(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) After more than 200 years in business, Alexandria’s Smoot Lumber yard is shutting down today.
The Alexandria-area supplier of mouldings, doors and windows has been a staple for local builders since it was founded in 1822, and now its owner Builders FirstSource says that customers should visit its lumber yards in Manassas, Manassas Park, Springfield and in Waldorf, Maryland.
Builders FirstSource is at a “juncture of change,” Market Manager James Barbes wrote in a Nov. 29 letter to customers. Barbes did not say what the future holds for the sprawling property at 6295-20 Edsall Road.
“After thorough consideration, we are announcing the integration of our Smoot Lumber location with our other local Builders FirstSource and TW Perry locations. This strategic consolidation allows us to streamline operations while continuing to provide you with the exceptional service and premium Smoot moulding profiles you’ve come to rely on.”
Barbes continued, “Our commitment to Alexandria’s rich heritage remains unwavering, and we are pleased to assure you that a line of historical Smoot moulding profiles will continue to be available.”
Barbes also said, “the experienced and dedicated team members from Smoot Lumber will seamlessly transition to new roles within the market, ensuring that your interactions with us remain as dependable and customer-focused as ever.”
The transition isn’t seamless for all employees. Ed King has worked at the lumber yard for 27 years, 14 as a manager. He was told on Wednesday that his last day would be on Dec. 30, after he helps with the transition.
“I ain’t missed a day in 27 years,” King said. “I know every stick of wood in this joint.”
King said he was offered a severance package and will take the next six months off.
“I’m going to take a vacation and then decide what’s next after that,” King said. “I deserve a little break, but I’m sad to see it go. This has been my home away from home.”
Mike Dameron, owner of Alexandria-based Windmill Hill Home Design Build, said it’s a big loss for local builders.
“In one way or another, Smoot Lumber has been an integral part of the local and regional construction supply community for longer than any of us have been in business,” Dameron said. “It will be a major loss to see them leave the city.”
A brief history of Smoot Lumber is below.
Founded in 1822 in Alexandria, Virginia under the name J.H.D. Smoot, Smoot has been through many changes over the years, including name changes such as W.A. Smoot, Smoot Lumber & Coal, Smoot and Co., Smoot Lumber, and now part of the BMC family as BMC Smoot Lumber. Over the years, Smoot has sold lumber, coal, sand, gravel, salt and plaster, with the mainstay being custom high-end millwork and mouldings.
While Lincoln and Douglas were holding their great debates of 1858, Smoot Lumber had already been supplying millwork to many of the most important buildings in our nation’s capital. After the destruction of the Civil War, Smoot was there to help rebuild Washington and Alexandria. And when the National Park Service needed to find clear fir boards in order to build extra bleachers for President Kennedy’s funeral processions, Smoot was honored to answer the call and play a small part in history.
Over the years, Smoot has also worked on other important historical landmarks to include The White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Smithsonian, and Mount Vernon.
(Updated 10/13) Chris Harvey is retiring and hopes to sell his hardware store in Del Ray as-is before the end of the year. If that doesn’t happen, he plans on selling all his merchandise at deeply discounted rates.
Chris and his brother Gary Harvey opened Executive Lock & Key Service at 2003 Mount Vernon Avenue in the mid 1990s. Chris runs the business now and Gary says he’s been trying to get his brother to retire for years.
“Hopefully I can sell it and pass the torch, because everyone in town doesn’t want us to leave,” Chris said. “Put your money together. I don’t want that much. You get half a dozen guys together and you have your workforce right there. And you all say ‘Hey, we’re the owners of a hardware store,’ and you can drink your latte and go up and down the street.”
The Harveys are T.C. Williams High School graduates and got into the hardware store business in 1986 by opening locations in Crystal City. One of their True Value stores was only 800 square feet, and Gary says it was the smallest store in the country.
“They had a 550-square-foot location in Chicago that burned down, so we took the title after that happened,” Gary said. “We had a unique clientele and we didn’t sell lawnmowers or chainsaws. We made it cutting keys and selling picture hooks and little hammers and stuff.”
Chris said that he’ll keep his rolodex of 400 customers for his key-making business, which will continue on more of a freelance basis, he said.
“I’m going to miss it, especially all the customers,” Chris said. “It’s all I’ve known, getting up early and going to work, and I like to BS with folks. I’m a BS-er. My dad was military, so if we wanted things in life we had to work. From the time I was a snotty nosed kid, I was out on a paper route, cutting grass, raking leaves.”
The small neighborhood hardware store is full of merchandise, which Chris says he will discount and sell off unless he can find a new owner to take it as-is.
“But if you’re going to buy it, you’re gonna have to commit,” he said. “I’ve had a couple of people who backed out the last minute and I told them they they wouldn’t fit in because they knew nothing about hardware. You got to be married to the business and be ready to not get home for dinner all the time. You’ve got to begin here in the trenches and be passionate about helping people.”
H/t to John Antonelli
After decades in business, a local restaurant near Alexandria’s West End border will close at the end of the month.
Foxfire Grill owner Terri Fox recently announced the closure on the company website and social media. The restaurant with American fare at 6550 Little River Turnpike has weathered mixed reviews over the years, and even got a makeover in 2019 from celebrity chef Robert Irvine from Restaurant Impossible.
Fox bought the restaurant in 2003 and partner Jackie Coppage joined in 2016. She and Coppage were unable to renew their lease at the Pinecrest Plaza location.
“It comes with a heavy heart to inform you that Foxfire Grill will have to close our doors October 31st,” Fox wrote. “We made it through Snowmageddon, the Derecho, an earthquake, and of course COVID. All with the support of this wonderful community.”
Fox said she enjoyed watching her customers and staff grow over the years.
“I truly want to thank you all for everything you’ve done for us and by extension each other,” Fox wrote. “I hope to see you often in the next couple of weeks!”
Get your favorite Italian dish while you can, because A La Lucia will likely close by the end of the year, the restaurant’s owner tells ALXnow.
After more than 20 years in business, the popular Italian restaurant at 315 Madison Street will not relocate when Carr Companies starts construction on two acres of redevelopment for their Montgomery Center property in Old Town North.
Owner Mehran Nayeri was supposed to close by the end of this month, but shopping center management recently told him that they, The Art League and other tenants can stay in business at least until the end of the year.
“We’ve had a great ride over here,” Nayeri said. “But it’s time to move on. We had great customers, the best, and they supported us through the pandemic, which was amazing.”
Carr Companies bought Montgomery Center for $35 million from MRW Properties Inc. in 2021. The 1970s-era shopping center will eventually be replaced by an eight-story, 350,000-square-foot apartment building with 327 residential units, more than 25,000 square feet of retail and a 13,300-square-foot performance venue.
The intimate, 60-seat restaurant in Old Town North won’t relocate, Nayeri said.
“Now is the time to come and get some Italian food,” Nayeri said. “We’ll be here until we can’t be here anymore.”
Nayeri said that he and his wife are retiring from the restaurant business and likely moving from the area. He also said that the restaurant will have a number of events during the last three months to sell all of its art, furniture and wine.
“The paintings on the walls are by local artists, and we’ll be having an auction this fall to sell them,” Nayeri said. “We’ve had great memories here. It’s been so good.”
Image via Facebook
The location’s closure is part of a broader sweep of closures following Independent Pet Partners filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. All stores outside of Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois will close.
Staff at Loyal Companion said they learned about the closure last Thursday. Pet grooming well end on Feb. 18 and the store will be closed by the end of the month, with all merchandise in the store set on sale before them.
According to a message on the company’s website:
To our Loyal Companion community,
With a heavy heart, we want to inform you that we’ve made the tough decision to close our Loyal Companion stores. We have loved serving the community and supporting you on your pet wellness journey.
Our stores will be open through the end of February. We will be offering liquidation discounts and we encourage you to take advantage of these great offers to get all the supplies you need.
While it’s hard to say goodbye, it’s easy to say thank you. Thank you for being part of our family. Thank you for caring about pet wellness. And thank you for supporting your local community.
We’ve enjoyed all the hugs and belly rubs along the way.
~ Your Loyal Companion Team
Updated at 10:45 a.m. Toppers Pizza officially closed its doors at 3827 Mount Vernon Avenue last month and there is now only one of the Wisconsin-style pizza locations left in Virginia.
Toppers opened in 2017 to great fanfare in Arlandria, and was supposed to be the flagship location of a 22-store deal with locations popping up throughout Northern Virginia. In 2018, the second store opened at 6676 Richmond Highway in the Groveton area of Fairfax County, and it remains the only location in the state.
The pizza shop was located in the Del Ray North Shopping Center, which has a number of vacant units and is managed by Finmarc Management, Inc.. In August, ALXnow reported that a plan to redevelop the shopping center was scrapped due to “worsening economic conditions,” and that Finmarc would instead continue leasing on the property.
A Toppers representative said that the company does not have future development plans for the area.
The phone number for the Groveton location is out of order, but the shop at 6676 Richmond Highway is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to midnight.
Updated 4:15 p.m. — After nearly 30 years in Old Town, Deli News & More closed last month for the last time.
The 7,800-square-foot space at 1406 King Street has since been leased to Ed McIntosh, one of the founders of Chop Shop Taco (1008 Madison Street). The shop will remain a convenience store, and it will be reopen in March as Eddie’s Little Shop and Deli.
“We will be specializing in prime rib sandwiches and handmade mozzarella along with a few other highlights,” McIntosh said.
The former owner of Deli News & More left a note of thanks on the front door of the business.
“It has been a privilege to be a part of this community,” owner Jong Suk Choi wrote. “Thank you for letting us serve you and please be well.”
Deli News & More opened as a newsstand in 1994, and served light breakfast fare, sandwiches and more. The “more” got the convenience store into trouble, prompting a City Council action approving the sale of alcohol on the premises in 2019.
After 10 years, EagleBank is closing its Alexandria branch on Friday, March 3.
The EagleBank branch at the Atrium building (277 S. Washington Street) will then transfer all its accounts to its Ballston Branch (4420 N. Fairfax Drive).
Customers received the news in a Dec. 27 letter from Conchita Lumpkins, EagleBank’s director of community banking.
“It has been an honor and pleasure to serve your banking needs at this location for many years,” Lumpkins wrote. “We look forward to continuing to serve you at the Ballston location or any of our branch offices.”
EagleBank CEO Susan Riel told the Washington Business Journal in November that the company faces staffing issues, real estate lending challenges and rising interest rates.
Last year, EagleBank and its former CEO Ronald D. Paul were fined millions for violating insider lending regulations, and Paul was banned from banking.
“Word on the street is true — after 14 years, Robert and I are permanently closing the shop December 24th and moving to warmer climates,” Hubbard wrote.
The 1,160-square-foot location will be available for lease on Jan. 15.
Hubbard and her husband, co-owner Robert Ludlow decided to close after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The couple will be moving to a warmer climate to be near family, she wrote.
“Last summer my body decided to stop working and I wa diagnosed with MS (that’s right, I’m in the cool kids’ club with Selma Blair and Christina Applegate),” Hubbard wrote. “Thanks you all for your generosity and support! Stop by this week to grab some holiday chocolates and say goodbye!”
Photo via fleurirchoc/Instagram
The store’s final day is set for tomorrow (Saturday) from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
The store is in the middle of the Montgomery Center, which developer Carr Companies is in the process of redeveloping. Taylor said the writing had been on the wall for a while.
“We were given significant advance notice that the building was being sold,” Taylor said. “My lease happens to run out in December. Demolition of the building is slated for maybe the end of the second quarter of next year, [around] June to October. At that point, all tenants will need to vacate.”
Taylor said he knew the development was coming sooner or later.
“There’s never any question that the Montgomery center will not be developed, we all knew that they had plans for the building,” Taylor said.
Wheel Nuts has been a fixture for local cyclists for over twenty years, with a location easily accessible from the Alexandria portion of the Mount Vernon trail. The business’ website said the shop opened in 1999, but by Taylor’s count it’s been around 25 years.
“We’ve been in business 25 years,” Taylor said. “It’s bittersweet. I’m the owner of the shop — my wife and I own the shop, and my wife just retired from the Fairfax County Park Authority, so it’s nice that we were able to tie it in with when she retired.”
Taylor said since announcing the store’s closure, he’s gotten a flurry of emails and texts and phone calls both from past customers and neighbors sharing just how important the shop was to them.
“I’m going to miss the work, I’m going to miss my staff, going to miss the community, going to miss cyclists that came off the trail,” Taylor said. “I’m saddened by it, but I’m excited for what the future holds.”
Taylor said he’s looking forward to new adventures when the pair move to a new home in West Virginia.
“We’re both into the outdoors and looking forward to mountain biking and skiing,” Taylor said. “We plan to do a lot of traveling and we’re excited to visit national parks, and do biking: we want to practice what we’ve been preaching for many years.”