“We’re three sisters shopping at 3 Sisters,” the woman in line ahead of me at the boutique said as she approached the front counter. She nodded to the two women standing next to her and laughed. “I bet you’ve never heard that before.”
“It happens all day long,” says Stavroulla Kokkinis — known to many as Stephanie — who runs the Old Town Alexandria store with her two older sisters, Athina Kohilas and Stella Koukides.
“We actually have a lot of sisters who work in the store, too.”
It speaks to the family-focused nature of the business, which began with 3 Sisters’ original location in 2011 and expanded to include a second store in Annapolis. The trio also helms the five locations of The Lucky Knot — Old Town, Leesburg, Annapolis, Baltimore, and Middleburg — as well as The Happy Place, a bright gift shop that debuted this past spring in Old Town and has elicited no shortage of communal joy, both in person and online. One customer’s TikTok post even went viral for homing in on the store’s feel-good vibes.
The sisters bring that same energy to each of their boutiques. It’s something they learned from their mother, Andrea Ploutis, a refugee who immigrated as a teen to Alexandria from Cyprus after the country was invaded by Turkey in 1974. Ploutis attended high school by day and worked at the former Andrea’s Restaurant on Richmond Highway, owned by her uncle, on nights and weekends.
“She struggled going to school here as an immigrant,” says Kokkinis, adding that her mom was picked on because she didn’t have a lot of money.
But what she did have was drive. Ploutis opened the former Classics and Country Gift Shop on Richmond Highway in 1985 and began selling her items at the weekend Old Town market. Before long, she was bringing her girls along to learn the retail ropes.
When Ploutis launched Andrea’s Boutique in Old Town some two decades later, Kokkinis was there to work alongside her. In fact, Ploutis’ youngest daughter was partly responsible for the home–décor shop’s pivot to apparel.
“People would … compliment my clothes,” says Kokkinis. “My mom loved that people would feel good about themselves [in our pieces].”
The trio took that approach to heart when they eventually opened 3 Sisters in the larger, three-story space next door. (Andrea’s Boutique has since closed.) Their mother remains involved — she researches merchandise, is a buyer, and is well-known in the community.
“She loves to … build relationships,” says Kokkinis. “[People] ask how Mom is when she’s not in the shops.”
When they’re not inquiring about Ploutis, customers visiting 3 Sisters are after its affordable but trendy pieces. Shoppers range from teens browsing for homecoming dresses and vacationing grandmothers to late-30-somethings seeking breezy looks for a weekend away (yours truly).
“Our mom taught us to find things at a good price,” says Kokkinis. “You don’t have to spend a lot to look good.”
Casual, of-the-moment looks on the first floor — dresses, tops, bottoms, and jumpsuits — and snazzy formalwear on the second are predominantly priced between $40 and $60. (The third level is reserved for the online arm.) Jewelry pieces, meanwhile, typically range between $12 and $20. Among the more popular items are the fair-trade bracelets from Nepal and the “Favorite Sister” T-shirt on display near the entrance.
Ask Kokkinis who her favorite sister — or shop — is, and you won’t get an answer, but you can bet each one brings something unique to the business. We’re eager to see what they do next. 213 King St., Alexandria
What’s in Store
1. Day to Night Suede Skirt, $46
2. Aid through Trade Roll on Bracelets, $12
3. Caught in a Moment Necklace, $21.95
4. Summer Night Top, $32
5. Take a Trip Quilted Bag, $44
6. Flower Power Hair Clip, $12.95
This story originally ran in our September issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.