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The owner of Arlington’s Wild Birds Unlimited is seeking to retire after 32 years in the birding business —  right after he finds a successor.

Michael Zuiker wants to make it clear: the long-standing storefront in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center in Yorktown isn’t going anywhere. But after more than three decades, Zuiker is looking for someone new to fill his role of chatting with customers, keeping up with change and encouraging busy Arlingtonians to take time to enjoy the natural world.

“I have loved owning this store and getting the chance to meet all of you while sharing my love of the birds,” the business owner said in an emailed announcement last week. “But we all reach new phases in our lives and I want to get the wheels turning to start my retirement years.”

Zuiker is ready to wait as long as it takes to find a new owner. He is confident he can find someone who understands the joy of connecting customers with nature by selling birdseed, bird feeders and other outdoor equipment.

“It’s a lot more than just making a dollar selling birdseed. It really is,” he told ARLnow. “It’s having the customers come back and say, ‘Look at what I got in my backyard! I’ve never had that bird before.’”

Zuiker is asking potential buyers to contact him at [email protected].

Adapting to change

Due in part to Arlington’s shifting demographics, Zuiker still regularly finds people discovering his business for the first time, though they view birding differently than avian enthusiasts 32 years ago.

“My first customers, they were in their little $80,000 house that was paid for,” Zuiker recalled. “They had their little retirement disposable income. Now, people are moving into these $1.8 million homes with two kids, two cars and four dogs and a cat. It’s kind of a lot of expenses.”

Today’s birders are younger and busier, often fitting birdwatching into crowded schedules.

“You’ve got to kind of slow people down to just stop for a second,” Zuiker said.

Different faces are just one of many changes the store has adjusted to over the years.

When Zuiker assumed ownership of the county’s Wild Birds Unlimited in 1991, his employees made $3.25 per hour. Most birdhouses were made of wood, and staff wrote down orders using a pen and paper.

These days, the wage is at least $15 per hour, employees record orders digitally and much birding equipment is made of recycled plastics.

“If you’re not willing to be flexible and constantly change, and rethink your store and redesign your store, and make it attractive to customers… people do lose interest from time to time,” Zuiker said.

For the birdseed salesman, part of the job’s allure is the personal responsibility he feels for his business’s success or failure.

“There’s only one person I can look at who’s been there 32 years, and that’s me,” he said.

Eager for the future

Despite Zuiker’s ongoing love for his feathered friends, he is ready to move on from the job of running a business.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I really am, because there’s so much I want to see and want to do.”

The birder has no shortage of ideas. He wants to go to music festivals. He wants to learn the accordion. He wants to visit Europe, tour national parks and write a book.

More than anything, Zuiker said, “I want to see new stuff. I want to find new lakes; I want to find new birds.”

Zuiker doesn’t intend to rush anything. He still has high standards for what the new owner will be like — someone as passionate about birds and business as he is.

“We won’t sell it to anybody, and the franchise won’t let me, unless it’s a very good person dedicated to backyard bird feeding,” he said. “That’s the key.”

Zuiker declined to speculate on how long that will take, but after 32 years, he says it is time to spread his wings and leave the proverbial nest.

“I’ve done it for so long,” he said. “I think it’s really time to say, ‘You did it. You did it really well.'”

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New ARLnow shirts, just in time for Valentine’s Day

Think we forgot about the ARLnow Shop after the pre-Christmas shopping rush?

Well you’re right, we did. But not for long, because the shop is back with new product just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Show your love of Arlington with these classic designs, complete with fan-favorite gondolas or flip flops. Before complaining about the pricing being a buck higher than the other shirts, you should know it’s because we went with a higher quality, heavyweight tee so the white one wouldn’t be partially see-through.

Visit the store here or go directly to the product page for each of the new designs below.

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Signage announcing the closure of the CVS in the Ballston Target (staff photo by Dan Egitto)

The CVS Pharmacy inside the Target in Ballston is closing.

The pharmacy’s last pick-up date is Friday, Feb. 16, according to signage posted at a checkout desk inside the store at 740 N. Glebe Road. All prescriptions will be automatically moved to a different location.

“We’ll be doing the transferring so if you have an alternative pharmacy you [prefer], let us know,” one sign says.

The CVS at the Ballston Quarter mall (4238 Wilson Blvd), a four-minute walk away, will remain open.

This is one of several CVS closures happening in the D.C. area in February and March.

The company announced last month that it will be shutting down at least three locations inside D.C. Target stores. Pharmacies in Ivy City, Tenleytown and Shepherd Park will all close their doors between Feb. 29 and March 14.

Last week, the company said a standalone CVS in Columbia Heights will be closing, as well.

A CVS spokesperson told the Washington Business Journal on Monday that she had “nothing to share at this time” concerning possible closures at Target stores in Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland.

The region’s thinning ranks of pharmacies are part of a nationwide strategy shift, CVS told another local news outlet.

“The closures are part of our plan to realign our national retail footprint and reduce store and pharmacy density and are based on our evaluation of changes in population, consumer buying patterns and future health needs to ensure we have the right pharmacy format in the right locations for patients,” the company said in a statement.

The Target in Ballston opened in 2020 and is one of three Targets in Arlington, including another smaller-format store in Rosslyn and a store in Pentagon City that opened in 2022.

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The Macy’s store in Ballston is slated to close this spring, as soon as March, ARLnow has learned.

The department store at the Ballston Quarter mall was one of five locations the company identified last week as set to close in 2024. Macy’s is also planning to cut some 2,350 jobs this year.

Signs are now up outside and inside the store, advertising a storewide 30% off sales. All sales are final as of Monday, Jan. 22, according to the signage.

A Macy’s spokesperson tells ARLnow that the clearance sale “will run for approximately 8-12 weeks.” The store is expected to close after that.

The Arlington County Board approved a redevelopment plan for the Macy’s site in December 2022. The plan calls for a 16-story, 555-unit apartment complex atop a grocery store and another 1,400-square-foot retail space.

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The Macy’s store at Ballston Quarter will close later this year, the company announced Thursday.

The Ballston location is one of five Macy’s stores set to close in 2024, as the department store chain aims to cut 2,350 jobs, or 3.5% of its workforce, including 13% of corporate staff.

The closure of the Ballston Macy’s is not exactly a surprise. The Arlington County Board approved a redevelopment plan for the site in December 2022. From our previous reporting:

Insight Property Group proposes to demolish the longtime department store and vacant office building at 685 N. Glebe Road and replace it with a 16-story, 555-unit apartment complex atop a grocery store. In response to online engagement, it is adding a second, 1,400-square-foot retail space on the ground floor.

The units would be spread across two 14-story towers joined at the penthouse level. Residents would have 250 underground parking spaces while grocery store patrons would have 148 spots on the building’s second story.

There’s no immediate word of an updated timeline for the development, which was the subject of scrutiny from local residents and transportation planners.

Photo (top) via Google Maps

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The holiday season is here and you’re probably wondering what to get those special Arlingtonians in your life. Lucky for you, the ARLnow Shop has plenty of gift options for savvy locals.

Among the offerings are some new, notable additions since the store launched in August, including:

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Toys ‘R’ Us tour (courtesy photo)

Toys ‘R’ Us and its long-necked mascot are on an RV tour of the East Coast, with an upcoming stop in Arlington.

The long-time children’s retailer declared bankruptcy in 2017 and, a year later, closed all of its U.S. stores. In recent years, however, it has been making a comeback, with stores located within Macy’s locations — including the Macy’s in Pentagon City.

The comeback is continuing with a multi-state tour featuring Geoffrey the Giraffe. Geoffrey’s RV is scheduled to arrive in Arlington this coming Monday for a noon event in Pentagon City, featuring giveaways and activities.

“Geoffrey’s Tour Across America is coming to Fashion Centre at Pentagon City on Monday, July 24th at 12pm ET where Geoffrey the Giraffe will host a play celebration for families at the Toys ‘R’ Us shop at Macy’s Pentagon City store,” said a description of the event. “The festivities will kick-off outside Macy’s store entrance at the new Geoffrey Mobile, a 38-foot custom RV which is on a multi-city tour, making stops at select Toys ‘R’ Us at Macy’s stores from NYC to Florida.”

“The first 50 kids to arrive at the Geoffrey Mobile will receive a free Geoffrey plush,” the event description said. “All attendees will receive a paper crown, a toy tambourine and will join Geoffrey the Giraffe in his ‘Parade of Play’ march from the Geoffrey Mobile into the Toys ‘R’ Us inside of Macy’s. The fun will continue in-store from 12pm – 2pm with play stations and family friendly activities including Pokémon Trade & Play activity packs, Discovery Excavation Kits, Block building, Bluey printable for coloring, a Meet & Greet with Geoffrey and more!”

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Loyal fans of One More Page Books in East Falls Church are helping the store keep the lights on — literally.

The bookstore, a staple in the community for 12 years that often works with Arlington Public Library and local schools, recently held a fundraiser to help pay for needed maintenance and to help the shop stick with its current slate of publisher vendors.

As of Monday evening, the well-loved bookstore at 2200 N. Westmoreland Street raised nearly $36,000 — surpassing its $35,000 goal — from some 400 donors over the course of 10 days. The largest was an anonymous $2,500 donation.

“We are overwhelmed with the response and the words of encouragement from our customers and the community,” owner Eileen McGervey told ARLnow. “It is difficult to ask for help and then to have such a rapid response is humbling.”

McGervey says she wishes the funds would go toward something “fun and exciting,” but instead it will go to fixing its lighting and HVAC system.

“About a third of our ceiling lighting units are no longer working, so there are certain parts of the store that are dark,” she said.

The funds will also make One More Page whole after paying for recent repairs to its air conditioning unit and plumbing.

“Since the overflow pan is in the ceiling, we have had water come down into the store — books and water are not a good mix,” McGervey said.

Any money leftover could help pay for “a few fun ideas for the store design,” she says.

McGervey says the bookstore is cutting costs where it can but that applies to future expenses, not those the store has already had to incur. In addition to fixing the AC unit, that includes ongoing costs associated with maintaining its website, which was upgraded during the pandemic to facilitate online ordering.

“The profit margin for small businesses is notoriously small, and over time, even new small expenses or slight revenue dips add up,” she wrote in the fundraiser. “And, like all of you, our rent and other expenses continue to rise.”

When rent rose by 30% in 2019, One More Page also turned to the community, hosting an online auction that ultimately helped it raise $20,374. That money paid the publisher vendors McGervey could not pay after covering rent.

The fundraiser for covering repairs and paying vendors this time around is ongoing. McGervey encourages supporters to continue shopping at the store, in person or online, and at Libro.fm for audiobooks. Supports can also attend events, become a Patreon member and buy branded t-shirts.

With the approach of summer comes a slower event schedule but One More Page does have a launch party scheduled for local author Jonathan Harper, for his book “You Don’t Belong Here” on June 4.

The store is also planning to support Arlington Public Library’s event with author Imani Perry at Central Library on June 22 and to likely host a repeat of its “highly popular” Puzzle Exchange night.

On July 18, the shop will celebrate the release of “The Inner Ear of Don Zientara” with Antonia Tricarico and special guests Don Zientara, Amanda MacKaye and Joe Lally, followed by an event to celebrate the July 25 release of “Ghosted” by store staffer Amanda Quain.

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Just one month after both Loyal Companion stores in Arlington closed amid the chain’s bankruptcy, both locations are back as new pet stores.

In the Lee Harrison Shopping Center, Loyal Companion is still the sign above the storefront, but inside it has been converted into Wag N’ Wash, a pet store with a focus on pet hygiene.

Wag N’ Wash is a national chain with a few locations in the region, including one in Vienna.

As far as conversions go, the changes inside are fairly minor. Staff at the store, located at 2501A N. Harrison Street, said “it’s mostly the same stuff” with the same dog washing services Loyal Companion offered, just under a new name.

One of the few notable changes, staff said, is that eventually Wags N’ Wash will have a self-serve dog wash.

Meanwhile, a store manager at Dogma Bakery & Boutique said the new location near Clarendon — at 2509 Franklin Road — will have a soft opening later this week, perhaps on Wednesday, March 15, depending on when the shelves get set up. The store expects to be fully open next week.

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Leasing sign in front of Unleashed by Petco store near Ballston (photo courtesy Ray Caputo)

(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) The building that hosts a Ballston area pet store is being offered for lease.

A leasing flyer says the 4,666 square foot, circa-1925 commercial building at 3902 Wilson Blvd is available for new a tenant starting in January 2024. That suggests that the existing tenant, Unleashed by Petco, will be closing later this year after its lease is up.

Unleashed opened in the space in September 2013, about nine-and-a-half years ago. It replaced the quirky, homegrown burger-and-hot-dog restaurant Wiinky’s.

The flyer notes that the free-standing building was renovated in 2013, when Petco moved in, and that the property has 19 parking spaces.

The only other remaining Unleashed store in Arlington is located at 5400 Langston Blvd. It opened in 2011. A Pentagon City location closed in 2021.

Among other pet-related businesses along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, the Loyal Companion pet store at 2509 Franklin Road in Courthouse just closed but is expected to be replaced soon by Dogma Bakery & Boutique.

Hat tip to Ray Caputo

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The Barnes & Noble store in Clarendon (via Google Maps)

The Barnes & Noble store in Clarendon was the scene of an alleged armed robbery today.

Police responded around noon to the bookstore at 2800 Clarendon Blvd, in The Crossing Clarendon shopping center, after a caller reported a crime that happened earlier that morning.

“At approximately 12:06 p.m. on September 29, police were dispatched to the late report of an armed robbery inside a business,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 10:50 a.m., the unknown male suspect began to conceal merchandise inside a bag. When employees confronted the suspect, he displayed a pocket knife before exiting the business with the stolen merchandise.”

“No injuries were reported,” Savage added. “The suspect is described as a Black male in his 40’s or 50’s, 5’10” tall, 240lbs with black hair. He was wearing a cream colored sweater, tan khaki pants, brown boots and black rimmed glasses. The investigation is ongoing.”

Photo via Google Maps

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