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Alexandria land use attorney Cathy Puskar claps at the Chamber ALX Best In Business awards, October 27, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

The Chamber ALX has released the finalists for the Best in Business Awards, and the top businesses will be announced at a gala in Old Town next month.

It’s no secret that Don Simpson, Jr. is the chamber’s 2023 business leader of the year, since that cat was let out of the bag last month. Just who will receive the other highly coveted awards, however, is still secret. This year’s nominees are listed below, and winners are determined by a panel of previous awardees.

The Best in Business Awards, presented by Burke & Herbert Bank, will be held at the Westin Old Town Alexandria (400 Courthouse Square) from 6 to 9 p.m. The event costs $125 for members and $150 for non-members.

Land use attorney Cathy Puskar was named business leader of the year last year. Read more about last year’s event here.

Alexandria’s 2023 Best In Business finalists

Small Business of the Year

Medium Business of the Year

Large Business of the Year

Rising Star Business of the Year

Nonprofit & Association of the Year


T.J. Maxx is planning on moving to a sectioned-off portion of the former Shoppers Food Warehouse in Potomac Yard next month.

T.J. Maxx staff told ALXnow that the store will move from its current location at 3451 Richmond Highway and reopen at 3875 Richmond Highway on Thursday, Oct. 19.

The former Shoppers closed in 2020 and until recently was expected to be transformed into an Amazon Fresh.

Now with those plans scrapped, T.J. Maxx will take up more than half of the 50,000 square foot former grocery store, which was divided into two properties (3875 and 3801 Richmond Highway).

“The sign is up and we’re moving,” a T.J. Maxx employee said. “We’re reopening on Oct. 19. It’s very exciting, after being here all these years.”

Potomac Yard is managed by JBG Smith Properties and JPMorgan Chase & Co., which are both overseeing a massive mixed-use development of the area.


Frank Kozuch sits behind the counter Whistle Stop Toy & Hobby with the agreeable air of a man who’d rather talk than sell.

But, he tells ALXnow, sales right now are better than ever.

The owner of the hobby shop in Fairlington Centre says that the key to his success has been adapting to the times. Gone are the days he mostly sold model trains: today, Whistle Stop Toy & Hobby caters to more hobbyists with varied interests, including board games, puzzles, kites, rockets, models and figurines.

“Too many people in life want to tell you what you should do,” Kozuch said. “Your hobby should never be that. It should be what you want.”

Kozuch’s lifelong hobby is trains. He got his first train set when he was just a year-and-a-half old, and later built his first large set on a ping pong table in the basement of his parents’ home.

He abandoned the pursuit as he got older and it was not until his mid-30s he became reacquainted with model trains. By that time, he’d earned a degree in computer science from the University of Maryland and was working as a government contractor building computer systems for the Department of Defense and the Census Bureau, among other departments.

He began selling model trains and equipment at train shows in 1993, slowly expanding these operations until he opened a brick-and-mortar shop in 2005. Even with the changes, the shop has nearly everything a model train enthusiast could ask for, from complete train sets to model buildings, trees and grass.

“The store is 85% different than when I first opened in 2005,” Kozuch said. “I wish I could sell 100% trains, but you have to be able to expand and change.”

Prompted by the pandemic, Kozuch added more supplies to cater to to the influx of parents who needed activities to do with their kids while stuck at home together. This surge in demand buoyed Whistle Stop Toy & Hobby, like other hobby shops across the country, when other retail stores were struggling.

“The government told them to stay home and they bought puzzles, models, and LEGOs for the kids,” Kozuch said, “anything with a lot of pieces to keep junior happy for two or three days.”

Families were not the only group coming to Kozuch, however. Many adults came to the store for the first time, nostalgic for and ready to dive back into childhood hobbies.

“When I come in here,” one customer told him, “this puts me back into a real calm place when I was eight years old building models.”

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The 7-Eleven at 1025 W. Glebe Road is no longer open 24 hours a day.

A rash of overnight robberies prompted store management to close the store from 12 to 4 a.m. last month.

This afternoon, in fact, ALXnow observed Alexandria Police investigating the theft of three cases of beer from the store. No one was hurt in the incident and no one was arrested, although store staff say that thefts are becoming commonplace.

“A man and a woman walked in and took three cases,” the employee said. “That’s why we had to adjust our hours.”

The nearest 24-hour 7-Eleven is located at 3412 Mount Vernon Avenue, although the doors are locked after midnight and customers have to knock for entry.

Earlier this summer, two 7-Eleven convenience stores in the city were robbed. Earlier this year, Giant Food also made changes to its operations due to an increase in shoplifting incidents.


A long vacant Arlandria convenience store just landed Dollar Tree as a new tenant.

The former CVS at 3811 Mount Vernon Avenue did not renew its lease more than a decade ago, and the 11,300-square-foot property has been vacant ever since. Over the last several weeks, contractors have erected the Dollar Tree sign on the building and installed store fixtures.

The Finmarc Management, Inc. property is located in the Del Ray North Shopping Center, which has struggled with occupancy for the last several years.

A contractor on the project told us he expects to finish the interior renovation within the next few weeks, although could not offer any information on when the store will open.

There are more than 15,000 Dollar Tree locations throughout the country. The Chesapeake-based company did not return calls for comment.


Alexandria Police are investigating the theft of more than $500 worth of items from a CVS store near Potomac Yard on Saturday night.

At around 5:30 p.m., a man wearing a red shirt and black pants and carrying a black backpack allegedly put the items in a garbage bag and walked out of the store at at 2601 Richmond Highway, which is near the intersection with Swann Avenue.

Police responded about an hour later, according to scanner traffic. No one was injured in the incident and no arrest was made.

Anyone with information on this incident can call the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Images via Google Maps

Win prizes if you can spot Waldo at 25 Alexandria businesses (staff photo by James Cullum)

Where’s Waldo? Kids and parents with eagle eyes can spot him this month in 25 Alexandria businesses.

After you find Waldo at 10 businesses, spotters can collect prizes at Hooray for Books (1555 King Street) in Old Town. Collectors with at least 20 stamps on a passport (found at any participating business) can claim a Waldo temporary tattoo and store coupon.

The annual promotion will end with a grand celebration and prize drawing for a set of Waldo books at the store on July 31 at 4 p.m.

Find Waldo at these businesses:

  1. Alexandria Visitor Center (221 King Street)
  2. AR Workshop Alexandria (1212 King Street)
  3. Beeliner Diner (3648 King Street)
  4. The BEST Gift Shop (112 S. Patrick Street)
  5. Conte’s Bike Shop (1100 King Street)
  6. The Company of Books (2200 Mount Vernon Avenue)
  7. The Dog Park (705 King Street)
  8. fibre space (1319 King Street)
  9. Fresh Baguette (1101 King Street)
  10. Gold Works (1400 King Street)
  11. Happy Place (105 S. Union Street)
  12. Hooray for Books (1555 King Street)
  13. King Street Souvenirs (217 King Street)
  14. Lavender Moon Cupcakery (116 S. Royal Street)
  15. Pacers Running (1301 King Street)
  16. Penny Post (1201 King Street)
  17. Red Barn Mercantile (1117 King Street)
  18. Rocket Fizz (1701 Centre Plaza)
  19. Stitch Sew Shop (1219 King Street)
  20. Ten Thousand Villages (915 King Street)
  21. Today’s Cargo (1102 King Street)
  22. Turkish Coffee Lady (1201 King Street)
  23. The UPS Store (107 West Street)
  24. Uptowner Cafe (1609 King Street)
  25. Whistle Stop Hobbies (1719 Centre Plaza)
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Updated at 3 p.m. Three men broke into the 7-Eleven in Del Ray this morning, minutes after another 7-Eleven was robbed at gunpoint in the West End.

The suspects broke into the store at 2018 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray at around 2:15 a.m., according to the Alexandria Police Department. Two men wearing all black broke into the closed business while a third suspect remained in the driver’s seat of a silver Mercedes with D.C. tags. The ATM machine in the store was broken into and an undisclosed amount of cash was taken, according to store staff.

At around 2:45 a.m., the 7-Eleven at 4610 Kenmore Avenue, which is open 24 hours, was robbed by three men wearing all black. One of the men displayed a handgun and they made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

It is not clear if the incidents are related. No one was injured in either incident.

Anyone with information on the incidents can call the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Del Ray and West End images via Google Maps

A man allegedly displayed a handgun during an argument in the 3400 block of Richmond Highway in the Potomac Yard Shopping Center on May 17, 2023 (via Google Maps)

There were no injuries or arrests after a man allegedly displayed a handgun during an argument in the parking lot of the Potomac Yard Shopping Center on Wednesday afternoon.

Police were dispatched for an assault in the 3400 block of Richmond Highway at around 4:15 p.m. The victim told police that he got into another argument with a man just outside the Best Buy (3401 Richmond Highway) and that the suspect allegedly revealed a handgun in his waistband.

Nothing was stolen and there were no injuries reported, according to the Alexandria Police Department.

The suspect drove away in a white Jeep, and APD said it will continue to follow up on the incident.

Anyone with information on this incident can call the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Image via Google Maps

Crooked Beat Records is now closed at 802 N. Fairfax Street in Old Town. (Photo via Crooked Beat Records/Facebook)

Crooked Beat Records will reopen in Del Ray in the first week in June, owner Bill Daly tells ALXnow.

The record shop closed at 802 N. Fairfax Street in Old Town on April 29, a week after Record Store Day. Daly signed a five-year lease for the 1,200-square-foot basement in 2417 Mount Vernon Avenue — in the same building that houses Cheesetique, the Del Ray School Of Music and Piece Out Del Ray.

“We’re looking forward to reopening,” Daly said. “We’re getting there, but it’s a huge move. There’s a lot of stuff. We were hoping to open on Memorial Day weekend, but it’s likely to be the first week in June.”

Daly said he got more than enough volunteers to help with the move, which he says is 90% complete. The new store is about 200 square feet bigger than the Old Town location, and Daly said the new space will be used to sell more used records. Incidentally, the store isn’t buying used records at the moment since Daly just bought 6,000-to-8,000 old records from estate sales.

A former DJ at North Carolina State University, Daly worked for a record shop chain for years before founding Crooked Beat Records in 1997 in Raleigh. He moved the business to Adams Morgan in D.C. in 2004 and then to Alexandria in 2016.

“It’s bittersweet to close in Old Town,” Daly said. “We’re going to miss it here. In our 25 years this was the best location. Parking was easier and our business increased by 20% than Adams Morgan. Here (in Old Town) they pulled right up, and we were a destination point for people who were into vinyl. They came from Baltimore, Richmond, the Eastern Shore, all over.”

Daly says that updates on the new location will be posted on the Crooked Beat Instagram page.

“The new underground space is going to be great,” he said. “Customers who have seen it say it reminds them of underground record shops in Seattle and Boston.”

Image via Crooked Beat Records/Facebook

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