A local's guide to shopping

Fetch Dog and Cat Bakery and Boutique
101 S. Saint Asaph St.
(703) 518-5188

Marion Klein Mattioli, manager of Fetch, is passionate about animals. Upon my walking into her shop on a sunny Friday afternoon, she immediately began talking excitedly about her front store-window display. A Hawaiian luau theme, the window is an ode to Bo, the first dog.


Fetch has other stores on Capitol Hill and Barracks Row. Fetch recently began a gift card program for those who wish to give the animal lovers (or animals) in their lives a unique treat.

“We offer a lot of allergy-free treats since many animals have allergies just like people,” Mattioli said.

Fetch is small but cozy, and the displays look even good enough for a human to eat. The cupcakes are decorated in springtime colors and the cookies look a lot like shortbread sandwich cookies sold in most grocery stores.

“A man came in and bought some cupcakes for himself and almost ate one until we had to explain they were for dogs,” Mattioli said.

When I spent time in Fetch, two dogs came in, a miniature dachshund named Oliver and a terrier named Prince, who was a dead ringer for Toto in the Wizard of Oz.

Owner Dennis Bourgauot said that Old Town is exceedingly dog friendly. “We have lots of special events all year involving dogs, this Halloween we even had a trick-or-treat event for dogs,” he said. “Old Town really is a wonderful place to enjoy pets.”

125 S. Fairfax St.
(703) 548-1615

Hysteria celebrates its 10-year anniversary this September as a stylish, contemporary clothing boutique for women.

While browsing through Hysteria, I was pleased at the bright springtime clothing lines displayed. There were plenty of pink, green and yellow prints to satisfy your spring fever.

Manager Alicia McCaslin said that she works to carry new designers so women can wear clothing from Hysteria and not look like every other woman around town.

Hysteria is modeled after a lot of New York City boutiques, but with a small-town feel. McCaslin, an Old Town local, said that Hysteria has been a great asset to the Alexandria community since it opened.

“I love its small-town mentality,” she said. “I live only a block away and can get to work so easily.”

McCaslin always has had fashion in her blood and has a degree in design. She enjoys the fact that her work allows her to spend time with her two young children.

“Old Town is a great, historic community,” she said. “The ghost tours, cherry blossoms, it’s all so quaint.”

Dash’s of Old Town
1114 King St.
(703) 299-4015

Dash’s clothing stores have been around since the 1960s, with stores in Georgetown and downtown, but the Old Town location just opened five years ago.

Victor Dash, owner of the Old Town location, enjoys doing business in Old Town because he doesn’t have to put himself in someone’s shoes. “I don’t have to downshift or upshift myself,” he said. “I also just really like Old Town a lot.”

Dash was born into the clothing business and is very passionate about it. “I can’t think of any other things that I would like to do really,” he said. “Every time a customer comes in and says, ‘I wore what I bought’ or ‘what you made for me,’ is the best day.”

When customers are happy, the way their attitude and even their walk changes, Dash said. “If whatever you’re putting on doesn’t move and inspire you, then the clothes aren’t doing their job.”

Dash, who sees about 40 to 60 customers per month, recently held a trunk show at the end of April with special deals on suits. For more information on Dash’s, visit www.dashsofoldtown.com.

Fountains Day Spa
422 S. Washington St.
(703) 549-1990

Suzanne Olsen, founder of Fountains Day Spa, has been working in the Old Town area for a little over 30 years. Fountains, the day spa she’s been running in a 200-year-old townhouse, is the oldest day spa in Alexandria.

Olsen said that Fountains prides itself on a holistic approach, including nutrition and homecare, and her therapists are well trained to provide homecare and advice.

Olsen is a Guinot skincare product expert and has been since 1973. She was trained in Paris and London. Guinot’s cornerstone, the Hydradermie facial, recognizes the skin as a living organ.

In the afternoon that I spoke with her, Olsen had one client coming in who was overdue with her baby by a few days. Through certain types of massages, one can stimulate specific areas by helping to bring the body back into balance.

“Our clients who have had this massage end up going into labor within 24 hours,” Olsen said. “We don’t claim the baby reputation, but it is a fun side fact.”

Olsen, who enjoys the neighborhood in the autumn and spring, said that the great thing about Old Town is that if you go down King Street or any of the side streets where the stores are, people are intimate and friendly.

“It’s a real community,” she said. “There’s wonderful bakeries, cupcake stores, art galleries. It’s really everything you could want within walking distance.”