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Old Town Boutiques Hold Scavenger Hunt

The Old Town Boutique District is celebrating its first anniversary by giving away more than $5,000 in gift cards and gifts from participating merchants during its Second Annual Scavenger Hunt Sept. 18-20. There are 27 boutiques in the district.

Subscribers to Boutique Buzz, the Boutique District's e-mail newsletter, will receive Scavenger Hunt passports in their e-mail inbox. Passports can also be downloaded from the Boutique District's web site, www.oldtownboutiquedistrict.com/scavengerhunt.

When they visit participating stores, shoppers will show their passports to the merchants to receive free gifts they can use to build their own gift bags. Each store will offer free items that scavenger hunters can pick up and add to their collections. They can collect as many or as few items as they want.

No purchase is necessary to receive the free gifts, but shoppers must have their passport.

Shoppers can use their passports to collect stamps from each of the participating merchants and enter to win the prize drawing.

"We thought this would be a fun way to encourage shoppers to visit more independent Alexandria shops and boutiques," said Amy Rutherford, owner of Red Barn Mercantile. "They can get free gifts from the merchants of their choice, or if they really want to win big, they could visit every store and see all that Old Town's retailers have to offer."

The first place prize winner will receive $2,700 in gift cards — $100 from each participating merchant. Twenty-seven second-place winners will each receive a $100 gift card from a participating merchant drawn at random.

To qualify for the drawings, shoppers must collect stamps from each of the 27 merchants between Friday, Sept. 18, and Sunday, Sept. 20. No purchase is necessary to receive a passport stamp.

"We did something similar last year when we launched the Old Town Boutique District and many long-time Alexandria residents were happy that we gave them an excuse to visit stores they had never been to before," Rutherford said.

"And it also drives home the point of supporting local merchants," she said. "We have a lot of wonderful shops and boutiques right here in Old Town, you don't have to drive out to Tysons Corner or the outlet malls to find great deals on quality merchandise. And when you shop locally you are also supporting the Alexandria community because more money stays here in our local economy."