The Old Town Hive

Fashionistas flock to Alexandria’s trio of stylish shops.

Renée C. Gage

When a friend suggested to Elizabeth Todd that she open a shoe store in a tiny Old Town storefront, she jumped. “By the time I mentioned it to my husband, I was no longer pondering,” she recalls of her 2003 decision.

Catering to women seeking high-end brands found in department stores—but in a boutique experience—Todd’s Shoe Hive quickly carved out a specialty niche. Over the next decade, she grew the brand, tripling its floor space to become an established member of Old Town’s bustling business community.

Todd soon branched into accessories and jewelry, and when a few racks of clothing crept into the mix, she opened The Hive, in 2016. Specializing in accessible lines like Rag & Bone, Frank & Eileen, Sundry, and Tibi, The Hive was soon joined by Yellow Jacket, a menswear shop, last fall.

“I would like to be the Cheers of Old Town, where everybody knows your name,” Todd says. “What makes us stand apart is the community. We have wonderful customers who are loyal to us, and I have been lucky enough to have amazing people working at the stores.”

The brand’s online shop, which carries about 90 percent of The Hive’s inventory, has grown quickly during the pandemic as customers shifted to virtual shopping, taking style pointers from their blog, Instagram feed, and newsletter.

“It is really like we have four stores,” says Todd. “The Shoe Hive, The Hive, Yellow Jacket, and the web store.” A revamp of the website has paid off, too, she says: “We have reconnected with customers who had moved away, and met some new ones who live in places that don’t have shops like ours.”

Todd adjusts her inventory to reflect customers’ evolving preferences. She and her staff also mastered the pandemic hustle. “We did a different virtual trunk show every week for a few months,” she says. “We delivered items all over town, and when a sale hit, we had a sign-up where you could FaceTime the store virtually.”

Over the years, Todd’s intuitive business sense has served her retail hive well. “Ignorance has always been my biggest friend and work ethic, my ally. I don’t know how things are supposed to work. I just go.” TheShoeHive.com

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