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Ask Adam: Inexpensive Upgrades

by | July 29, 2014 at 2:00 pm | 867 views | No Comments

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. We just bought our first house and are feeling a little house poor, but we are eager to make some worthwhile improvements. Can you recommend some relatively inexpensive improvements that will provide return on investment at some point? 

I love your enthusiasm and foresight. You don’t always have to spend a lot of money to improve the appearance and value of your home. Below are my top five suggestions:

Paint — You just bought the home so I am hoping you plan to live there for many years to come. Updating the interior paint is probably not a strong return on investment project at this point as you are likely to paint again before selling one day. At that time it will be a good idea to speak with your agent about the trending interior colors. This year I am seeing a lot of the light grays.

I suggest concentrating on the exterior. The wood trim and shutters often get neglected. You can give them a fresh look and provide them with much needed protection from sun, rain and snow. I can’t tell you how many home inspections I have been to where we discovered rotting wood trim.

Deck Cleaning and Staining – Similar to the suggestion above, this is a project you can do by yourself to freshen and protect your investment.

Start with a thorough cleaning. I usually rent a power washer from Bill’s True Value Hardware (2213 N. Buchanan Street), but first check around to see if you have a friend that will lend you theirs. It’s a simple process of cleaning, sanding and staining. Compare stains to find one that lasts for a longer period of time.

Landscaping — I just got back from a trip to Cape May, N.J., and was extremely impressed with the beautiful landscaping that is prevalent in that little beach town. It’s amazing how much more inviting the landscaping can make a home feel regardless of the home’s age.

I suggest creating a plan for your landscaping that takes into account the placement of plants, flowers and shrubs in relations to their height and the seasons they are in bloom. You should also consider the amount of water and sun they will require. It’s nice to create a garden you don’t have to water.

Because we are talking about improvements that will add value to your home, I suggest using perennial flowers that will continue to come back season after season.

Arlington County provides free mulch. For a small fee you can even have it delivered. Mulch provides a nice accent to your yard and helps control weeds.

Hardware — No offense to those of you who have gold colored hardware throughout your homes, but it is not really the finish of choice for most home buyers right now. I’m talking about doorknobs, light fixtures, fireplace hardware, cabinet knobs, towel racks… you get the picture. You can really update the feel of your home by replacing these items with a popular finish like brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze.

ReStore – Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public. Because they depend on donations, the inventory is hit or miss, but I have seen some gems in there. Everything from hardwood flooring to stainless steel appliances. There is a ReStore located in Alexandria.

I highly recommend YouTube for any projects you would like a quick education about. In my personal experience, it has been a life saver.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Scratching Post: When Did You Last Brush Your Teeth?

by | July 28, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 575 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: The Scratching Post is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff at NOVA Cat Clinic.

Have you brushed your teeth in the last few years? If you’re a human reading this, I’m hopeful the answer is yes!

If, however, you’re a cat, the answer is quite possibly no. Cats aren’t very fond of anyone sticking things in their mouths that isn’t edible. So how do you keep your cat’s teeth pearly white and fresh?

Brushing is actually a very good idea. If you start when your cat is young, it may be possible to make brushing a part of your cat’s daily routine. It’s possible with older cats as well, but will probably take a lot more training time (for you AND Fluffy).

At NOVA Cat Clinic, we sell toothbrush kits which include toothpaste and a soft finger brush. You can start by dabbing a bit of the toothpaste on your finger to see if Fluffy would like to lick it off. Hopefully, over time Fluffy would see this as a treat and run up to you when you start to squeeze the toothpaste tube. Eventually you can start slowly rubbing your finger in Fluffy’s mouth during this fun treat time. Then introduce the brush in the same way. Let Fluffy lick the toothpaste off the brush and eventually start gently rubbing it in her mouth.  Voila!  You have just brushed your cat’s teeth!

If Fluffy would rather bite off a finger than let you get near her mouth, we highly suggest you try a different approach.  Does your cat like to eat? We carry one of Hill’s Prescription Diets called “t/d” that is specially formulated to be a complete nutritional diet that focuses on dental health. They are made such that your cat’s teeth enter all the way into it before the piece of kibble breaks apart. This abrasive action on the teeth helps remove some of the tartar.

Feel free to ask at your next visit with us if t/d would be right for your kitty. While it can be fed as a complete diet, we often recommend using it as a treat to supplement Fluffy’s diet so you can keep feeding Fluffy her favorite foods. We also carry Tartar Shield Cat Treats. These treats contain ingredients that have been shown to help prevent tartar buildup in cats. So far, a lot of our patients seem to like them.

Both the Tartar Shield Treats and the Hill’s t/d diet are 100 percent guaranteed.  If for any reason you or Fluffy aren’t completely satisfied you can get a full refund.

We also carry MaxiGuard OraZn. This is a product you dab on your finger, then rub on the top teeth on both sides of your cat’s teeth. It’s easier than brushing but can still be beneficial. The zinc it contains helps break up tartar buildup and freshen breath.

The best time to start using any of these products for your cat’s dental care is immediately after a thorough dental cleaning. But it’s never too late to start. Come see us soon to find out if any of these or other products might be right for your kitty.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of 

‘Uber-Like’ Tailoring Service to Launch in Ballston

by Ethan Rothstein | July 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm | 2,543 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders and funders. The Ground Floor is Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Hopsak Founder Josh ChaoJosh Chao has a passion for clothing, fit and retail. When working as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton in D.C., he grew more and more aware of what a hassle it was to get clothes to fit well.

Chao started his company, Hopsak, last summer after taking a class at Georgetown University during his studies for an M.B.A. He wanted to get involved with something with retail, and after consulting with his professors, he started to narrow his focus on tailoring.

“I wanted to apply a small problem, figure out how to solve it and build a solid foundation,” Chao said while sipping from an iced coffee at Buzz Bakery in Ballston last week. “I took the problem that I’ve experienced in my own life, getting clothes that fit right.”

With that in mind, Chao set out to build a company that is “kind of like Uber for tailors,” although Chao said he’s hesitant to advertise the business as such because it’s not a perfect comparison. At Hopsak, a customer goes online and enters in alterations he or she would like to have, includes his or her measurements, and mails the clothes to one of Hopsak’s six tailors in its network. The tailor then mails it back — shipping is free both ways — and the customer has a tailored outfit without having to leave the house.

Chao knows that the large majority of people won’t trust their own measurements, despite a tutorial the website will include when it launches — planned for the end of August — and the opportunity to email tailors directly for help.

Mockup of Hopsak's consumer product“There’s a lot of intimidation when taking your own measurements,” he said. “People like things to be smooth. When there are a lot of steps in it, it creates a barrier for action.”

To reduce the steps, Chao broke the tailoring down into four basic actions: lengthening or shortening sleeves or pant legs and taking a garment in or out. The vast majority of basic tailoring work, Chao said, are those four actions, and they’re also the easiest to measure.

No startup founder would willingly admit its consumer-facing product might be too intimidating to generate enough traction to support the company, but Chao devised a separate product aimed at retailers that he sees as the main revenue-generator for the company.

“We always knew that retail partnership would be our bread and butter,” Chao said. “For retailers, it’s an opportunity for those without the demand for a tailor on-site… A lot of retailers are having a hard time competing in today’s market, so we feel this is a tool for a better experience for this customers.”

The retail product works largely the same as the consumer version, except store employees can be trained to take customer’s measurements and send swaths of orders to tailors, as opposed to one at a time. The retail version is currently live and in a private beta version with a Georgetown suit maker.  (more…)

Your Beermonger: Setting Up Camp

by Nick Anderson | July 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm | 667 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

The big news for beer fans this week is the arrival of a very special, highly anticipated release: Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America 12-packs. Featuring one bottle (or can) each of collaborations between the California craft beer icon and 12 of the most renowned brewers in America, the Beer Camp 12-packs are only one part of a massive celebration of American beer.

Sierra is taking the Beer Camp on the road with a nationwide Beer Camp Across America tour, with seven stops in various regions of the country offering a day of live music, food, and dozens of different breweries sampling their wares at each stop (Note: if you’d like to try to make it by one of the Beer Camp stops, the last two are in Philadelphia Aug. 2 and in Mills River, N.C. — home to the new East Coast Sierra Nevada brewery — on Aug. 3).

In an April press release, Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman explained the rationale behind Beer Camp Across America: “We’re about to open a second brewery in North Carolina, and while that’s exciting for us, it’s an even greater reason to celebrate the future of craft brewers everywhere.”

It’s an impressive undertaking, and all with the aim of promoting and helping the beer industry overall: the same Sierra press release revealed that “a portion of proceeds from the festivals will go to brewers guilds or other nonprofits in the host state of each festival, while a portion of proceeds from the sales of the 12-pack will go to hop and barley research,” a worthwhile cause as the rapidly increasing number of commercial breweries puts a strain on both commodities.

The Beer Camp 12-packs have been popping up and selling out at retailers all over NoVA this week — we’ll only be receiving a handful at Arrowine, probably around the time this column runs, and we’re lucky to be getting even that — so what’s the fuss all about?

Put bluntly this is a 12-pack unlike any that has come before, featuring new collaboration recipes from Sierra along with a murderer’s row of the American craft brewing scene: Allagash, Asheville Brewer’s Alliance (represented here by John Stuart of Green Man and Luke Dickenson of Wicked Weed), Ballast Point, Bell’s, Cigar City, Firestone Walker, New Glarus, Ninkasi, Oskar Blues, Russian River, 3 Floyds, and Victory.


Rental Report: Top Questions Renters Should Ask

by Sponsor | July 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 749 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

You found a great apartment in your budget in a great location. Then the first morning you wake up to a barking dog. You say to yourself, “I didn’t hear that dog when I was on my tour.” Now what?

Well, not much you can do after the fact, but on the front end there are several things to think about, that you might not consider. Here are our top recommendations for additional questions to ask when looking at a potential rental.

Is it noisy? Let’s face it, city living isn’t quiet. But there are some places that are noisier than others. When you look out the window, what do you see? Is there a dumpster down below? That means you may wake up to the trash truck banging and beeping a few days a week. Are you on top of some retail or restaurants? Check to make sure you don’t overlook the loading dock if you’re looking for peace and quiet. If you get a chance to talk with potential neighbors, ask them about any odd noise you might not know about. In Arlington, there is an airport, so take a listen to see if you can hear the planes, or if it is tolerable noise.

What about the heat and A/C? In some buildings, the units are on shared systems. Find out when they turn the heat on for the winter or A/C for the summer. If it isn’t shared, then is it electric, gas, or radiator? Do the apartments have window A/C units? Find out when they install/remove the units for the season. Same goes for the water heater. Does your unit have an individual water heater or is it shared?

What about odd smells and fresh air? OK, this is a strange one, but check the area around your building. Is there a water treatment plant nearby? If so, you can expect some unpleasant smells coming through the window. Are you near a power plant? What are the environmental considerations that go with that? Maybe the apartment is above a restaurant or bar. Will you like the smell of food every day? What about folks smoking outside — will it come in to your unit?

What about cell signal? It seems like anywhere in a city should have cell signal these days, but that is not necessarily true. Take a look at your phone, and make some calls. Some areas of the building may be better than others, so make sure you check in the unit you will be renting. You don’t want to have to hang off your balcony just to make a call.

This is just a short list of a few things some folks don’t think about in the excitement of finding a place they really like. Take a little extra time after you learn about the amenities and neighborhood to be sure the actual unit you are leasing is going to work for you. It can save a big headache later.

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to

Ask Adam: Buying a Flip Versus Renovation

by | July 22, 2014 at 2:15 pm | 931 views | No Comments

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. My husband and I are soon going to be in the market for a single family home in Arlington, and we were wondering if you can advise on the pros and cons of buying a flip versus buying a smaller, cheaper home and commissioning the renovations ourselves. I imagine there are differences between the risk you take on, the financing options, as well as the equity you end up with when all is said and done. Can you walk through those and any other considerations?

A. In most cases you are going to get more for your money by purchasing a smaller, cheaper home and commissioning the renovations. If someone is going renovate a home to be move in ready, they are usually going to build in a premium on the sale. This is especially true with homes that are being “flipped.”

If you make tasteful choices and manage your costs carefully, you could create some nice equity for yourself by the time you are done renovating. Another benefit of commissioning the renovations yourself is that you get to choose the options and build the home around your needs. This can be fun and rewarding. The most prideful homeowners I can think of are the ones that renovated their own homes.

I’m only aware of one mainstream loan program that allows you to finance the home and the renovations. It’s a form of FHA called the 203k. It allows you to purchase with a low down-payment and finance your renovations. You’ll want to speak to a lender for more details, but I’ve heard it can be used for just about any home renovations besides a hot tub or firepit.

If the 203k loan does not meet your needs, then you will most likely need to save the money required for your renovations or tap into an alternative line of credit. This will be in addition to the down-payment and closing costs you will need to budget for with your purchase.

The other major consideration is the time and stress involved in renovating your home. It can be fun, but it can also put a lot of stress on your life and relationships. Even a simple bathroom or kitchen renovation should be entered into with caution. Invest ample time up front asking friends for referrals and interviewing contractors. In my experience, working with the right contractors can make a world of difference in how your project turns out and how enjoyable or painful the experience is.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Local Woof: What is Socialization?

by | July 21, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 346 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Socialization is the process of positively introducing your puppy to new things so that as they grow into adulthood, they are able to adapt to new situations without fear or anxiety.

The most important thing to know is that most puppies are only open to the socialization process between the ages of 3 to 16 weeks. This is called the socialization window. During this time, the pup’s brain and sympathetic nervous system is programmed to accept new experiences with less fear and anxiety than normal. As the pup gets older, their neurobiology changes and it becomes more and more difficult to teach your dog to tolerate new things.

The result is that the first 3 to 16 weeks is the most important time of your dogs life. WOOFS! recommends that families consider this before they get a puppy since they are going to need to dedicate several weeks to puppy socialization.

To socialize your pup, you need to be prepared to take them to meet many people, many other safe and friendly dogs and to visit many new places. During these excursions, you will want to bring lots of treats and make all these experiences fun and positive. Exposing a dog to scary situations is NOT socialization. In order for socialization to be effective, the dog must be happy and relaxed.

Puppy socialization events and puppy classes and great ways to get your pup out and about. On the other hand, dog parks and dog daycares are excellent places to bring already socialized dogs but are not great places for socialization to occur. Proper socialization requires much closer supervision.

So what about the dog who is already older than 16 weeks? Well, the socialization window does not slam shut, but trying to introduce an unsocialized dog over 16 weeks to lots of new people and dogs and experiences is going to be much harder to do than if they were younger. Unfortunately, socialization after a certain age may not even be possible. This of course depends a lot on the dog’s genetic make up as well.

If you need help, we recommend contacting a positive reinforcement training center near you. Operation Socialization is another great resource. It is an organization dedicated to safe early socialization and is a great resource for owners of new pups.

Happy Socializing!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

White Noise App Developer Continues to Evolve

by Ethan Rothstein | July 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm | 1,404 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders and funders. The Ground Floor is Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

The TM Soft team(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) Mobile applications have become a major sector of the technology industry in the last few years, but when TM Soft Founder Todd Moore got his start, there was no book, no blueprint on how to run a successful app company.

Moore was working as a software developer in federal contracting when, in 2008, he decided he would try and build an iPhone app to help him sleep. This was in the early days of iPhones, when they were running iOS 2.0, the first iteration to include the app store.

“I was teaching myself how to create apps late night weekends and just doing it for fun,” Moore told from a conference room in Rosslyn’s UberOffices. “Then I was making games and useful apps, and when I published White Noise, it became the No. 1 free app on iTunes overnight.”

Considering the massive amounts of code and time it takes to launch some apps today, Moore’s app was relatively low-tech; he went around his house and yard in Arlington recording noises, like a fan, crickets and rain. He put the app on the store, and a month later he began charging $1.99 for it and created a separate, free app with advertisements. The switch enabled him to quit his job and devote his energy full-time to maintaining White Noise and building new apps.

Screenshot of TM Soft's White Noise Lite app“It only took me a weekend to build the first [White Noise app],” he said. “It only looped eight different sounds. It was simpler times back then. Times have changed, now these phones are like personal computers.”

To date, White Noise has been downloaded more than 20 million times, allowing Moore to eventually grow his company to five full-time staff members. The ongoing success of the app has allowed him to experiment, and fail, with more ambitious apps. He said he’s launched more than 20, but only four have turned into high-volume downloads.

“It’s nice to be able to come into work and be able to say ‘this is what we’re going to do,’” he said. “If I have some wacky idea I want to try, we can try it. It’s total freedom.”

After White Noise became his meal ticket, Moore changed tack and started building more games and tools. He developed Card Counter, a game that teaches its users how to count cards at a blackjack table. Moore said he developed it after reading “Bringing Down The House,” a story about how MIT students learned to county cards and made millions of dollars at Las Vegas casinos.

Card Counter was in the top 20 of iTunes apps after casinos issued a warning about card counting apps. Puzzle app Compulsive is at around 2 million downloads. Moore is in production of another puzzle game that has social competition aspects and multiple levels.

“That’s something I’m spending a lot of time on,which is risky,” Moore said. “The longer it takes you to finish your app, the riskier it is.” (more…)

Your Beermonger: Summer Reading

by Nick Anderson | July 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 402 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

I’m not going to lie to you: the beer world is a little quiet this week. That’s okay — I don’t need everything to be going at a breakneck pace all the time, and it gives me a chance to write a column I’ve been wanting to get to for a while. There’s a good amount of time left in the summer, and many of us are still gearing up for our summer vacations. Here’s a list of beer-related books to read if you find yourself with some free time this season:

Michael Jackson’s Great Beer Guide: All of The Beer Hunter’s books are worth reading – Ultimate Beer; Great Beers of Belgium; Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion – but the Great Beer Guide is my personal favorite. Jackson reviews 500 classic beers in the Great Beer Guide, pulling off the incredibly difficult trick of translating sensual perceptions (sights, aromas, flavors) concisely and clearly, in language anyone can relate to.

The Oxford Companion to Beer: Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery edited this nearly 1,000-page tome than includes sections on the history of beer, styles, food pairing, culture, and more. The Oxford Companion is a fantastic reference/time sink, with answers to nearly every beer-related question you can think of. Oliver’s own The Brewmaster’s Table is also highly recommended; a guide to the art of pairing beer with food, it’s a manifesto for the inclusion of beer among the ‘noble’ beverages of the world.

The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance: What else could the story of Stone Brewing Company be called? Co-founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner along with freelance food/drink writer Randy Clements tell the history of one of America’s most renowned (and occasionally controversial) craft breweries. Not only does the book go into the philosophy behind Stone, but it gives valuable insight on what it’s like to start a brewery, and includes recipes for some of its beers and dishes featured at Stone’s World Bistro and Gardens. For a deeper look at the craft beer business, check out The Brewer’s Apprentice, by Koch and Matt Allyn, which offers some tips on brewing technique and ingredient information in candid, interview-style section with industry luminaries like Russian River’s Vinnie Cilurzo, Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman, and many more.

Brewing Up a Business: The first time I met Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione was at a beer dinner around the time Brewing Up a Business was released. If you’re a fan of Dogfish Head or interested in what drives its business approach, this is a must-read. As much an autobiography of Calagione as it is a biography of his brewery, Brewing Up a Business  is an engaging read that is also an unexpectedly open and candid mission statement of sorts.

The Craft Beer Revolution: A recent release that I’m about to pick up myself is The Craft Beer Revolution by former AP reporter and Brooklyn Brewery co-founder Steve Hindy. Jeff Alworth at Beervana reviewed the book this week, and it sounds like a fascinating look behind the scenes of the industry as craft beer came to prominence. In particular, Alworth calls the second half of Hindy’s book “a revelation. Here Hindy starts talking about the inside of craft brewing, the blood-and-guts reality that has been largely airbrushed out of the canon.  He treats the flood of money in the mid-90s with more details and insight than I’ve seen anywhere.  It’s a blend of big-picture trend analysis and anecdotes that reveal the more human aspects of that time.”

There are hundreds upon hundreds of beer books out there: do you all have any favorites? Until next time.

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of


NOVA Legal Beat: Unequal Treatment for Reserve Military?

by Ethan Rothstein | July 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 411 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Mathew B. Tully of Tully Rinckey PLLC, an Arlington firm that specializes in federal employment and labor law, security clearance proceedings, and military law.

Q. My supervisor hates the fact that I have to miss work every so often so I can fulfill my obligations to the Reserves. Lately, he’s been reducing my responsibilities and pushing me to change my hours or move me to another department so I do not have to work under him. What should I do?

A. Members of the National Guard and Reserves already sacrifice much in their service to America; they should not have to sacrifice more because an employer resents their obligations to the military. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) prohibits employers from denying members of the armed forces from any benefit of employment because of their military obligations.

The term “benefit of employment” is fairly broad in that it is not limited to the usual set of employee benefits, such as a health plan, pension plan, bonuses, and vacation. A benefit of employment also includes “any advantage, profit, privilege, gain, status, account, or interest (including wages or salary for work performed) that accrues by reason of an employment contract or agreement.” Reductions in responsibilities, shift changes and transfers strike at the very benefits of employment that USERRA aims to protect.

USERRA violations occur “only if the employee’s military status is a ‘motivating factor,’” the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in Francis v. Booz Allen & Hamilton, Inc. (2006).

“To establish a certain factor as a motivating factor, a claimant need not show that it was the sole cause of the employment action, but rather that it is one of the factors that a truthful employer would list if asked for the reasons for its decision,” the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia said in Baylor v. Comprehensive Pain Mgmt. Ctrs. (2011).

Given that “discrimination is seldom open or notorious,” USERRA cases often rely on circumstantial evidence. Such circumstantial evidence could include the timing between the adverse employment action and the employee’s military service, differing explanations for why such actions were taken, negative comments made toward or about service members, and more favorable treatment of non-service member employees, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Sheehan v. Department of the Navy (2001).

Employees who believe their employer has discriminated against them because of their military duty should immediately consult with an experienced federal employment law attorney who can prepare for them a USERRA lawsuit and represent them in federal court.

Mathew B. Tully is the founding partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC. Located in Arlington, Va. and Washington, D.C., Tully Rinckey PLLC’s attorneys practice federal employment law, military law, and security clearance representation. To speak with an attorney, call 703-525-4700 or to learn more visit 

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Ask Adam: Tear Down or Rent Out?

by | July 15, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 1,386 views | No Comments

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. Our house in 22207 would be considered a teardown. We may move in a year or so when my husband retires. Our question is: would it be better to do some remodeling and then rent it out for a few years to benefit from possible future appreciation, or better to take advantage of the current developer demand and sell? Of course it will depend on specific details of the house, the neighborhood, and other family considerations, but do you have a general suggestion?

A. Cash in or let it ride… This is the classic question of gamblers and investment owners. In this case I’m inclined to advise you to cash in. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Alhough I have confidence in the direction of our real estate market, there is no guarantee that the current level of demand for tear down properties will continue. In the current market, you may be able to orchestrate a bidding war that will outperform what your property will return during more conservative times. Many builders are buying with their own cash and they have been burned by past markets. I imagine that the slightest hint of slowdown in the luxury market will directly affect the demand for teardown properties.
  2. You have mentioned remodeling the home before renting it out. This is going to require investment in the home that is not going to provide any value to the person or developer looking for a tear down. Your investment will become a sunk cost that eats into the additional profit you hope to gain by holding onto the property longer.
  3. You’ll want to carefully explore the tax implications of holding the property. For example, renting the property out for too long can create substantial costs in the form of your capital gains tax.

If you were my client, I would provide you with an estimated sales price and strategy for the current market. I would also do my best to project the appreciation or depreciation you may experience by holding onto the property. This exercise would help you make a decision based on the unique value and estimated performance of your home. You can compare these numbers to the estimated costs of holding on to the property as a rental.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Crystal City Startup Simplifies Finding Service Providers

by Ethan Rothstein | July 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm | 719 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders and funders. The Ground Floor is Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

SevaCallManpreet Singh doesn’t need a long, explanatory speech to explain what the tech startup he founded with his brother, Gurpreet, does. All he needs is a phone call.

The Singhs are co-founders of SevaCall, based in Crystal City’s Crystal Tech Fund. In his demonstration, Singh goes to his company’s website and gives you an example of a service you may need. He pulls up “plumber,” inserts a location, time for the appointment and specific problem.

Within 90 seconds, the customer receives a call from, as in his example, the plumber, and the two can discuss terms. Fifteen seconds after Singh inputs the criteria, his phone rings with the test call, and he has the option to take the call — and pay SevaCall’s fee — or ignore it. Customers pay nothing, the merchants don’t receive the access to the customers’ information and, if the initial merchant and the customer don’t agree to terms, there will be two more waiting as backup.

“Finding a service provider is not efficient at all,” Singh said. “But with us, you literally can have three companies that have chosen to work with you, and you can be done with your task in 15 minutes.”

SevaCall has more than 50 “verticals,” Singh said, including heating and cooling, roofing, computer repair, auto repair and dentists. So far, the company has had requests in 8,000 zip codes nationwide, fielded 900,000 calls and interacts with more than 1,000 businesses a week.

Screenshot of SevaCall's website

The company was founded in the fall of 2011, when Gurpreet Singh was operating his last business, Geeks on Site, and fielding a substantial number of phone calls from customers out of his service area. He had the idea to connect companies with their customers more efficiently, and the University of Maryland computer science grad started to build the beta.

“Many of the ways small businesses had to advertise were very inefficient,” Manpreet Singh said. “You don’t know who’s seeing what ad, and there’s never a good way to measure your return on investment.”

Manpreet Singh was working as an investment banker when his brother asked him to join his company full-time in 2012 when the website launched. In the beginning, getting companies to join the website — and customers to use it — was a struggle. Cold-calling companies asking them to sign up was both inefficient and ineffective, so the Singhs decided to use a composite ranking of location, quality based on social media and web ratings, and mined data from the webs.

“We have a two-sided marketplace, which is really challenging,” Singh said. “We started to mine our data and just put companies in our database, giving them their first call for free. The businesses were so happy they would call us right back after hearing the customers tell them where they heard about them. After that, we were able to build our network a lot faster.”

The SevaCall teamFor the first six months of SevaCall’s existence, the founders funded it themselves before working on raising a $1.3 million seed round of funding. A new round of “significant” investment from Crystal Tech Fund and others is expected to be finalized soon, Singh said.

The company is currently developing a mobile app with voice-based technology that Singh said will increase repeat customers. The company has seven full-time employees among 16 workers including interns and contractors. After the next round of investment, Singh expects to grow even more, despite the fact that his company isn’t quite profitable yet.

“We expect to go to about 20,000 zip codes,” he said. “We think we can be engaging 10,000 people a week. I want to blanket the entire country.”

Your Beermonger: Comparing Beer Prices, 2005 to Today

by Sponsor | July 11, 2014 at 2:00 pm | 670 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

While cleaning out some stuff around the house last weekend, I found an old price catalog from one of my distributor partners from 2005.

In a blog post earlier this week, I had some fun going through it and seeing what was/wasn’t available at the time (no Bell’s or Founders, for example), but in this space this week I wanted to go in a different direction. With plenty of concern over rising hop prices and the impact they’ll eventually have on the cost of beer, and with the discussion of beer pricing in general ongoing, I thought it might be fun to compare 2005 beer prices to where they are today.

Now, I’m not about to go talking about how much a distributor charged or charges for something: what we’ll do today is compare by what I would charge. The results were interesting in ways I wasn’t quite expecting. Sure, some beers have notably jumped in price: in the 750mL format I prefer, Delirium Tremens has gone from $7.99 to $11.99 per bottle. Most increases are shockingly mild, however–Bear Republic’s 22oz bottles (there was no six-pack production in 2005) have only gone up a dollar, from $4.99 each to $5.99 now. Spread out over nearly ten years that’s actually quite impressive, especially for an industry comprised mainly of small businesses.

What really surprised me was how many examples I found of breweries whose prices have held, or in some cases have even gone down thanks to distributor quantity-deal pricing that wasn’t possible when supplies were more limited. Mainstay beers like Hofbrau Lager and Weissbier remain in the price range to hit shelves at $10.99, but prices of $9.99 or lower are possible with the right number of cases ordered. In the case of Anderson Valley’s six-packs — the Solstice seasonal beers to be specific — while the ‘frontline’ price has increased, it hasn’t gone up so much that the retail price has had to move up from $11.99.

Quantity deals on the Solstice beers helps keep it in its price point, as does the fact that the now-available cans cost less at wholesale than the bottles do. Lagunitas six-packs have held steady at frontline, but quantity deals open up the possibility of retail pricing at $9.99 or even $8.99 per six-pack instead of $10.99 or $11.99.

The trend seems to be moderate price increasing on six-packs, while 22oz or 750mL bottles have gone up more significantly. Bucking that trend is Stone, whose six-packs are notably more expensive now than in 2005, while its 22oz bottles have increased only a little bit (bear in mind, this is before special releases like Enjoy By, RuinTen, the Stochasticity Project Series and others that are more expensive than the core Stone lineup).

Even when a brewery’s lineup has jumped in price overall, today production levels are such that distributors will offer retailers deals to get pricing close to 2005 levels, if not outright matching them — provided the retailer is big enough to take on 50/75/100 cases of a single brewery’s beers at a time.



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