Every Thursday morning, rain or shine, the folks enjoying breakfast and coffee at the tables outside the Lee Harrison Shopping Center Starbucks get to see the delivery of two to three tons of birdseed hauled into the Wild Birds Unlimited store next door.
That’s two to three TONS of bags of wild birdseed.
“That’s how fresh it is,” says owner Michael Zuiker. “And we go through that mountain every week.”
During special promotions that mountain has been known to grow to seven tons, and it flies off the shelves as if on eagle wings.
Wild Birds Unlimited has been at the same perch at Lee Harrison for 26 years, ever since Zuiker gave up designing Roy Rogers restaurants for Marriott in the 1980s and decided to do something that connected him as well as others with the outdoors.
“I’ve always loved outdoors, always loved nature,” Zuiker says. “I always loved the concept of doing something all natural. So for 26 years we’ve been bringing people and nature together.”
Over the years Zuiker has established a loyal clientele of bird lovers in Arlington, Falls Church and McLean, and he’s heartened by the growing number of new customers who come to the store perhaps for the first time. But some of them aren’t clear on the concept when they first come in.
“Maybe twice a week people come in looking to buy birds,” he says. “I tell them, I have no clue how to sell a bird. And the other misconception they have is when they ask, Can you make a living doing this? That’s when I politely tell them feeding wild birds is the second-most popular hobby in America, next to gardening.”
Zuiker says some 60 million Americans actively feed birds all four seasons. “It’s a beautiful hobby,” he says.
Zuiker is careful not to run down the competition, but those inexpensive bags of birdseed at grocery and hardware stores are not the stock he’s carrying.
“They sell it so cheaply, I don’t see how they can make a profit on it,” he says. “But it won’t be fresh, it won’t be good quality seed. A 20-pound bag might have 70 percent cereal grain in it which the birds don’t actually eat. They’ll kick it to the ground.
“And it’s very possible it’s been sitting on the shelf for months, which, because there is larvae in it, it could produce bugs.
“Or it could have very few seeds that only a few species will eat and not the kind people are trying to attract to their backyards.”
In Arlington, that would be cardinals, chickadees, titmice, winter wrens, English sparrows, goldfinches, blue jays, doves — “a lot of color, a lot of songs in your backyard,” he says–or any of the six species of woodpeckers that inhabit the area.
A different bag of bird food, when used strategically, will bring in the migrating birds. Zuiker says there are some 10 to 20 species of those who swoop in for a snack before headed home.
Zuiker and his staff make sure customers have the seed and the feeders they need to accomplish their goals, and in Arlington and Falls Church, which are famously leafy neighborhoods, it’s not hard to do. But it has to be done right.
“You can put a feeder out and have birds on it within an hour,” he says. “But we tell our customers to give it a couple of weeks to really get going because the birds don’t recognize it as a food source right off the bat.”
Then there’s the squirrel challenge. “Everybody has a squirrel challenge,” he says, “but we can make any feeder in our store 100 percent squirrel-proof if you set it up correctly.”
Unsure about squirrels, feeders, seeds and the difference between a tufted titmouse and a white-breasted nuthatch? Just ask.
“I train my staff really hard to be real educators,” says Zuiker. “We want people to walk out the door with their solution for what they want in their backyards, and we try to educate them on the different ways they can do that. And it’s fun!”
Still fun, after 26 years?
“I never get tired of listening to the birds, I never get tired of feeding the birds and I never get tired of going out into the woods and exploring,” Zuiker says.
“But what really motivates me is, I don’t think I’ve maxed out [the customer base]. I don’t think it’s reached its potential. And I’m not interested in growing just to grow, but to help the staff and help other people–I’m still motivated by that.”
And not to mention helping the wild birds.
Wild Birds Unlimited is in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center at 2437 N. Harrison Street, Arlington. Call 703-241-3988 or email at [email protected].
The preceding business profile was written by Buzz McClain for our sponsor, Wild Birds Unlimited.
The CVS Pharmacy atop the Courthouse Metro station entrance may be getting bigger.
A permit application filed Monday for the property at 2121 15th Street N. references a planned “second floor expansion” for CVS.
No other details were immediately available. The building also houses a Strayer University campus.
Hat tip to Chris Slatt
Dogs Die in Seven Corners Fire — Two dogs perished in a Sunday morning house fire in the Seven Corners area, although three dogs and four people were able to make it out of the burning home okay. Arlington County firefighters responded to the scene, assisting Fairfax County units in battling the blaze. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]
Water Main Break in Fairlington — Parts of north Fairlington had low or no water pressure for most of the day Monday due to a water main break. [Twitter]
Remembering Obama’s Local Bookstore Visit — Even four years later, not a day goes by when One More Page Books owner Eileen McGervey doesn’t hear from someone about the time in 2012 when President Obama visited her store on Small Business Saturday. She recounted how it happened recently on a local public radio show. [WAMU]
Carpool Still Hanging On — Once believed to be closing this fall to make way for a redevelopment, popular Ballston bar Carpool is now likely to remain open through March 2017, co-owner Mark Handwerger tells ARLnow.com. The Washington Business Journal reported last month that the redevelopment has hit a bit of a snag.
Yorktown Senior Joins Chamber — Mark Yates, Jr., a senior at Yorktown High School and the founder of a lawn care business, has joined the Arlington Chamber of Commerce as a member after participating in the Chamber’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy. [Arlington Chamber]
Jonathan Kinney Honored — Prominent local attorney Jonathan Kinney was honored by the Arlington Community Foundation earlier this month, in front of a record luncheon crowd of nearly 400. Despite his low-key demeanor, Kinney, a land use and estate planning attorney, was described as “Arlington’s most indispensable citizen.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The Staples store at 3804 Wilson Blvd in Virginia Square is slated for redevelopment, though the plans are still in the early stages.
Schupp Companies presented a plan to build a hotel on the site to the Ashton Heights Civic Association last month.
“My understanding is that the redevelopment would also replace the apartments on that side of N. Oakland [Street],” said a resident who was in attendance.
Ray Schupp said the exact details are still fluid and that his company will be working with residents to craft the plan.
“We have not decided exactly what we’ll do with the site,” Schupp told ARLnow.com. “We are exploring several options including a hotel. That being said we have been extremely pleased with the reception of the community to our new Hyatt hotel at Courthouse.”
“We will be working with the County staff and the neighbors on solutions to the Staples site,” Schupp continued. “Just as we developed a close relationship with Lyon Village homeowners and reached a win-win solution to the Courthouse site… we will work with the community and staff on this.”
Plans should begin to firm up within 3-4 months, said Schupp.
Long Bridge Project Coming — Virginia’s new Atlantic Gateway transportation plan includes the reconstruction of Long Bridge, the rail bridge that runs parallel to the 14th Street Bridge. As proposed, the new bridge would carry four rail tracks instead of two. Local elected officials expressed support for the project at a press conference with Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Alexandria last week. [Arlington Connection]
Kids Attend ‘Peace Camp’ — A group of local children attended a week-long camp that was all about promoting peace through music, art and games. The event was held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington and organized by the group Little Friends for Peace. [WUSA 9]
Sugar Shack Debuts ‘Donut Lab’ — Sugar Shack Donuts on Columbia Pike will be debuting new flavors every Wednesday as part of a social media competition with its sister store in Alexandria. Each week customers will vote on their favorite flavor. This week’s new flavor at the Arlington store is “Cannoli,” with cannoli cream filling and chocolate glaze. [Patch]
Community Zika Meeting — The Fairlington neighborhood will be holding a community meeting on the threat of the Zika virus tonight. [Twitter]
There’s a curious retail practice on display this week in Clarendon, and perhaps elsewhere in Arlington. Despite the sweltering weather, we’ve spotted retailers like T-Mobile, Bluemercury and Lululemon keeping their front doors open while the store’s air conditioning is running on full blast.
A Lululemon employee said that they keep the doors open to create a friendly environment, as a way to attract more customers into the store. However, they will close the door if the air conditioning is not keeping up with the heat outside, she said.
Keeping the doors open during hot weather is not uncommon among stores. As reported by the New York Times, it was so ubiquitous in New York City that the city banned the practice, starting this summer, to save energy. The effort’s slogan: “Shut the Front Door!”
When calling the Lululemon corporate office, a company spokesman denied that keeping doors open was corporate policy. He stated that it is up to a store’s preference to keep the door open or closed during hot weather.
The Lucky Seven convenience store in Nauck closed after a fire in the summer of 2012, but the brand is now making a comeback.
The 7-Eleven at the corner of Shirlington Road and 24th Street S., which opened in 2014, has dropped its corporate affiliation and is now being rebranded as Lucky Seven.
The store closed over the weekend to facilitate the changeover. It was open on Monday, but many shelves were bare and the store was only accepting cash.
We’re told that the owner of the 7-Eleven was the owner of the Lucky Seven store and that the owner decided to make the switch after the expiration of the store’s contract with 7-Eleven. More products are expected to hit the shelves within the next week — and Slurpee-like machines and other convenience store staples are expected to be installed as well.
Almost five years later, Ah Love Oil & Vinegar has not one but two stores — it expanded to the Mosaic District — and is looking to the future.
No longer defined by just two types of products, the store is changing its name.
“Today, we offer much more including kitchen tools, serveware, cocktail products, table linens, and culinary products made by local artisans,” owner Cary Kelly wrote. “Our name no longer represents the breadth of our offer.”
Through March 27, the store is conducting an online survey to help select a new name. Among the possible options:
- The Cookery, A Culinary Marketplace
- Edibles, A Cook’s Marketplace
- Ah love Cooks
- The Kitchen, A Culinary Marketplace
“We’ll continue to offer award-winning olive oil, Italian balsamic vinegar and the other products you love,” Kelly wrote. “This is a change in name only to better represent who we are to those who have not yet experienced our market of goods.”
One of the most prominently-located retail stores in Arlington is getting a makeover.
Renovations are currently underway at the Pacers Running Store at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, across from the Clarendon Metro station. The interior of the store is being renovated, following a recently-completed exterior renovation.
Pacers is still open and selling shoes and other running gear, but is operating out of a small space next to the store, along N. Highland Street.
The company says the construction is expected to last about two months. When completed, the newly-revamped Pacers will offer a “shopping experience” similar to the new Pacers stores in the District, on 14th Street and in Navy Yard.
“Designer consignment” clothing store Current Boutique plans to relocate their Clarendon shop to a larger space.
The business is moving a mere half a block, from 2529 Wilson Blvd to 2601 Wilson Blvd (near the corner of Wilson and N. Daniel Street). However, according to realtor Bill Buck, the move will more than double the boutique’s square footage.
Clarendon store manager Krista Cash said the decision to move came when owners and employees realized Current Boutique had outgrown its space.
Current Boutique has signed the lease for the new storefront, but renovations are still in progress. Buck estimates the business will move to their new location within the next couple of months.
Current Boutique has three other stores in the D.C. Metro area, in Old Town Alexandria (1009 King Street), Bethesda (7220 Wisconsin Avenue) and Logan Circle (1809 14th Street, NW).
Car2Go Coming to Arlington — Arlington County is giving the car sharing service Car2Go a try. The county will allow up to 200 Car2Go vehicles on the streets, in metered parking spots, as part of a one year pilot program. Car2Go will pay the county for use of metered spaces. [UrbanTurf, WTOP]
‘Jen’s Kitchen’ Now Open in Va. Square — “Jen’s Kitchen” has reportedly opened in Virginia Square, replacing the former Metro Cafe and Gourmet at 901 N. Nelson Street. [Twitter]
Texas Questioning New Office in Arlington — Senate Republicans and the Texas Attorney General’s office are asking the Obama administration for more information about an immigration services facility that’s bringing hundreds of jobs to Crystal City. The office was originally intended to help with processing related to Obama’s executive action on immigration, which is currently on hold due to legal challenges. [Breitbart]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The driver of an SUV accidentally rammed her vehicle into a Bluemont nail salon this morning.
No injuries were reported as a result of the crash, which occurred just before 11:00 a.m. The Acura MDX smashed through the front window of the Hollywood Nails Spa at 5510 Wilson Blvd, in a small shopping center next to Arlington Pharmacy.
Building inspectors are currently on scene assessing the damage, which included some smashed bricks and a broken front door. The nail salon — which is also home to a beauty academy — is roped off by caution tape.
One employee was inside the business at the time of the incident, near the back of the store, according to the salon’s owner. No word yet on when the store will reopen nor whether the driver, who appeared to be in her 30s, would face any charges.
“Remember, the brake is on the left,” Arlington County Police said, in a tweet.
Blue, Orange, Silver Lines Suspended — Metrorail service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines was suspended during the morning rush hour due to a water main break in D.C. Those in Arlington hoping to get to work via Uber were being charged four times the normal rate, thanks to the company’s “surge pricing” practices. An Arlington Alert, meanwhile, contained an oddly appropriate typo — it noted that service was suspended at “Farragut Wet” due to the water main break. [Washington Post]
Board: Traffic Light Coming in 18 Months — The Arlington County Board had good news for activists at its Saturday meeting: the traffic light they’re seeking at Columbia Pike and S. Frederick Street is coming. The bad news is that it could take up to 18 months. Board member Walter Tejada said that is “too long” and “we have to find a way to make it happen.” [InsideNova]
Zoning Change Advertised for Wendy’s Redevelopment — The County Board on Saturday voted to advertise a potential zoning change for 2026 and 2038 Wilson Blvd, the current site of the Wendy’s restaurant in Courthouse, which is slated for a redevelopment. Developer Carr Properties wants to build a 12-story office building on the site. Public hearings will now be held in advance of Board consideration of the rezoning request. [Arlington County]
Arlington Book Store Wins Grant — East Falls Church bookstore One More Page Books has won a $9,000 grant from novelist James Patterson. The store plans to use the grant to launch a “bookmobile” — a modified food truck that sells books around the community. [Washington Post]
Yelp reviewers and out-of-town passersby alike see the same thing when they look at the sign for Market Place & Cafe in Ballston: a phallus.
But despite giggles from around the internet and outside the doors, the store at 901 N. Glebe Road has kept the logo plastered on its windows for at least 5 years. And there’s no indication that it will be changing any time soon.
The restaurant’s owner declined requests for comment, demanding that an ARLnow.com employee leave the store after identifying himself as a reporter — but before even getting a chance to ask about the sign.
It’s unclear why the store has stuck with the logo — which seems intended to be a mustachioed figure with an prodigiously tall chef’s hat — for all these blush-inducing years. Commentary about the sign on Yelp dates back to 2009.
“My coworkers refer to the place as CnB Deli,” Steve L. wrote in 2009. “If you look at the picture I’ve attached you’ll see why: the logo for this place is of a huge c— and balls.”
“Welcome to Dong Deli,” Steve T. wrote in 2011. “Despite the ridic [sic] logo, the food isn’t that bad.”
The most recent review on the Yelp page was written last year by Matt R., who gave the deli five stars. Matt wrote: “I have never eaten here but their logo is a PENIS WITH A MOUSTACHE. 5 stars.”
Brandon Kline, visiting the area from his home on Long Island, N.Y., said he didn’t notice the sign at first, until he was walking from the Ballston Metro to the Holiday Inn a block away from Market Place Cafe and saw that a crowd had gathered to take photos.
“It was soon apparent why the crowd was taking pictures,” Kline told ARLnow.com. Kline said it reminded him of the phallic sign for the Austin Motel in Austin, Texas, “but even that isn’t as bad” as Market Place’s.
“They definitely knew it was a [penis] sign when they made it,” Kline’s girlfriend, Abby Koppa, said. “There’s no way it was unintentional.”
Some big changes are in store for Terminal A at Reagan National Airport.
The 40+ year old terminal will be getting the airport’s first full-service spa, plus new restaurants and stores, as part of a “comprehensive physical upgrade to the facility,” the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced last night.
The “sweeping” changes also include publicly-accessible iPads and charging stations, plus a renovated lobby and an expansion of the security checkpoints.
“It has long been the Airports Authority’s desire to modernize and optimize the passenger experience in Terminal A at Reagan National,” said Paul Malandrino, airport manager at Reagan National, in a press release.
The Airports Authority plans to have some of the new restaurants and stores open this spring. The rest of the changes are expected by the spring of 2015. Last year Reagan National Airport served a record 20.4 million passengers, which represents a year-over-year increase of nearly 4 percent.
The full press release from the Airports Authority, after the jump.