Local arts retailer gets award

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Growing up in a small town, Pat Miller, co-owner of A Show of Hands, in Alexandria, noticed the small town atmosphere in Del Ray and worked on promoting that feel while making her store a focal point in the local art scene. Others noticed that community spirit, and the Virginia Retail Merchants Association recently awarded A Show of Hands the Retailer of the Year award for 2007.

A Show of Hands specializes in local art, highlighting local artists while adding to the artsy feel of Del Ray, turning it into a destination for shoppers, which is an indirect goal of Millers and co-owner Maria Wasowskis efforts.

I believe very strongly in giving back to the community thats given so much to me, said Miller.

Del Ray events that Miller has been involved with include the Farmers Market, Arts on the Avenue, First Thursday, and the Halloween Parade. By promoting local events, Millers efforts trickle down to every business in Del Ray. She also was indirectly responsible for a feature story in the Hemisphere Magazine at United Airlines, increasing Del Rays exposure. Im event oriented, Miller said.

Miller is also on the board of the Potomac West Business Association so shes in touch with other aspects of the business community besides the artist, and created the Retail Committee in the association.

Miller and Wasowski were nominated by Rep. Adam Ebbin (D-49) because they provide an excellent example of how retailers can network to grow their businesses, as stated on the nomination write up. Ebbin noted the synergy created by the store to spur economic development with art in particular, he said. Laurie Peterson Aldrich, the VRMA president, said that A Show of Hands is an excellent example of how retailers can network to grow their businesses.

Wasowski has the same attitude. Thats really our mission; were about promoting the artists, she added, crediting Miller for inspiration. We call her our Energizer Bunny, Wasowski said.

Inside A Show of Hands, the shelves are filled with art consisting of earrings, bracelets, paintings, sculpture and accessories. To homeowners in Del Ray, an original artwork by a local artist is unique. Theres a nice synergy there, said Wasowski. The earrings are a big seller, added Miller. Weve got such unusual kinds, theyre all handmade, she said.

The word has gotten out about Millers success with community events and shes been asked to help out with the T.C. Titans Expo and the West End Farmers Market.

Currently, Miller is working on the Holiday Illumination on Dec. 1, to kick off the shopping season.

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