lisahfitz/status/1282725117328601090

Photo via The Irish Walk/Facebook

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Morning Notes

New Residential Building Promises Daycare and Retail in Braddock Area — “Right now, that property is primarily garage and warehouse space for a variety of auto and other businesses.” [Alexandria Living]

Van Dorn, Eisenhower Metro Stations Reopening June 28 — “Several stations and stops were closed in March, in an effort to conserve cleaning supplies during the early stages of the pandemic.” [Zebra]

Residential Proposal Made for Old Town North Building — “The project, at 801 N. Fairfax St., goes before the City of Alexandria Planning Commission this Thursday and may go before the City Council on July 7.” [Alexandria Living]

Nectar Coffee & Wine Bistro Closes For Good — “Susan and I have made the extremely difficult decision to close Nectar permanently. We have loved our business, awesome staff, customers and neighbors and are truly grateful for your business over the past 3 years. See you in the neighborhood!” [Facebook]

The Water Taxi is Back — “On June 22 the Potomac Water Taxi resumed service between Alexandria, National Harbor, and the District. Dining cruises resume on Saturday, June 27. To ensure the safety of all on board, a number of procedures are in place. The safety measures include requiring face coverings for all guests (ages 3 and up), physical distancing, touchless entry boarding and ticketing, and reduced capacity onboard.” [Zebra]

TEDxOronocoBayPark Cancels All 2020 Events — “We are excited to be bringing the TED content to the community virtually through the TED Circles program – save the date July 20 7 p.m.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Symphony Premiers Virtual Concert — “Welcome to Alexandria Symphony’s Garden Sounds! Enjoy music from ASO musicians and appearances from special guests Paula Poundstone, Alan Gilbert and more!” [Youtube]

New Job: Bartender — “Be a part the Silver Diner Family! We are hiring full-time Bartenders for all shifts for our Grand Opening in Alexandria! Full-time Bartenders at our established locations can make $400-$700 in tips per week!” [Indeed]

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Pines of Florence in Old Town (1300 King Street) has closed, though how permanent that close is remained unclear.

An employee of Pines of Florence said over the phone that the closure was due to redevelopment for the building approved last fall. The redevelopment is planned to turn the block into a four-story mixed-use development with 31 condominium units and 6,400 square feet of ground-floor retail

The employee said the last day the restaurant was open was last Saturday and that it is currently unclear whether the restaurant will reopen and, if so, where.

“It’s not a full good-bye,” a sign on the door of the building said, “just taking a little break.”

The sign directed the loyal patrons of Pines of Florence to the sister restaurant Rosemarino D’Italia, which has locations in Del Ray at (1905 Mount Vernon Avenue) and in D.C. (1714 Connecticut Avenue NW).

“Trust us, we’re extremely touched during [this] moment, feeling every single bit [of] happiness, sadness, shocked and pride,” the sign said. “Thank you everyone for allowing [us] to be part of your journey and we will continue to create new memories in the future.”

Staff photos by Jay Westcott

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Morning Notes

Uncertainty Lingers for Furloughed Alexandrians — “When Joy Phansond was furloughed from her job as sales coordinator at the Holiday Inn in Old Town, the temporary layoff was initially supposed to last until April 5. Then it was extended to May 5. Then it was extended again until June 5.” [Gazette]

Cinema Del Ray Canceled Due to Coronavirus — “Due to COVID-19, we must ensure the safety of our fellow community members by canceling Cinema Del Ray 2020. We greatly appreciate the support Cinema Del Ray has been shown in the past. We will be back next year, better than ever!” [Facebook]

Old Town Spanish Restaurant ‘La Tasca’ Files for Bankruptcy — “In the past two years, La Tasca has closed two locations in Chinatown and Clarendon.” [Washington Business Journal]

Food Trucks Lift Spirits in Cameron Station — “Rothschild started reaching out to various food truck vendors on March 25, and shortly thereafter she landed her first truck to visit the neighborhood, at the corner of Cameron Station Boulevard and Harold Secord Street – barbecue purveyor Smoking Kow. And neighbors were ready for a feast.” [Gazette]

Tenants and Workers United Raises $16K for Arlandria Community — “Many of our members have had their work hours reduced or been laid off completely. For the undocumented community, there is no social safety net: no unemployment benefits and no stimulus check from the federal government.” [actblue.com]

Contest: Alexandria Living Magazine Gives Away $600 in Merchandise — “Along with KH Giving, we can finally announce the winner of this week’s Mission Masks giveaway! Dixie won $600 worth of prizes including $250 in gift cards from Sweet Fire Donna’s, $100 from Chadwicks and $100 from Bastille and more! These gift cards are all purchased from local restaurants as a way to support them.” [Facebook]

Photos: Meal Distribution at William Ramsey Elementary — “Enjoy these photos of ACPS meal distribution at William Ramsey Elementary School. Thank you to volunteer and photographer, Chris Castillo.” [Facebook]

How Funeral Homes and Cemeteries are Coping in Alexandria — “Some immediate families of the deceased elect to have ceremonies recorded or live streamed for extended family and friends who cannot be present. Others are opting to hold a memorial service at a later date, when larger groups may be able to congregate, rather than a funeral with restricted attendees now.” [Alex Times]

‘La Brocante’ and ‘Top It Off’ Open This Weekend in Del Ray — “La Brocante and Top It Off are now both open on the weekends only (including TODAY until 5 p.m.), with social distancing measures in place (extra sanitizing, limits on the number of people in the stores, and face masks).” [Facebook]

‘Pacers Running’ Donates Shoes to ‘Together We Bake’ — “Thank you @runpacers and @on_running for giving running shoes to our TWB family! We’re excited to break in our shoes.” [Facebook]

New Job: Member Marketing Manager — “We are looking for someone passionate and analytical who loves product marketing. The purpose of this role is to help drive many stakeholders across many departments to inspire members to act on our top opportunities. If you love coordinating complex marketing campaigns, then this job is for you.” [Indeed]

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For David Erskine, the last 35 years have passed like the pages of a must-read comic book, and on Saturday he did the unthinkable and took down the sign outside his shop, Aftertime Comics.

“We’re all done here,” Erskine told ALXnow as he unscrewed the sign.

The coronavirus pandemic stalled his plans to reopen next month at a new location on N. Washington Street in time for the busiest day of the year — Free Comic Book Day on May 2. But with the day postponed, Erskin has decided to cool his heels until the smoke clears and restrictions are lifted before reopening his shop.

Most comic book sales for the shop are online, and interested customers will need to see what’s available on its Facebook page.

Like many superheroes, Erskine has another identity. By day he’s a general clerk for bulk mail with the U.S. Postal Service. He’s collected comic books since he was five years old, and got hooked selling them after attending his first convention in the early 1970s.

“People ask me all the time what kinds of comics should they invest in,” Erskine said. “You can never go wrong with Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Iron Man — the classics.”

Erskine added, “I don’t have a secret collection or anything. Anything we have we sell. I had a Superman number one, which I sold. It wasn’t in very good condition, but I owned it. I’ve also sold numerous Spider-Man number ones.”

The shop has also suspended buying comics from fans until further notice.

“I hope we reopen,” Erskine said. “My garage is completely full of comic books right now.”

WE ARE SHIPPING TO CUSTOMERS. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN HAVING YOUR BOOKS SHIPPED, PLEASE EMAIL AFTERTIMECOMIC@GMAIL.COM…

Posted by Aftertime Comics on Saturday, March 21, 2020

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It was just before midnight on Tuesday night when Two Nineteen Restaurant was forced to temporarily close down.

Really it was more like three businesses closing at once since the building at 219 King Street is home to The Bayou Room, an upstairs cigar lounge and the New Orleans-style French Creole restaurant. Old Town was quiet by the time the doors shut at 11:59 p.m. and there were hardly any cars or people outside.

“Some of our customers, they don’t have family,” said Two Nineteen’s owner Patty Charoentra to ALXnow. “They have no place to eat. They walk in to smoke cigars and eat and listen to music. People love this place like a second home. They come here to have fun, to take the stress out from their workplace. But even when we reopen, everything is not gonna be back to a normal life.”

Governor Northam’s Monday order prohibiting gatherings of 10 people or more and closing all restaurants except for carryout and takeout until April 24 was the final straw that forced Two Nineteen Restaurant to temporarily close — and it also meant closing its Bayou Room and cigar club.

One customer said that Two Nineteen’s cigar lounge is a favorite for her and her boyfriend. Usually on Tuesday the Holly Montgomery Band would be playing, but it’s impossible to pay for a band when there are only 10 people allowed in the entire establishment at one time.

“We all came because we knew that they are closing,” the customer said. “It’s surreal. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Charoentra and her husband Kelvin Eap, both immigrants from Thailand, have owned Two Nineteen since 2005. They employ 20 full and part-time employees, and their daughter is the manager.

“I worked very hard to make this place happen,” Charoentra said. “I worked three jobs and slept four hours a day until we could open our first restaurant. I’m here seven nights a week, believe it or not. I haven’t had a day off for several years. I don’t know what to do. We’ve stayed open so that we can keep the employees working. They’ve been deep-cleaning now for more than a week.”

The couple moved to the states from Thailand in the mid-80’s, and then 10 years later opened Thai Chef and Sushi Bar in Dupont Circle. They owned the restaurant for more than 20 years before selling it in 2017, and learned some valuable lessons along the way.

“Like during 9/11, you have to try to do your best every day and then know how to cut the expenses that [are] not needed, and then put yourself to work in as many areas as possible,” Charoentra said.

Bartender Manfredo Lagos is a native of Mexico, and said that his niece, who is a nurse, and her husband and son are infected with COVID-19 and are in a hospital in Mexico City. He said that he routinely sends them money and now feels powerless without a job.

“I’m not asking for anything,” Lagos said. “I’m Latino. I’ve lived in this country for 31 years, and work is hard. I’ll be in this atmosphere with the smoke and the whisky into sometimes late into the morning. We do what we have to do for our families.”

Lagos, who had to turn customers away because the restaurant reached its 10-person limit on Tuesday, said that Charoentra will send him home with a lot of food, and some cash.

“Patty is so great. She’s like the mother of this place,” Lagos said. “She’s gonna give me like 17 to-go boxes of food to take home. She is the best.”

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Alexandria has officially entered into the community spread phase of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Dr. Rina Bansal, president of Inova Alexandria Hospital.

That means that direct exposure to the virus can not be traced back to its source.

“Stay home and stay safe, and ask others to do the same. We are officially in community spread now,” Bansal told ALXnow. “This is the calm before the storm.”

There are currently four positive cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria, and Bansal said Alexandria Hospital treated up to 30 patients in its tented temporary auxiliary screening unit outside the emergency room entrance.

The tent has a 10-person capacity.

The hospital has restricted visitation, and is also asking that anyone feeling symptomatic should call ahead to warn staff. Uninsured patients will also be admitted, as their costs will fall under charity care for the nonprofit hospital system. Additionally, it has about 150 available beds at the moment, out of 303 beds in the entire facility, Bansal said.

“We are preparing for the worst,” Bansal said. “We have seen a significant number of patients coming into the emergency room, and we’ve seen patients come to our screening unit as well. “

Meanwhile, Alexandria business owners and residents are adapting to a completely changed city. The governor’s recent orders restricting occupancy at 10 people has shuttered dozens of restaurants and retailers.

On Thursday and Friday, Hillary Orr, the city’s deputy director for the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, erected “Reserved Parking” signs for curbside pickup outside of the remaining restaurants that are open.

“We have about four people working on it. We’ve been working mostly in Old Town North, Old Town on King Street and on Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray,” Orr said. “Hopefully we’ve heard from all of the businesses. We have a list.”

A number of local business owners have said they will not be paying their upcoming tax bill, including Rob Krupicka, a former member of the state legislature, city councilman and now-owner of Elizabeth’s Counter.

“It’s not going to be all right,” a business owner working from home told ALXnow.

Pat Miller is going to cancel the Del Ray Farmers’ Market on Saturday. The market has 20 vendors who rely on its weekly sales.

“It’s so unbelievable. I will cancel the farmers market,” Miller said. “But we will get through it. We will. Our community is so community-minded that if anybody needs help all you have to do is put the word out and you will have 50 people to help. That’s how we operate in Del Ray.”

Meggrolls at 107 N. Fayette Street is open for business, although indoor dining has been eliminated.

“We’re actually doing pretty good,” a staff member said. “Most of our orders are carryout anyway. So, it hasn’t been too bad.”

One Old Town bar had difficulty adhering to the 10-person rule on Thursday, and at one point had more than twice the legal limit with over 20 customers. The bartender said that she couldn’t serve an ALXnow reporter at the bar because there were too many people, but that he could be served in an uncrowded dining area.

Alexandria Police have not cited any businesses for not meeting the 10-person rule, spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow.

Mayor Justin Wilson said in an emergency meeting on Wednesday that businesses are suffering catastrophic losses and that the city needs to act quickly. Consequently, next Tuesday the City Council is scheduled to review measures to suspend the dining and transient lodging taxes.

Many businesses are getting creative. The Italian Place at 621 Wythe Street is now offering a free roll of toilet paper with every dinner order. Chop Shop Taco (1008 Madison Street) is offering two rolls and a $25 gift card, owner Doug Rashid said in an email.

https://www.facebook.com/theitalianplaceofoldtown/photos/a.1789392574606272/2595310894014432/?type=3&theater

Local grocery stores are also adapting to the pandemic.

On Friday, Giant Food announced that all of their regional stores will offer “dedicated shopping hours” from 6-7 a.m. for senior citizens 60 and older, and for people with compromised immune systems.

The Fresh Market at 3680 King Street has also set aside 8-9 a.m. for senior citizen shopping.

To Our Valued Guests:To best serve our community during this time, we are designating special shopping hours for…

Posted by The Fresh Market on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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