Casper ‘Snooze Bar’ Offers Naps, Affordable Mattresses

June 29, 2015

Casper has been selling mattresses online hassle-free since 2013. But starting today, potential bed buyers can now try out the company’s product at a pop-up location in Georgetown.

The Snooze Bar will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 14 through May 17 at 3330 Cady’s Alley, featuring mattresses made from latex, memory foam and support foam.

The pop up will also make appearances in start-up capitals Austin, Texas and San Francisco, California from May 27 to May 31 and June 10 to June 14, respectively.

According to Casper’s website, customers can begin their mattress testing excursion by checking in with a concierge. Then, they can enjoy a waffle before lying on a Casper mattress inside a tent at the pop-up. After the set time is up, potential buyers choose a souvenir pillowcase and are on their merry way.

Coffee is available during the day while cocktails are available in the evening. Appointments last for 30 minutes and can be made online at casper.com/snoozebar/dc.

Consumers looking for a more traditional shopping experience should head to a Casper showroom in Los Angeles or New York.

Casper ships mattresses for free and a twin-size costs $500 while a king-size will run you $950. Any purchase can be returned for free within 100 days of buying the mattress.

Secor Group: On the Move at 125 years

May 22, 2015

Throughout its 125 years, the Secor Group, formerly known as Security Storage Company of Washington, has been led by just six individuals. Chuck Lawrence, who has been with the company for 26 years, is its current leader.

“We’ve reinvented it, while maintaining its history,” Lawrence said.

Secor Group recently revamped its logo and marketing campaigns to mark the milestone. But there will be no celebrations until the fall.

“This is our peak season,” Lawrence said of the summer. “We won’t have an anniversary party until September.”

A global force, the company operates in New Delhi, Belgium, 14 African nations and many other places around the world. About 40 percent of Secor Group’s business comes from D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut.

With its corporate headquarters on Florida Avenue, adjacent to Adams Morgan, Secor Group has large storage facilities at Dulles Airport and throughout the District, as well as 100,000 square feet of storage in Connecticut.

The company moved our most recent presidents into the White House. Its massive logistical operations support not only the movement of possessions, but also complete relocation services, including finding new housing at the destination, helping to close on the current property, locating schools and activities for children and setting up utilities for new homes.

The company motto has evolved along with its services: from “Keeping in safe custody” in its Security Storage Company of Washington days to “Assurance delivered” under the Secor Group umbrella.

According to Lawrence, it is the technology at the center of these operations that holds the company together. Secor Group is responsible for RedSky, the only software that creates a global database to track all elements of moving and relocation services.

This technology proved to be particularly important during the company’s involvement with shipping resources to West African countries on behalf of the U.S. government during the Ebola crisis.

The software allows clients, such as Anheuser Busch and the Department of State, to monitor the movement of their products and belongings, as well as to stay in constant contact with Secor Group staff.

Lawrence sees opportunities for growth through the acquisition of other companies. Secor recently purchased MilitaryOneClick, a website that receives two million hits a month and aims to provide military families with news and job listings. The company has also started working with Hiring Our Heroes to place veterans in positions throughout its transportation and relocation departments.

“We look to become more actively involved with the military,” Lawrence said.

Locally based and internationally minded, Secor Group appears to have hit on the perfect formula for continued success. All partnerships are highly integrated.

“It’s become like a family for a lot of us,” Lawrence said.

Tysons Corner Is Booming

May 21, 2015

“Welcome to Tysons. America’s Next Great City.” So reads the sign as you enter the Fairfax County, Virginia, revitalized commercial and business center on the border of McLean and Vienna.

The Plaza

Metrorail’s new Silver Line runs directly to the hub of activity. An overpass allows visitors to cross to The Plaza, with entrances to the Hyatt Regency, which opened in April, and the Tysons Corner Center mall. The Plaza itself is an entertainment venue, with a playground, Giant Jenga, a large chessboard and cornhole. It also hosts live music and a farmers’ market.

The Stores

Tysons is home to a wide variety of stores, including Lord and Taylor, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstorm, L.L. Bean, Old Navy, the Gap, Victoria’s Secret and Everything But Water. Some highlights for children include American Girl and the Disney and Lego stores. Dining options are scattered throughout the mall: Haagen-Dazs Café, Coastal Flats, Shake Shack, Luciano, Chipotle, Brio Tuscan Grille and more. Visitors can top off the experience by catching a movie on the third level of the complex at the AMC Theatres’ Tysons Corner 16 near the food court.

The Hyatt

“We were built as an amenity to the mall, but it goes well beyond that with all the businesses coming into the area,” says Dan Amato, general manager of the Hyatt Regency, who has worked for Hyatt for 39 years. This is his 15th hotel and his fifth opening.
Many elements of the hotel’s design are inspired by fashion and the close proximity to the mall. The glittering light fixtures in the lobby, leading from the check-in desk to the elevators, are modeled after women’s tennis bracelets. A series of hanging lights by the ballroom incorporate pearl-like orbs to mimic earrings.

Amato takes prides in the unique characteristics of this hotel. “There’s not one like it in our portfolio,” he says. The hotel features a large ballroom perfect for conferences, as well as several other meeting rooms.

The corporate lounge area is cozy with books and knickknacks surrounding comfy chairs and coffee tables. Coffee and drinks are available all day long; breakfast foods are served in the morning and hors d’oeuvres in the evening.

Bushel and Barrel, the restaurant inside the Hyatt, was created specifically for the Tysons location. The menu offers classic American favorites with a twist, as well as 22 craft beers from local breweries. “There’s a lot of character in every dish,” Amato says.

The interior is modern and clean with just a touch of rustic charm. High glass ceilings and transparent walls create an open and relaxed environment. Beer kegs are on display. The wood tables have stools that swing out on a hinge for seating, but otherwise remain invisibly tucked underneath. Terrace dining, which looks out on The Plaza, is also available and a private dining room can be booked for events.

Vita

Vita, a new luxury apartment building, is opening at Tyson’s Corner Center. The 30-story building is filled with studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and penthouse apartments. There is a rooftop pool with cabanas, a sky lounge with an indoor/outdoor cantina and an all-season outdoor terrace with grills. The official opening will take place by the fall, but leasing has begun.

Rash of Car Break-ins Leads to Arrest


A local man, Jahmar Thaxter, was arrested April 22 in connection with 19 car break-ins that took place across the District in areas from Tenleytown to Georgetown. According to court documents, Thatxer is also under investigation for the killing of a 76-year-old Korean grocery store owner last summer.

Thaxter, 23, was arrested after his GPS ankle monitor placed him at scene of thefts that occurred from late February through March, according to his arrest warrant.

He is believed to have been near the location of 10 other car break-ins (included in the total 19) at the times they occurred. As many as seven cars a day were entered in order to steal items such as laptop computers, purses and jewelry.

According to court documents, MPD detectives have sought DNA samples from Thaxter that may tie him to the homicide of James Oh, who owned Gold Corner Market in 16th Street Heights. Oh and his wife were assaulted during a robbery of their store in July 2014. He suffered multiple skull fractures, which led to his death four days later.

The arrest warrant does not explain why Thaxter was wearing a GPS monitor or what prompted police to track his movements. However, he was released from jail, following his arraignment on the conditions that he wear a GPS monitor and check in with a probation officer.

Remembering Fallen D.C. Firefighter Kevin McRae


Lieutenant Kevin McRae of the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department died on Wednesday morning, May 6, after combating a blaze at an apartment complex in Shaw. He collapsed after the fire was contained, and the cause of his death is not yet known.

The 44-year-old McRae, who lived in Waldorf, Maryland, began his career as a D.C. firefighter 25 years ago, working his way up through the ranks from cadet to lieutenant. He joined the fire department right after high school.

He was the 100th D.C. firefighter to die in the line of duty since 1856. This heroism ran in his family. McRae’s cousin, James J. McRae III, was the 99th firefighter to die in the line of duty. He died in 2007.

McRae is survived by his wife, Trell Parker-McRae, and his three children, Desmond McRae, Davon McRae and Kevon McRae. His children are ages 18, 19 and six, respectively.

McRae shared the love of his work with aspiring firefighters by teaching at the fire academy.

Flags in the District of Columbia are flying at half-mast in McRae’s honor. Engine 6 on New Jersey Avenue, where he worked, has black drapery over each of the station’s bay doors.
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Friday Is Bike-to-Work Day


This Friday, May 15, has been dubbed Bike-to-Work Day. Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association aim to gather more than 17,000 area commuters for a celebration of bicycling as a clean, fun and healthy way to get to work.

Bike riders can stop by one of 79 pit stops throughout D.C., Maryland and Virginia to receive refreshments and enter into a raffle for a bicycle giveaway.

Each pit stop will also provide registered attendees with free t-shirts. T-shirts are available to the first 14,000 who register and attend.

Cyclists can visit as many pit stops as they would like on Bike-to-Work Day. However, the free Bike-to-Work Day t-shirt can only be picked up at the pit stop one chooses while registering.

The Georgetown Business Improvement District has invited participants to come by its pit stop, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., at Georgetown Waterfront Park, where commuters can enjoy refreshments, snacks and bicycle-themed giveaways. Registration is free. The first 300 visitors will receive a Bike-to-Work Day water bottle.

Before the bike-themed festivities, the Georgetown Professionals, a networking group that hosts monthly happy hours, will partner up with Washington Area Bicyclists Association and the Georgetown BID on May 12 to host an afternoon bike-from-work day happy hour at Malmaison, starting 4 p.m., at 3401 K St. NW. Send RSVPs for the happy hour to erinflynn09@gmail.com.

Visit www.BikeToWorkMetroDC.org for more details.

One of Two ‘Good-Looking’ Thieves Arrested


A suspect believed to be one of the two well-dressed, “beautiful” robbers who mugged two Georgetown students (at two locations) at gunpoint has been arrested.

The suspect, Ja’khori Ellerbe, was apprehended by the Georgetown University Police Department around 5 p.m. on May 8, according to GUPD Chief Jay Gruber.

He was reportedly in possession of a silver revolver, which was the weapon used in the robberies that took place on the Georgetown campus.

The robberies occurred on May 6, according to authorities. One robbery took place on the 3700 block of O Street, Northwest around 10 p.m., and the other on the 1000 block of 31st Street, Northwest around 11 p.m.

Ellerbe was charged with two counts of armed robbery and carrying a pistol without a license.

Authorities are still looking for a second suspect involved. The individual has been described as a black female in her 20s, tall, with a thin build and a light complexion. She was wearing a black ball cap.

Another “Sharp Dressed Bandit” was arrested in April in Arlington for committing a series of bank robberies in Dupont Circle, Old Town Alexandria and Ballston. His given name is Sunny Parekh.

Second Life: Jim Graham Does Adult Entertainment

May 11, 2015

Former D.C. Council member Jim Graham is taking on a new career. He is now special events director at the House, a strip club on Georgia Avenue NW. A supporter of adult entertainment during his time on the Council, Graham proposed legislation to make it easier for strip clubs to open.

The club’s gay-night series debuted Sunday, April 19, with a show called “Rock Hard Sunday.” Cover for the debut was $15, a third of which was donated to Whitman-Walker Health, which provides primary-care services to the LGBT community. The Washington Blade reported that the male dancers were going to make good use of Graham’s signature accessory, the bow tie.

“They are going to put them on and at some point they will dispose of the bow ties in the audience,” Graham was quoted as saying. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.” Graham is also in charge of the Thursday night series, which features nude male dancing for women.

“I wanted something that was fun, and quite honestly, I want to make a buck or two,” he said in an interview with NBC Washington about his new job. (Once upon a time, Graham attempted to get his current employer’s liquor license revoked.) In addition, Graham is working as a consultant for Clean and Sober, a nonprofit that aims to help those recovering from substance abuse.

Mika Brzezinski Wants You to Know Your Value


Mika Brzezinski may be the co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and a New York Times best-selling author, but she’s also leading a conversation about empowering women in the workforce. And she’s bringing that conversation to D.C. this May.

“I developed the message for 40-something women like myself,” Brzezinski said.

However, the dialogue created by her book, “Know Your Value,” has captured a far wider audience. “This message is universal,” she said. “It’s for women of all ages, stages and choices.”

Brzezinski is bringing a “Know Your Value” conference to town next month, with appearances by her “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Brooke Shields and others. The event will take place May 15 at the Marriott Marquis at 901 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Brzezinski encouraged women to enter in the “Grow Your Value Bonus Competition.” Participants must submit a video pitch explaining why they deserve a bonus in one minute or less. Videos can be submitted at msnbc.com/know-your-value. Deadline for submissions is Sunday, April 19.

“I got so much response. Women were coming up to me everywhere,” she said. “I knew there needed to be more to the conversation.”

Her next book called “Grow Your Value: Overcoming Roadblocks to Women’s Success” will be available May 12.

The “Know Your Value” tour will continue through November, making stops in Boston, Chicago and Orlando. Check msnbc.com/knowyourvalue for details and tickets to the May 15 D.C. event.

Keeping It Close to the Chest with Boobypak


Very few people can say they started their own business on their lunch break, but Christina Conrad of Boobypack did just that.

She said the idea came to her over one weekend hanging out with some girlfriends in a tiny New York City apartment.

“For the rest of the night ‘Boobypack- the fannypack for your rack’ is all I could think about,” Conrad said. “The next day I went into my day job at Time Inc. and during my lunch break started googling how to file for an LLC.”

The innovative product was inspired by her friends mentioning that they lost or damaged their phones at an outdoor music festival in Miami. Conrad wanted to create an alternative for ladies who wanted to go out without a purse—particularly for outdoor events.

But Boobypack’s mission does not end with the bra bag.

After starring on the popular ABC show Shark Tank, Conrad says she started to think about the bigger picture. “Our biggest take away from Shark Tank was that there are a lot of other markets out there interested in our rack packs,” Conrad said.

The company is currently working on a less revealing Boobypack for impact athletic activities, as well as a comfier version for travel.

“We’ve even had moms tell us it’s perfect for cruise ships, so that they never lose their room keys!” she said.

An unexpected use for the product is that it can store insulin pumps for diabetics, who have written to the company and posted pictures showing their special take on the Boobypack.

The company wants to work on improving its designs for all sorts of women while continuing to sell and distribute the original Boobypack products online.

“We’re a company made up of women, making a product specifically for women,” she said. “So female empowerment comes naturally to us. It’s in our DNA.”

Boobypack is super involved in the social media sphere, using hashtags like #believeinyourSHELFIE and #Girlboss frequently on Instagram.

“Being a Boobypack Angel means you’re a confident, active woman with a sense of humor,” Conrad said. “A #girlboss who believes in her #shelfie if you will.”