(Updated at 12:35 p.m.) The Potomac River Running store (PR) is leaving its Ballston location (3924 Wilson Blvd), but the store isn’t moving far. It’s heading to the other side of Ballston in the old Alliance Bank (4501 N. Fairfax Drive) space along Glebe Road.
Ray Pugsley and his wife Cathy own the family business along with Cathy’s sister, Margie Shapiro, and Margie’s husband, Brendan. Pugsley said a number of factors contributed to the couples’ decision to move.
First, PR currently rents from Conte’s Bicycle and Fitness, and the lease is up at the end of January. Pugsley said because of the sublet situation, PR doesn’t have long term control over the space. The owners of PR had concerns about what ultimately would happen to the single-level building.
“All low buildings in Arlington become tall buildings, so there was uncertainty going forward what would happen to that spot,” said Pugsley. “There’s no plan, but given that other things were important to us, we figured we would not wait until the time when everyone had to get out because someone is building there.”
Pugsley said another factor that’s been nagging him for years is the inability for customers to see the store due to the county’s sign restrictions. The new location will allow for high visibility at the corner of N. Fairfax Drive and Glebe Road.
“We just had a lot of people who said, even years after we were open, ‘I didn’t even know you were there!’” said Pugsley. “The way sign laws are in Arlington, we didn’t have a sign that was visible from the road because of our location in the building. We were thinking where can we go for better visibility and this spot was open.”
The final element making the location ideal is its proximity to trails. PR offers various training programs and running groups which will benefit from being closer to trail entrances.
“We put a lot of emphasis on our training programs, especially for beginner to newer runners. Not having to run around city blocks is more attractive to someone who is just getting into running,” said Pugsley. “It’s got a lot of good options for folks who can’t run that far or haven’t built up their fitness yet. In the current location, by the time you get to a trail you have to turn around and come back.”
As far as parking concerns at the new, higher traffic location, the building offers parking in its underground garage. PR will validate on weekdays from 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. for half an hour, and for an hour after 5:00 p.m. and on weekends.
Although no definite moving date has been set yet, Potomac River Running will be in its new space by the end of January. There will be a grand re-opening at some point, but the owners haven’t decided if they would prefer to wait until the spring for better weather. The owners will send out a notice on social media before the current location closes, and they’ll try to do the entire move in one day.
“We’re excited about this location,” Pugsley said. “It’s a little bigger and we liked the idea of being closer to the trails. I really hope this conveys how much we’re looking forward to being in the new place.”