Arlington, VA

The Arlington County Board appears likely to consider a tax on plastic shopping bags later this year.

At the Board’s Saturday meeting, a volunteer from the group EcoAction Arlington spoke in favor of a five-cent tax on plastic bags, similar to that which has been implemented in D.C. and other cities, during the public comment period.

In response, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz noted that state authorization for such a tax — a five cent tax on plastic bags from grocery stores, convenience stores and drugstores — was recently signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam, but will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2021. In the meantime, county staff are “working on” a proposal to bring to the Board in the fall, he said.

“We look forward to having a conversation,” Schwartz said.

The volunteer, Whitney Beer-Kerr, said that a per-bag tax helps to cut down on such bags — which take centuries to decompose — winding up in waterways and landfills. Revenue from the tax can also be used on a variety of environmental initiatives.

On the other hand, a key alternative to plastic grocery bags — reusable shopping bags — are being discouraged by stores for employee health reasons during the pandemic. And Schwartz said that charging extra money for plastic bags could raise “equity questions.”

Paper bags, however, remain a viable and more environmentally-friendly alternative, County Board member Katie Cristol said during the meeting.

What do you think?

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The owner of a pair of major commercial developments in Arlington is applying for permits that would allow on-the-go alcohol consumption within each shopping center.

Federal Realty Investment Trust is applying for a new “commercial lifestyle center” permit for the Village at Shirlington and Pentagon Row, on behalf of the merchant association for each shopping center.

If approved by Virginia ABC, it would allow shoppers and diners to take their alcoholic beverages to go, for consumption in the centers’ common areas. A change to the law allowing it, sponsored by local state Sen. Barbara Favola, took effect earlier this month.

“Following the implementation of a new state law on July 1, 2020, FRIT submitted commercial lifestyle center ABC license applications for the Village at Shirlington and Pentagon Row on Friday, July 10,” Dan Corwin, Director, Asset Management — Mixed Use for Federal Realty Investment Trust, told ARLnow this morning.

“The applications would allow people of legal drinking age visiting the Village at Shirlington and Pentagon Row to consume alcohol purchased from Shirlington’s and Pentagon Row’s ABC licensees in common areas managed and maintained by Federal Realty,” he said.

Property owner JBG Smith applied for the the same permit for its shopping centers in the Crystal City area, near Amazon’s HQ2, last year.

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In case you forgot, Friday is Valentine’s Day. Wait, before you make a panicked purchase on Amazon and hit “next day shipping,” a market is scheduled this Friday in Crystal City to rescue last-minute shoppers.

The Valentine’s Market is scheduled to run from 4-8 p.m. at The Grounds (1102 S. Eads Street) with a variety of local vendors. If gift-giving isn’t really your style, an event listing said there will also be plenty of activities to turn it into a date night:

Leave your Valentine’s Day shopping to the last minute again, or just looking for a nice outing that doesn’t involve a quiet restaurant? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the Valentine’s Market at The Grounds!

Join us at The Grounds in Crystal City for wine & beer tastings and shopping from local crafts and treat vendors. There will also be a cash bar and food trucks, powered by Curbside Kitchen, so you can make an evening of it!

The Facebook page noted that the beer tastings will be offered by Caboose Brewing Company and the wine will be offered by Crystal City Wine Shop.

According to the website, vendors at the event include:

The website also says Arlington County’s Vision Zero program will be in attendance, in case your partner is a transportation policy wonk.

Photo via Agents in Style/Facebook

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If state Sen. Scott Surovell’s (D-36) bill passes the Virginia legislature, businesses in Arlington could be on the line for recovering shopping carts people have taken but not returned.

Senate Bill 631 would make it so that the cost of removal, including disposal, of an abandoned shopping cart will be charged to the cart’s owner. The ordinance originally applied just to Fairfax County, but Surovell said Arlington and Alexandria asked to be included in the new legislation.

Surovell told the state Senate’s Local Government Committee that his frustration was borne out of years of personally pulling shopping carts out of a creek in Fairfax.

“These carts often end up in drainage ditches and when it rains they end up going in the creek,” Surovell said. “I’ve taken 230 shopping carts out of the creek myself.”

Abandoned shopping carts have been a plague on areas of Arlington, particularly the Pentagon City area, so prevalent they inspired Twitter accounts that have obsessively documented abandoned scooters around the area for the past several years.

The bill was reported from the Local Government Committee on a narrow 8-7 vote, where it faced pushback both on the dais and from public speakers. Parker Slaybaugh, executive director of the very newly formed nonprofit Virginia Food Industry Association, said the bill would make shopping carts the only stolen property where the victim of the theft is charged for its recovery.

That criticism was a recurring theme of opposition to the bill.

“If somebody steals your property, then abandon that, I don’t think you should be charged to have to go retrieve that property,” said State Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-82th District). “Businesses already paid to purchase it, [then] somebody stole it. The right thing to do would be to charge someone who stole it.”

DeSteph compared the proposal to requiring someone whose vehicle is stolen to retrieve the vehicle or pay for it to be recovered.

“It’s one of the points people raise every year and it’s totally wrong,” Surovell fired back. “To prove someone guilty of petty larceny [you] have to show intent to permanently deprive someone of something. The reason you don’t see these people charged with crimes is because it’s not a crime.”

Surovell said the legislation included a section that would allow localities to make it a civil infraction to take the carts from the business owner, though a police officer speaking at the meeting who claimed to have arrested someone for stealing a shopping cart disagreed with Surovell’s statement that it wasn’t a crime.

Sarah Taylor, Alexandria’s legislative director, said the city had asked to join the ordinance to give them another “tool in a toolbox” to encourage businesses to better manage their carts, such as geofencing.

Surovell also noted that at ALDI, customers put a quarter in to get the cart, get a quarter back when it is returned.

“It’s not about punishing the victim,” Surovell argued. “Retailers could take steps to keep this from happening, they just choose not to do it.”

https://twitter.com/CartChaos22202/status/1160961457388949505

Photo (top) via Scott Surovell/Twitter

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

The stuff we consume — from snacks to knick-knacks — are responsible for up to 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and between 50 and 80 percent of total land, material and water use.

New Zealand recently started a Gen Less campaign and this touching video has all the feels. It is a campaign focused on less = more. Gen Less is a decision to start getting more out of life by using less energy. It’s the first generation anyone can join, regardless of age. Interesting food for thought this holiday season.

Buildings and transportation often get the most focus when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That said, 60-80 percent of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption. If we change our consumption habits, this would have a drastic effect on our environmental footprint as well.

As you swing into the holiday buying season, here are the Rethink Energy Team’s top shopping picks:

Massage or Spa Gift Certificates: Giving the gift of self-care is one of the most thoughtful. Consider a gift certificate for a massage, facial, manicure or other relaxing treatment. Particularly after the rush of the holiday season, any means of stress relief is likely to be a very welcome gift!

Yoga or Workout Classes/Membership: Help your loved ones explore a new class or buy them a month at a gym they already belong to. Buy a punch card to a yoga class, golf lessons or tennis lessons. Even better, sign up for classes together!

A Class to Learn Something New: Turning interests into skills feels good, and whether the person on your list is interested in cooking, knitting, writing, ballroom dancing or juggling, there’s probably a class available to learn more about it.

Go Homemade: Whether or not you consider yourself crafty, you can make a variety or relatively simple homemade items to give as gifts. Everyone appreciates a creative homemade gift, and the possibilities are endless.

The Gift of Time: The gift of time is not only one of the most meaningful gifts, but it can be one of the most helpful. Everyone could use additional help in some area of their life — whether it’s a house cleaning, organizing, cleaning up the lawn or a special project.

Movie or Restaurant Gift Certificates: If gift cards are on your shopping list, consider local restaurants and movies. Dinner and a movie will always be a timeless gift.

Arlington’s Secret Santa Program: You can make the holiday season a little happier for some of Arlington’s most vulnerable residents by taking part in the Department of Human Services’ Secret Santa Program.

Start a Savings Account: For anyone with children in your family, consider starting a savings account. Instead of spending money on gifts, put a few dollars into a savings account to give them when they graduate high school.

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Up to three new businesses are set to replace the long-vacant Cardinal Bank building at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center.

According to the shopping center’s developer A.J. Dwoskin & Associates, the bank’s demolition began earlier this week, and the new building will be “going up as quickly as possible.”

The company is early in its efforts to lease the 4,312 square feet of available space and “[does] not have any signed leases yet.”

“Depending on what deals come our way, we could have up to three new businesses,” said A.J. Dwoskin Marketing Director Lindsay Gilbert.

A county building permit submitted by A.J. Dwoskin at the bank’s current address (5335 Lee Hwy) details the building’s demolition, and adds that “the proposed building will be a 3,476 square foot restaurant space with a maximum of 125 seats.” The company would not comment on the permit or its mention of a restaurant.

Per signage at the construction site, the “retail pad building delivery” is expected in the first three months of 2020, but Gilbert said she does not expect any businesses operating in the spaces until later in the year.

“We’re particularly excited about the demolition, as that always creates a little neighborhood buzz,” Gilbert said.

In addition, the developer is also currently looking to lease two spaces in the lower levels of the busy shopping center, which houses a Harris Teeter store and restaurants like Peter Chang.

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Morning Notes

Arlington Loves Tito’s — The top-grossing liquor brand at Virginia ABC stores in Arlington, and most of Northern Virginia, is Tito’s Handmade Vodka. [Virginia Mercury]

More on Lee Highway Planning Process — “In the new year, the professional team will begin guiding the community in laying out a plan for the [Lee Highway] corridor’s next 30 years. Arlington is known for extensive and very slow community engagement, and the planning process will probably take at least two more years. The push for a more progressive, inclusive, sustainable US Route 29 must be perseverant.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Local ‘Passport’ for Small Biz Saturday — “One Page Books is partnering with thirteen other local businesses for Small Business Saturday. Pick up a Small Business Saturday Shopping ‘Passport‘ at any of the participating businesses, including Covet, Two the Moon, Lemon Lane and Trade Roots.” [WAMU]

Reminder: Mall Hours and Promotions — Arlington’s two malls have special Black Friday hours and promotions today. [ARLnow]

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As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, the Ballston Quarter and Pentagon City malls are shifting their hours and offering special activities.

At the Fashion Center at Pentagon City (1100 S. Hayes Street), the hours will vary by day, with the full holiday weekend schedule as follows:

  • Thursday, Nov. 28: 5 p.m.-1 a.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 29: 6 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 30: 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 1: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

On Black Friday (Nov. 29), shoppers can present their receipts at “Santa’s Grab Bag” for a chance to win prizes like retailer gift cards, American Express gift cards and more. In addition, there will be hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies.

In the meantime, Santa arrived earlier this month and is available for photos with children on the first level of the mall, near Nordstrom. And this weekend, the “Snow Sisters” will be joining Santa, according to the mall’s social media account.

At Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd), the mall will be closed all day on Thursday (Thanksgiving), except for Onelife Fitness, Regal Cinema, and Macy’s.

On Black Friday, the entire mall is expected to be open by 10 a.m., with the exception of Macy’s at 6 a.m. and Scout & Molly’s at 7 a.m. Stores, restaurants, and more across the mall will be offering exclusive specials:

  • True Food Kitchen, buy $100 in gift cards and receive a $40 bonus card
  • Sloppy Mama’s BBQ is offering a $20 gift card with the purchase of a $100 certificate.
  • Scout & Molly’s will have staggered discounts throughout the day — from 7-9 a.m., 40% off an entire purchase, then 30% off from 9-1 p.m., and from 1-9 p.m., 25% off.
  • Steadfast Supply will have 15% off the entire shop, with special gifts offered at tier purchases.
  • Gossip will have 40% the entire store all day
  • Special Cookology classes, with a $10 voucher towards a bottle of wine.
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Arlington’s 17th annual “Artful Weekend” art show and sale starts today and continues through this weekend.

Presented by the Arlington Artists Alliance, the fair highlights over 35 local artists and their wares across a variety of media including ceramics, jewelry, glasswork, and more.

The opening reception kicks off tonight, Friday, at the historic Hendry House at Fort C.F. Smith Park (2411 24th Street N.), from 6-8 p.m. Light refreshments will be served and the artists will be present.

The free event, described as “great for holiday shopping,” will continue Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 12-4 p.m.

The Arlington Artists Alliance works to create and promote local art in the county, with full membership options for Arlington artists. The alliance currently has two art galleries, the Gallery Underground in Crystal City (2100 Crystal Drive), and Gallery Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd).

Photo via Arlington County

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This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Alex Held, Small Business Manager, BizLaunch

While in its 10th year, Small Business Saturday, held on November 30, continues to be incorporated into many families’ holiday shopping traditions. In fact, in 2018 U.S. consumers reported spending an estimated $17.8 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday.

Additionally, 59% of small business owners report that Small Business Saturday contributes significantly to their holiday sales each year. With those numbers Small Business Saturday is BIG business for many of our small and independent retailers across the country and here in Arlington.

In Arlington, small business patrons can #shopsmall while entering for a chance to win prizes, find deals and discover unique local shops by participating in the shopping passport program coordinated by One More Page Books & More.

Shoppers can participate in the program by picking up a passport at any participating retailer; many of the retailers are also running deals and promotions on Small Business Saturday. In Arlington, the following retailers are participating in the passport program:

In addition to the passport program, shoppers looking to support small businesses in Arlington this holiday season and year round can leverage American Express’s Small Business finder. There shoppers can find any small business that accepts American Express right within their neighborhood.

Locally, BizLaunch offers numerous resources to support small businesses, but one that helps shoppers find small businesses while serving as an opportunity for businesses to receive FREE promotion is the BizLaunch Small Business Directory. Every small business in Arlington is welcome to upload their business listing with links to their website and logo to the directory, easily and most importantly for FREE. Additional resources for Small Business Saturday, including quick branding kits can be found online at American Express.

Programs like Small Business Saturday among others help keep local dollars within Arlington, representing the community’s character, while contributing to a vibrant business community making Arlington an ideal place to live, work and play.

Celebrando y apoyando negocios locales para más información visite BizLaunch en Español.

For more information about how BizLaunch supports small businesses visit www.bizlaunch.org.

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Anyone interested in getting their Arlington t-shirts or D.C. skyline onesies should buy now because local apparel store District Line Co. is going out of business.

The one-woman clothing company based in Cherrydale is planning to shut down by July after the rest of the inventory is sold off.

Lisa McLaughlin, the store’s founder, said as the store passed its five year anniversary in April, she discovered that she’d lost her enthusiasm for the business.

“That surprised me,” McLaughlin told ARLnow. “I looked at stuff coming up, like we were going to need to rebrand or rename, so it was kind of a combination of things but mainly I just realized on a business level that it’s a lot of work to continue growing a brand. You have to have a passion to do that, and I just felt like I wasn’t the right person to do that.”

McLaughlin said one of the early mistakes was not trademarking the company’s name, so she was in conflict with similarly named companies and often received reviews meant for the other companies.

“I loved doing business in Arlington,” McLaughlin said. “When I started this company we made about four shirts and did one event. I didn’t know if anyone was going to get this concept. But people loved their neighborhoods. The Arlington community was very supportive.”

In retrospect, McLaughlin said she would have hired someone to help manage the company.

“I would set it up differently,” McLaughlin said. “I’d have hired at least one person, even if it’s part time, to help with day to day. I’d have spent time on a business plan and think through how will I actually use my hours on what things.”

District Line Co. is currently working on selling off its inventory in a farewell sale. McLaughlin said anyone using the code “farewell25” on the website will receive a 25 percent discount on merchandise.

Image via District Line Co.

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