Since 1999, the specialists at VA Runner have outfitted customers with footwear for varied terrain, from local hiking trails to urban sidewalks. Although the staffers specialize in technologically advanced running shoes, they also work to make sure their clients are comfortable during everyday tasks such as walking the dog or pirouetting gracefully across slick supermarket floors. They call upon specialized knowledge in the fields of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics to ensure a proper fit and enjoyable workout for each customer. The store also hosts races and running events, which can be viewed on its event page.
A regular fixture on the top-50 running-stores list published annually by Running Insight, Potomac River Running is a family-owned business of running enthusiasts and professional coaches who aim to spread a joy of running and walking around the Washington, DC, area. Focused on providing a fun and welcoming environment for people of all fitness levels, Potomac offers brand-name footwear and apparel for feet and the bodies attached to them. The custom shoe-fitting process begins with an iStep foot scan and a video gait analysis to analyze your step and the shoe that would best complement it. Once toe-holders have been measured and monitored, slide them into a pair of running or walking shoes ($80–$180), and then top off your lower half with running shorts ($25–$40) or cloak your supra-belt region in a shirt ($20–$120).
Juicy tidbits of chocolate-dipped fruit arrive on the doorsteps of family and friends, done up in colorful baskets, bouquets, and gourmet boxes by the skilled fruit arrangers at Edible Arrangements' more than 1,100 franchises worldwide. The company's Fruit Experts drizzle strawberries, daisy pineapples, apples, bananas and oranges in semi-sweet and white chocolate. These are supported by undipped but still-delectable fruits such as honeydew, cocount, mango, kiwi, grapes, watermelons, and cantaloupe. Once properly chocolated, the workers organize the preservative- and sweetener-free treats into lush arrangements that resemble flowers in bloom. Arrangements come in a variety of vessels, including vases, mugs, and sports- or holiday-themed containers that add a personal touch to the edible gifts, which can also be supplemented with cards, plus bears, and mylar balloons. Alternatively, customers can opt for the cheery, red-lidded gourmet chocolate fruit boxes, nestling 12 chocolate-dipped morsels inside to build anticipation and determine if loved ones have x-ray vision as they guess whether fruit will come dusted in shredded coconut or rolled in crushed almonds.
For the past 20 years, the technicians of Avons Services Inc. have showcased their mastery of the elements—air, specifically—to make homes comfortable habitats year round. They install and repair all makes and models of heating and air-conditioning systems so homeowners and business owners can exert complete control of their surroundings. The crew possesses the skills to tune up any aspect of a heating or cooling system, from installing the latest form of thermostat to clearing out blocked vents to adjusting systems in preparation for a new season.
Each of Merrifield Garden Center’s three locations overflows with thousands of plants throughout the year, encompassing such variety that a reporter for CNN’s Eatocracy claimed “I might as well endorse my paychecks straight to them…because I always want to grow what they've got.” Knowledgeable garden experts, 25 of whom have been with Merrifield for 25 years or more, guide customers through row upon row of flowers, trees, shrubs, and other plants, or help them sort through an extensive selection of bulbs and seeds. Visitors may also bump into the founders themselves, or their children and other family members, 38 of whom still work at the thriving business that started 40 years ago. Merrifield doesn’t just proliferate plants, however; amenities such as cafes in Gainesville and Merrifield and a dog park in Gainesville make each garden center into a leisure destination as well. Three of its garden gurus run an hourlong TV show that's been going for more than two decades, and other staff publish gardening advice on the website and Facebook. The staff also work to protect the environment with a variety of eco-friendly initiatives. Besides stocking native plants and water-saving devices for their customers, they also compost more than 20,000 tons of soil and 25,000 cubic yards of brush left over from their comprehensive landscaping services every year. The Gainesville location also gathers old concrete, metal appliances, and rusted Optimus Primes for recycling free of charge.