For a Better Commute. For a Better Prince William County.


Osprey’s Landing Reopens

Osprey’s Landing restaurant in Belmont Bay has reopened after it closed for two years. (Stephanie Tipple/

By Stephanie Tipple

Woodbridge, Va. — If you’ve missed fine dining and the views of the Occoquan River at Belmont Bay then you’re in luck, as Osprey’s Landing restaurant has reopened for business.

The restaurant has been closed for the past two years, but this fine dining experience is now ready to serve local customers. Osprey’s, a fixture in the Belmont Bay area, serves American food with a French flair – and it’s all about the superb dining experience.

The restaurant’s owners surveyed residents about what foods they’d like to see served at Osprey’s, and the public has spoken, prompting the American food menu with French flair. The clientele, mainly consisting of Belmont Bay residents, and Alexandria, Manassas and Stafford residents have been very supportive over the course of the reopening, coming out in droves for their soft opening – a Sunday Brunch that was held back in October.

Richard Davila, Osprey’s Landing Director of Food and Beverages, has 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry, and this experience has helped him understand the palette and the pricing needs of his customers. “What we’re trying to do on a daily basis, is to give people a great value for a meal that you’re not going to get at a lot of other places in the area,” said Davila.

The average cost for a meal here is about $19 per person.

People come from all over the county for their tuna slider appetizer, and the roasted chicken with mushroom Foam is one of Davila’s favorites. Osprey’s Landing is known for their desserts as well, serving up their famous waffle bread pudding and the crème brulee, which has a flavor change every two days.

Old Borders Now Used Bookstore

The old Borders Books on Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge is now 2nd and Charles books.

By Stephanie Tipple

Woodbridge, Va. — The one-time Borders location in Woodbridge off Prince William Parkway has been given new life. It’s been converted in a 2nd and Charles – a used book store chain based in the southeast U.S. with an eclectic assortment of merchandise.

This old Borders location is the only one that once belonged to the now-defunct book retailer that has been transformed in to a 2nd and Charles.

“There’s a big market for used books. There are lots of people, especially in this economy, who want to get books that are cheaper, that are perfectly fine – they’ve just been read before,” said general manager Kim Sarratt.

The current retail climate, families’ push for more conservative spending, and the local customer base made this a prime location for the company, said Sarratt.

Two managers and 15 former employees of Borders were also retained, which has made for an east transition for the new store and its customers.

While it may seem like large shoes to fill in the wake of the closing of all Border’s locations, Sarratt says there is a great demand for used books. And while 2nd and Charles puts a large focus on their used book selection, they make it a point to let customers know that they’re not just a book store.

They also carry movies, video games and vinyl comic books.

“We want an eclectic type of atmosphere, where people can come – we’re a destination place for people to come and find that rare treasure, as well as new stuff,” Sarratt said.

The store also has a buy-back and trading program for customers to trade in their books and video games, earning them cash or store credit for books. The store has been open a week and, thus far, they have already seen a positive level of sales from both new customers and former Border’s customers, said Sarratt.

The bookstore chain has five locations, with the Woodbridge store being the only one in Virginia. The company has plans expanding further at the start of the New Year.

A Borders store in Stafford Marketplace also closed this year. In October is was occupied by a Halloween costume store which has since closed for the season.

Stephanie Tipple is a contributing writer for

Local Black Friday Deals

In the current economic climate, more and more people are choosing to spend their dollars locally. According to an often cited research study, for every dollar you spend at a locally-owned business, 72 cents remains in the local economy supporting small business owners and employees.

As a locally-owned, run, and supported small business, is proud to support other local businesses as much as possible.

We asked locally owned businesses to send us what special deals they’re offering for Black Friday. We’ve posted them here for free to show our support for local business in the Potomac Communities!

Shopping for: Wife, girlfriend, fiancé

Shop at: Touch of Gold, 202 Washington Street in Occoquan.

Deal: Touch of Gold will be offering jewelry specials Friday-Sunday including 50 percent off a selection of fine jewelry already on sale, 50 percent off Celtic/Irish sterling jewelry, 25 percent off of diamond semi-mounts, 25 percent off genuine pearls, Buy One Get One Free on Kameleon Jewel Pops with any Sterling purchase.

Why we love it: Touch of Gold offers personalized service, unique lines, and a wide variety of special order products. If you’re a TrollBeads fanatic, this is definitely the shop for you. The pink and grey color scheme and boutique feel make this Occoquan jewelry shop extra charming.

Shopping for: A best friend, girlfriend, or co-worker

Shop at: The Polka Dot Divas, 405 Mill Street in Occoquan.

Deal: A Black Friday rolling sale with a different special on select items that will rotate every two hours. Cyber Monday on Nov. 28 will feature 10 percent off everything on

Why we love it: Bouncing back from serious flood damage, Polka Dot Divas’ new location still offers adorable styling and wide variety of gifts never fails to produce a perfect find for your best gal-pals. Their charming and funny combinations would also be a hit in any white elephant swap.

Shopping for: Wife, girlfriend, fiancé

Shop at: Jewelry By Design 2932 Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge.

Deal: 3 Days Only: Friday, Saturday and Sunday Save on Gifts for Everyone in Your Family! 14K Gold Diamond Studs ¼ ctw $149, Silver Pearl Earrings $29, 14K Gold Diamond Ring ½ ctw $999, Gold Black Diamond Studs ½ ctw $149, Silver Cross Pendant, $199, Silver Sapphire & Diamond Pendant $149, Silver Diamond, Pendant $199. Free iPAD2 with purchase of $2,499 or more

Why we love it: JBD has a huge selection of items to choose from and its right it the heart of Prince William County’s shopping district, just off I-95.

Shopping for: Your crafty friend, sister-in-law, mommy-group buddies

Shop at: Pink Crow Designs,

Deal: 10 percent off already discounted prices and free shipping using code BLACKFRIDAY10, or 10 percent off any custom order placed on Black Friday.

Why we love it: Shopping online? No lines? Count us in! Plus these unique designs are all handmade locally.

Shopping for: Your crafty friend, sister-in-law, mommy-group buddies

Shop at: Pink Crow Designs,

Deal: 10 percent off already discounted prices and free shipping using code BLACKFRIDAY10, or 10 percent off any custom order placed on Black Friday.

Why we love it: Shopping online? No lines? Count us in! Plus these unique designs are all handmade locally.

Shopping for: The person on your list with everything

Shop at: Workhouse Arts Center, 9601 Ox Road in Lorton.

Deal: Workshops, parties, plays, demonstrations and more, with no admission fee or requirement to buy anything. Santa will be on hand, raffles and food and carolers will be part of this full day experience, too. Events start at 9 a.m. and run to 7 p.m.

Why we love it: Instead of waiting in line at 4 a.m. alone, come out to the workhouse with the whole family and be entertained while shopping from the great works of local artists. Bonus- signing your kid up for a drama, art, or music class won’t clutter the toy room and gets them out of your hair once a week.

Shopping for: Just about anything- clothes, books, gifts, decorations

Shop at: Old Town Manassas

Deal: Just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you can purchase Old Town Chocolate Bars at participating shops, and if yours has the golden ticket, your child gets to escort Santa in the Old Town Christmas Parade

Why we love it: Escorting Santa. Enough said!

Shopping for: Wife, girlfriend, fiancé

Shop at: Quinn’s Goldsmith- Choose from Occoquan or Potomac Town Center at Stonebridge

Deal: This they’re giving away an iPad 2: One on Mens night Dec 14 in Occoquana and one on mens night Dec 15 at our Woodbridge location (near Wegmans), and another one Christmas Eve.

Why we love it: If you’ve got to buy jewelry anyway, you may as well win a little something for yourself, too!

Shopping for: Fun

Shop at: Wherever you want, but drop the kids off at Kids In Motion Woodbridge

Deal: Kids in Motion will offer a Black Friday fun camp for kids ages 3-12 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for $5-$7 per child. For more information or to sign up, visit their website at

Why we love it: There’s no way the kids are going to make it from a 4 a.m. trip to Macy’s all the way to when the indie stores open….what, you don’t teach yours to deal hunt?

Shopping for: Home cleaning services

Shop at: Jazzy’s Cleaning Service

Deal: Save 30 percent off your first home cleaning service if you call before Dec. 15. Call 540-272-3438!

Why we love it: It’s holiday time and with all the parties and get-togethers you’ll want to have your place looking it’s best. Why not let Jazzy’s help?



Civil War, Mall, Museums Boost Tourism

Prince William, VA-Tourism revenue is on the rise in the greater Prince William region and across Virginia, according to data released by the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Visitors to Prince William County generated almost $444 million in revenue last year, a 6.8 percent increase from 2009. In the City of Manassas, visitors generated almost $54 million, a 5.5 percent increase from 2009 and in Manassas Park about $1.2 million, which was a 3.7 percent increase.

The figures, which were calculated by the U.S. Travel Association, represent what domestic travelers spent on everything from meals, lodging and public transportation to shopping, admissions and entertainment. Virginia Tourism Corporation officials also said that every dollar Virginia invests in tourism marketing, generates $5 in tax revenue.

“We attribute the growth to the interest in the region’s Civil War history coupled with our other top attractions,” said Ann Marie Maher, Executive Director for Discover Prince William and Manassas, the regions convention and visitors bureau. “Prince William & Manassas is making a name for itself as a destination that is diverse, culturally dynamic and a tremendous value for travelers to the metropolitan D.C. area.”

Maher said visitors are coming to the greater Prince William area not only to see the Manassas National Battlefield Park and walk the Civil War Trail, but to visit the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Potomac Mills Mall and the community’s quaint main streets. Others are attracted to the arts, culture, events and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Tourism supported 5,600 jobs in Prince William last year and 524 between Manassas and Manassas Park. Travel-related state and local tax receipts also increased in Prince William by 3.7 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.

Maher said she expects tourism will rise as the community builds on the momentum of the 150th Civil War anniversary and gets ready to open new attractions including the American Wartime Museum.

At the state level, domestic visitor spending in Virginia generated $18.9 billion in revenue in 2010, up 6.7 percent from 2009. Officials with the Commonwealth said spending by overseas travelers to Virginia increased by more than 12 percent last year. The number of visitors from Canada is also on the rise. In 2010, almost 575,000 Canadians came to the Commonwealth and spent more than $133 million, up 16.6 percent from 2009.

“The increase in revenue from tourism is very encouraging,” Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said. “Tourism is an instant revenue generator and job creator for Virginia, which is why I continue to advocate for more resources for tourism marketing. Smart investments in tourism provide economic benefits to communities across the Commonwealth and good jobs for our citizens.”

For additional information on things to do and places to see in Prince William & Manassas, call 1-800-432-1792 or visit or

Discover Prince William & Manassas is the Convention and Visitors Bureau marketing Prince William County and Manassas, Virginia as a destination for leisure and business travelers, group tours, conferences, meetings and events.

-Unedited press release

New Restaurants, Day Care Coming to Aquia Towne Center

As Aquia Towne Center awaits a construction rebirth, the company developing the center has assured Stafford County leaders they’re working hard to bring businesses to the once-popular shopping center. (Uriah Kiser/

North Stafford, Va. — The on again – off again project to redevelop Aquia Towne Center is progressing with several new businesses signed up to lease space at the mixed-use shopping center.

New restaurants including Bungalow Ale House, Travinia Italian Kitchen, as well as other businesses like Gold’s Gym, a new Regal Cinemas and a child development center called The Learning Experience have all signed leases to open in the center.

Bungalow already has a location in Woodbridge, and Travinia has a planned location at Potomac Town Center. 

“Construction has slowed, but the developer, Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust, assures us they are in the process of signing leases to fill the center with businesses that will help improve the lives of the residents in Stafford. We think the newly developed center will be a great addition to the area,” said Aquia Supervisor Paul Midle.

Construction slowed, county officials said, after the developer encountered financing issues and the effects of the stalled economy. 

Stafford’s Board of Supervisors in 2006 approved a rezoning for the property near the intersection of U.S. 1 and Va. 610 in North Stafford to include a mix of retail and commercial office space. Since then, a new office tower that houses Northrop Grumman was built on the property.

But other businesses that were once a staple in the center, such as a Big Lots, Rite Aid Pharmacy, and the locally-owned Gargoyles Coffee Shop have were all closed and demolished. A Shoppers Food Warehouse that was in the shopping center moved into Stafford Marketplace in 2004.

“We anticipate the center to be well under construction in the next two years. They’ve got good leasing activity going on now, but they tell us they’ve had some financial problems in the past that should be resolved and construction should be back on soon,” said Stafford Economic Development spokesman Tim Baroody.

Car Dealership a New Neighbor

North Stafford, Va. — First houses, then a convience store, and now Nissan car dealership.

The Hills at Aquia continues to expand as Rosner Nissan of Stafford has opened its doors along U.S. 1 in North Stafford. It’s affiliated with Rosner Toyota, which sits about a half-mile away on nearby Va. 610.

“We’re pulling a lot of people who have not had the choice to by Nissan in Stafford, giving them another choice than Toyota,” said general manager Bob Gasbarri.

The car dealership hired 73 people when it opened last month, something Gasbarri said is difficult for many businesses to do in this down economy.

“For us, we’re fortunate enough to plan on keep growing and growing,” said Gasbarri.

And the dealership plans to continue expanding, as it’s clearing land directly behind the Nissan dealership to make room for another one.

The dealership stocks between 300 and 400 new cars on its lot.

Behind the dealership, several single-family homes have been built. The asking price for the new homes is $405,000, according to the developer’s website.

In addition to the car dealership, the area just north of Va. 610 now boasts at 7-Eleven and a new hotel.

Incubator Grows Small Business

Woodbridge, Va. –– The high-tech firm, Vectare, in June outgrew its office space at the Mason Enterprise Center at George Mason University.

The small company gained 10 employees and chose to move out of its incubator space fostered by the center and into their own office. The Enterprise Center calls it “graduating.”

Vectare was located at a business incubator office in Fairfax, one of several Mason Enterprise Centers in Northern Virginia. There’s also one in Woodbridge, and it, like the others, is open for small business owners looking to transition from a home office to a workplace setting.

“George Mason University focuses on education, research, and outreach – to include economic development initiatives in the surrounding communities. The Mason Enterprise Center serves as a significant interface supporting local and community-based entrepreneurship initiatives,” said GMU Associate Vice President for Economic Development Keith B. Segerson.

For a fee anywhere between $49 for a virtual membership and over $1,000 for an actual office, small business owners can utilize conference space, and get professional consulting to help them solidify their business plan, create a marketing strategy, and find all important sources of funding.

“Most clients utilizing the incubator office space are early stage companies with under 20 employees,” said Segerson.

These incubators are not new to the region. The Virginia Business Incubation Association was founded in 2000, and has fostered small businesses across the state. The Mason Enterprise Center in Woodbridge comes after the federal government in March decided they were no longer going to fund a telework center just a few blocks over from the incubator center. 

Forming partnerships with the community, Mason Enterprise Center also works with area chambers of commerce, government offices and other community organizations to further their goals of business expansion.

In addition to its location in Woodbridge, there is another Mason Enterprise Center in Prince William County outside Manassas.

Business Park a Vision Realized

Qauntico Corporate Center is located on U.S. 1 in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/

Editor’s note: This is the third part of an ongoing series about redeveloping the Potomac Communities.

North Stafford, Va. — At the center of the Potomac Communities lies one of the area’s economic bright spots, which aims to bring thousands of new jobs over the next eight years.

Quantico Corporate Center on U.S. 1 in Stafford County has already built and leased 280,000 square feet of Class A office space, and has more than 70,000 more square feet being built.

Located outside the back gate of Quantico Marine Corps Base near Interstate 95, it’s a win for companies doing business with the Marine Corps, and for the more than 6,000 federal workers transferred to the Potomac Communities after the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

“We have had a long term vision for that area materializing as a poignant center for the region, and we’re living that very vision,” said Stafford County Economic Development Administrator Timothy J. Baroody. “We’re working with the base [to develop the center], and [Quantico] encourages outside access to contractors to pop up so they can do more business close to home.”

Once a softball field on base, 10-years-ago Quantico traded the parcel of land for property elsewhere in the county. Today, Baroody said, companies have flocked to the center because of the reasonable lease rates, Stafford’s pro-business environment and the county’s repeal of a Business and Professional Licensing tax – something neighboring Prince William County still collects.

The land outside Quantico Corporate Center, known as Boswell’s Corner, is one of several Urban redevelopment areas defined by the Stafford County Board of Supervisors for future growth, where commercial, retail, and perhaps someday housing could be built.

Officials are hesitant about homes because Quantico has several live munitions ranges nearby where Marines undergo weapons training. While the base is known for rattling windows in homes built more than 20 miles away, base officials worry would-be residents closer to the base would complain about noise.

Baroody says the county could enter into a land use study to that would determine if homes here would be a good idea.

Boswell’s Corner is also a candidate for a science and technology center, aimed at attracting research and development jobs.

“Research and development is the holy grail of job opportunities, and that’s something we are working very hard with the base to bring to the area,” said Baroody.

Construction at the corporate center recently hit a snag when a crane collapsed and damaged a building, but no one was injured. It could take six to eight years to completely build-out Qauntico Corporate Center, but when finished, more than 8,000 jobs could be located there, officials said.

The series: Redeveloping the Potomac Communities
Part 1: Emerging town centers in Woodbridge could spell trouble for small business
Part 2: Forty-years-later, the region’s first town center hopes for a renaissance

UVA Likes Todos Supermarket

Carlos Castro, owners of Todos Supermarkets in Woodbridge, has been recognized by the University of Virginia. (Submitted photo)

Todos Supermarkest in Woodbridge is one of 14 finalists recognized by the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business annual Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards. The supermarket has two locations in eastern Prince William County and recently moved to Marumsco Plaza in Woodbridge.

More in an unedited press release from the University of Virginia:

They have survived fires, isolated locations, big-box competition and a crippling recession. Their innovations include lighter-than-air cell technology and a special process used to clean boats in the Gulf oil disaster. They display dramatic growth, bridge cultural divides, support local charities and bring economic hope to areas of Virginia where industries have fled. Above all, they are resilient.

These are the stories behind the 14 finalists the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and its Tayloe Murphy Center announced today will compete for five winning spots this September in the second annual Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards competition.

The following finalists, listed alphabetically, were chosen from among 21 semi-finalists and 88 total Virginia businesses that completed applications online at between May 2 and June 30:

• A Bowl of Good Café, Inc., Harrisonburg

When landlords raised the rent, A Bowl of Good Café had to make a tough decision: Pay more or start over without much equipment and risk losing their customers. They gave up their storefront and while continuing to sell at farmers markets and out of the back of the van, they rolled the dice, took out a favorable loan and moved into a new, custom-made store to provide their quality, “slow food, served fast.” From their connections with farmers and local producers in the farmers market, they are able to provide a high-value, low-cost core product: meals that are “globally inspired, local goodness” in a bowl. Through grassroots campaigning, the partners, Katrina Didot and Rachael Dorsey, worked to let patrons know about the move, along the way, building a mailing list and social media network. The café has kept up community relations, hosting a World Cup event and raising nearly $12,000 to support earthquake relief in Haiti.

• Astyra Corporation, Richmond

Named one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. three years in a row by Inc. magazine, Astyra has excelled despite stiff competition in a tough field. Since its founding in 1997, the technology and staffing firm’s reputation has grown among the many government agencies, financial institutions and engineering firms it serves. Its commitment to its employees also carries over to the larger community. Astyra has set up shop in an area of Richmond underutilized by businesses in hopes they can bring further economic revival to the city.

• Blue Crab Bay Co./Bay Beyond Inc., Melfa

For a quarter century, the Blue Crab Bay Co. has safely navigated the perils facing small businesses on the Eastern Shore. The internationally recognized specialty foods producer has come back from a fire, weathered a recession and successfully reached beyond their isolated location — the source and inspiration of many of their products — to a larger market seeking their special twist on clam-juice infused Bloody Mary mix or spicy snacks, to name a few. In addition to the scores of jobs it keeps in the community, it is a beacon for other businesses and a testament to resilience on the Eastern Shore.

• Blue Talon Bistro, Williamsburg

A fire gutted Blue Talon Bistro in 2007. The owners reacted by offering renovation jobs to staff that would have otherwise been laid off. As a result, the remodel was completed far ahead of schedule. Since then, the eatery has faced challenges including a drop in tourism and a lack of foot traffic from the nearby Colonial Downtown. Still, they continue to concentrate on good food and good service and it’s paid off by building a loyal customer base. They are also very active in their community, going so far as to host and pay for free outdoor movies to which the entire City of Williamsburg is invited.

• Chateau Morrisette, Inc., Floyd

Chateau Morrisette is a little off the beaten path, but they use it to their advantage. While many Central and Northern Virginia wineries may garner more foot traffic, the 30-year-old vintner uses its idyllic location along the Blue Ridge Parkway to advertise its solitude and unspoiled beauty. It’s an easy jaunt for day-trippers as well as a get-away destination. Today, it is one of the largest vineyards in Virginia, employing scores and helping cottage industries flourish in Floyd, where manufacturing jobs have steadily declined.

• GearClean, Inc., Winchester

When the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, it was a Virginia company that found an environmentally friendly way to help safely decontaminate vessels streaming back from the front lines of the clean-up effort. Founded in 2006, GearClean has relied on its innovative cleaning technology and service to grow its business in a variety of ways. However, the company has not forgotten about its community. The company moved into a building abandoned 15 years ago by the faltering apple industry in one of the poorest parts of town. Now new tenants are inquiring, bringing an economic light to the North End neighborhood and Winchester.

• Highground Services, Inc., Franklin

When their No. 1 customer and the largest employer in Franklin announced it was closing its paper plant and laying off 1,100 workers in 2009, it was a dramatic blow to Highground Services. Yet the engineering and consulting firm, formed in 2006, trudged on, even hiring 24 employees who were laid off at the plant. Many of their new hires helped form relationships with new customers, and today, the company boasts multiple “anchor” clients. Along the way, the firm bolstered its ability to seek government contracts by locating in an area underutilized by businesses. The move supports the community by not only locating its headquarters in the so-called HUBZone, but many of its employees as well.

• L & R Precision Tooling Inc., Lynchburg

With little notice, L&R Precision Tooling’s largest customer moved its operations to Mexico and Asia in 2001, cutting business almost in half. It was a devastating hit to the relatively new machine shop. The company learned a valuable lesson, and today, after nearly 15 years in business, they have a much more diversified client base. With a reputation of taking on the most difficult machining work, business is brisk today. In 2010, they moved into a new 57,000-square-foot building and employ more than 30 people. They are a cornerstone in the Lynchburg community, often supporting local causes.

• Lindstrand USA, Inc., South Boston

With the arrival of Lindstrand USA in 2004, a new high-tech industry took off in South Boston and Halifax County. As the maker of lighter-than-air cell technology, Lindstrand expanded to the area to target government contracts including projects in aeronautics, although the technology can be used in a variety of ways, including fighting tunnel fires or forestry. The versatile product was the brainchild of Swedish-born inventor, Ph.D. and expert hot air balloonist (and thrill-seeker), Per Lindstrand. Since its arrival from across the pond, Lindstrand USA has faced many challenges, forcing it to diversify and navigate logistic and bureaucratic hurdles. However, today it employs 30 full-time workers locally, nearly 90 percent of whom were out of work for longer than two years prior to being hired. In an area that has seen the decline of the tobacco, furniture and textiles industries, Lindstrand USA is a much welcomed lift.

• MountainRose Vineyards, Inc., Wise

MountainRose Vineyards coaxes award-winning wines from previously coal-mined soil and jobs from a rocky local economy. As the only winery for miles near Wise, the Lawson family struck out in 2004 to make a great product. Along the way, they helped spawn a new industry in the heart of coal country. Using sustainable farming methods, MountainRose today produces 11 varieties of wine grapes on nearly 13 acres. They look confidently to the future, no matter the terrain ahead.

• Office Plus Business Centre (Est. as Ace Office Supply renamed to Haynsworth, Inc. in 1960), Danville

Since it was founded in 1937, the Haynsworth family-owned Office Plus Business Centre has endured four moves, a fire, and the death of its founder and second generation President, and renaming the company five times! Its newest challenge: big-box retailers and their Internet sales. Yet, the business, now in its fourth generation, has adapted. They formed a key relationship with the nation’s largest office products buying group, reward customers for shopping on their Internet site, added new product categories to supplement sales, and re-focused the business to the founder’s original business model. They also engage employees and, most of all, remain committed to quality customer service “after the sale.” Customers often walk out of the store with a courtesy bottle of water. In addition to employing more than a dozen people they are active in an array of local charity and civic groups. For this, they have been named a finalist for the second year in a row in the Resilience Award competition.

• Southwest Virginia Veterinary Services, Lebanon

Three years after they opened what would one day become Southwest Virginia Veterinary Services (SVVS), Drs. Margaret and Bayard Rucker had to re-launch their business. The year was 1978, just three years after the couple graduated from veterinary school. As one of only two veterinary hospitals in rural Russell County, and without any real business experience, they were quickly overrun with too many customers, seeing patients during the day and performing surgery at night. They eventually connected with more experienced practice owners, learned from their mistakes and tried again. Today, the business remains a stalwart part of the community. With an emphasis on the best care possible, customer relations and training staff, the business has grown, even upgrading its facility in 2009. In addition to numerous critical services they perform daily for pets and owners in the area, they support a variety of local charities.

• Thomas A. Johnson Furniture Company, Lynchburg

While his ultimate dream is to build trade schools that empower people and communities, Thomas A. Johnson, whose company is a finalist two years in a row, has made significant strides along the way. In April, Johnson invested in a 131,000-square foot facility, expanding his operation for the second time. His commitment to working with the city in revitalizing projects is as important as his charitable giving.

• Todos Supermarket, Woodbridge

With the opening of a new 50,000 square-foot grocery store last April, Todos Supermarket celebrates a milestone. It’s only recently that business returned to levels before the foreclosure crises decimated adjacent neighborhoods. A controversial local immigration law passed in 2008 had a chilling effect on customers and put the market and its owner and founder, Carlos Castro, in the middle of a fight that roiled the community. Castro, who fled El Salvador’s civil war as a boy, helped lead opposition to the law while working to bridge a cultural and community divide in Prince William County. The county ultimately revised the law, which gave police power to investigate a person’s legal status to only those in custody for a suspected crime. Now Castro looks to the future, hoping his new anchor store at Marumsco Plaza will play a key role in the revitalization of Route 1 in Woodbridge.

The Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards honor the most resilient businesses in Virginia — those which displayed growth, a dogged entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to community in areas facing high unemployment, high poverty and low entrepreneurial activity.

Five winners will be announced at a special dinner, reception and awards presentation in the Dome Room of the University of Virginia’s historic Rotunda on Wednesday, Sept. 7, where all finalists will join state and local officials, economic development and business leaders, and Darden representatives.

“The goal of the Resilience Awards is to bring well-deserved attention to highly successful businesses in parts of Virginia that some might unwisely overlook,” said Greg Fairchild, executive director of the Tayloe Murphy Center. “These finalists demonstrate the strength of Virginia’s main street businesses, even in the face of significant economic obstacles. With average annual profit growth rates of 42 percent and average annual employment growth rates of 20 percent, in areas where the average company is actually declining, these firms embody resilience.”

To help spur economic growth and entrepreneurial efforts in hard-hit areas of the Commonwealth, Tayloe Murphy Resilience Award Winners receive more than recognition from one of the best business schools in the country. Through ongoing media coverage, opportunities to engage key business and government leaders, and enrollment in a week-long Executive Education course at Darden — valued at $8,000–$12,000 — Resilience Award winners each year gain visibility and resources to help their company and community continue to grow and succeed.

The Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards are presented in part by sponsorship from Virginia Business.

To learn more about the Sept. 7 awards ceremony, please visit the Tayloe Murphy Center website or contact Chris Allerton at or call 434-979-2678.

Tax Holiday Begins

Back to school is closer than you think, so that’s why Virginia’s tax free shopping holiday begins today.

This weekend only, mom and dad will enjoy tax free shopping on school supplies that cost $20 or less, and on clothing for purchases of $100 or less.

What’s included in this tax-free retail extravaganza you might ask. Luckily for you, the state has made a very easy to read website with all of the answers.


Tommy Bahama Opens this Weekend

Woodbridge, Va. — They’re celebrating over at Potomac Mills mall this weekend with the opening of Tommy Bahama Outlet.

The mall’s management will ring in the opening of the new store with live music, giveaways and refreshments.

Located in the mall’s fashion district in neighborhood one, Tommy Bahama sells polo shirts, t-shirts, dresses, fragrances and swimwear.

The grand opening celebration will take place Saturday from noon until 6 p.m.

Tommy Bahama is one of three new stores coming to the shopping center.

Tackett’s Mill Hoping for a Renaissance

The Old Mill at Tackett’s Mill is a staple that sets the shopping center apart from others in eastern Prince William County. (Mary Davidson/

Editor’s note: This is the second part of an ongoing series about redeveloping the Potomac Communities.

Lake Ridge, Va. — Tackett’s Mill shopping center in Lake Ridge was ahead of its time.

As redevelopment in the Potomac Communities has shifted from strip malls to walkable, urban centers, Tackett’s Mill — with its shopping, office space, residential neighborhoods within walking distance and transit connections – was the original town center.

Built in 1971, it was one of a only a handful of places to shop in eastern Prince William and was the only center to serve the developing Lake Ridge community. At the time of construction, the paved portion of Old Bridge Road (Lake Ridge’s thoroughfare) stopped at Antietam Drive at Woodbridge Senior High School, but continued west as a gravel road to the site of the present day Chinn Center, linking with Davis Ford Road, (now Prince William Parkway) said Rappaport Companies spokeswoman Sheryl Simeck.

Rappaport owns Tackett’s Mill Center and is in the process of repairing a walkway and elevator at the 40-year-old complex. The company aims to fill empty spaces at the center with new tenants.

The center, which was once home to a movie theater, has seen changes over the years. The theatre gone, a fast food restaurant boarded up and a empty pad site where a gas station once stood, officials hope things at the center will turn around.

“Tackett’s Mill is presently undergoing major renovations…It is also under new management, and I believe they have the desire to inject new life into the center. Time will tell, but between the improvements being made and the community’s renewed interest in walkabilty and ‘live, work, and play’ opportunities, you never know, Tackett’s Mill may very well be poised for a renaissance,” said Prince William County Occoquan District Supervisor Mike May.

The largest remaining store at the center, Safeway, is also undergoing some exterior renovations, and Statements The Salon recently expanded at the center. Negotiations are underway to bring a new tenant to the site of the old gas station, but Simeck is tight lipped about the project.

There are also rumors that the boarded up fast food restaurant, a Burger King, could reopen.

Photos By: Mary Davidson

Many say things started to go downhill for the center when another shopping center with a similar name, Potomac Mills, grew to not only be the dominant retail destination in the Potomac Communities but one of the largest in the state. Stores once at Tackett’s Mill moved to to the  mall in Woodbridge to have better access to shoppers traveling Prince William Parkway and Interstate 95.

And as charming as Tackett’s Mill is, with its old stone mill and lake, success for businesses hinges on traffic.

“While architecture is important, what matters from the retail side of the business is the center’s visibility, how many cars pass by it each day, the number of people who live near the shopping center and what their average incomes are — that can determine success for the center,” said Simeck.

Competition from nearby shopping centers makes it more difficult to find tenants for Tackett’s Mill, but Rappaport hopes to find a large, destination store to lease space at the center and surround it with smaller, locally-owned businesses that cater to a specific customer base, said Simeck.

Overall, Tackett’s Mill is only a portion of the redevelopment effort in Lake Ridge, in a neighborhood where residents say they want to use their cars less and walk more.

“We have added pedestrian paths along Old Bridge in front of Woodbridge High [Senior] School, and more sidewalks and walking paths are going to be constructed starting very soon between the Festival at Old Bridge and Mohican Road on the north side of Old Bridge. Once complete, these sidewalks and trails will form an interconnected pedestrian corridor, where folks can walk to the store or friends home without the need to get into their cars,” added May.

The series: Redeveloping the Potomac Communities
Part 1:  Emerging town centers in Woodbridge could spell trouble for small businesses

Town Centers Could Stamp Out Small Businesses

Potomac Town Center at Stonebridge is home to Wegman’s supermarket and has been heralded an early success in the redevelopment of Woodbridge.

Editor’s note: This is the first part of an ongoing series about redeveloping the Potomac Communities.

Woodbridge, Va. –– As redevelopment in Woodbridge continues its shift from strip malls to urban town centers, some smaller businesses may not survive.

Town center developments like Belmont Bay in North Woodbridge on the Occoquan River, with easy connections to Virginia Railway Express and Interstate 95, to the planned Harbor Station near Dumfries, embody the vision of a new Woodbridge where residents can live, work and play.

At the center of these developments, arguably an early success in the area’s redevelopment is Potomac Town Center at Stonebridge, home to Wegman’s supermarket.

The center’s most vocal supporter, Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi, says developers here are doing all the right things. “It’s taken us decades to get to the position we are. National best practices, architects, urban planners are all doing things differently in communities and, dammit, we need to do that here,” he said.

Despite a depressed economy, Potomac Town Center, which already boasts several chain restaurants and a gated residential neighborhood, has moved forward with construction on a second phase to include office space.

In contrast, Woodbridge’s main street, U.S. 1, is lined with overwhelmingly vacant strip malls, fast food restaurants and car dealerships, and t hey may not have a place in the new Woodbridge.

“In the life cycle in many of the freestanding, low volume retail functions, they disappear, as they have over the years,” said Director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis Dr. Steven Fuller. “Stores come and go. Some will survive if they change their merchandising if they change to meet the changing marketplace.”

As younger families move into the area, many businesses will have to offer more products and services in one place.

“I think you can look around Woodbridge and point to some places like restaurants that are destinations that will survive, and there are others such as the [car] dealerships…and they’ll find some other place to locate, possibly, or they go out of business,” added Fuller.

There are plans to widen U.S. 1 from four to six lanes in an effort to add capacity to the already congested road, as well as more mass transit buses.

The new Woodbridge, says Principi, will be a place where both old and new will be able to coexist.

“For this to occur and to be successful, we have got to infuse the existing businesses and relocate new businesses here. So, it’s not about moving them, it’s about making sure in our planning process in the horizon over time that we are doing everything possible to expand their business, because, quite frankly, as we expand Route 1 and have more traffic, they are going to be a larger customer base,” said Principi.

No Saving Woodbridge Borders

During its final days, many flocked to Borders Books at Stafford Marketplace on final deals on books, movies and music. (Mary Davidson/

Woodbridge, Va. — A plan to save the Borders bookstore in Woodbridge has fallen flat on its face.

Books-A-Million aimed to purchase 30 of the company’s remaining stores all going out of business after the company declared bankruptcy earlier this year.

The bid to buy the store ­­on Prince William Parkway — one of the three Borders in the Washington area and the only location in Virginia Books-A-Million was interested in – collapsed when the two companies could not agree on terms, reports the Washington Business Journal.

Books-A-Million currently has a large book store and coffee shop inside Potomac Mills mall. If the company does acquire the Borders store, there is no word yet on what would happen to the Books-A-Million store inside the mall.

Borders last was unable to find a buyer for the ailing company and begun a massive liquidation of their remaining merchandise.

In February the company closed 30 percent of their stores, including a location in North Stafford. The storefront remains empty.

Business Owners Weigh In on Debt Debate

Prince William County, Va. — As politicians in Washington argue over the nation’s debt ceiling, business owners in Prince William County are watching the debate closely.

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce released results of an internal survey conducted noting that 94 percent of business owners polled say they are following the debate, but their survey showed division amongst business owners as some aren’t sure if the debt ceiling should be raised.

According to the survey, 18 percent of those polled said raising the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling limit could lead to further economic crisis, while 62 percent of the respondents say officials should raise the debt limit by the imposed Aug. 2 deadline.

Others were unsure if missing the deadline would actually have an impact on the country, according to the chamber.

Officials have warned that if the deadline is not met some government obligations, like social security and repayment of loans, may not be met.

“An overwhelming majority of respondents expressed that the current climate of uncertainty is stifling business investment and jobs creation,” said Prince William Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Andrea Whaley.

The survey comes at time when a new report states Virginia is actually loosing job gains made last year.

A quarter of jobs gained since February 2010 have now been lost, according to a report in the Washington Examiner.

Total employment in the state is down by more than 120,000 jobs when measured against pre-recession statistics, according to the report.

End of the Line for Borders

Borders says it will begin liquidating its assets as early as Friday and close all of its remaining stores, including a location in Woodbridge, by September, reports the Wall Street Journal.

 Original Post 4:55 p.m.
Woodbridge, Va. —
 The days appear to be numbered for the last remaining Borders book store in the Potomac Communities.

The company imposed a deadline of Sunday afternoon to find a buyer for the remaining 400 stores, but that deadline passed without a buyer, reports the Washington Business Journal.

The company closed more than 600 stores earlier this year, including a location at Stafford Marketplace in North Stafford, but the Woodbridge location in the Smoketown Stations shopping plaza on Prince William Parkway remains open.

There have been reports the company is in talks with Books-A-Million to buy the remaining stores, but no decision has been announced.

Books-A-Million operates a large book store inside Potomac Mills Mall.

Economic development officials in Stafford have yet to say what might replace the former bookstore, which included a coffee shop that was a popular hangout for those with a passion for free wireless internet access.

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Stafford Lures Woodbridge Contractor

Woodbridge government contractor Tridex Associates announced Wednesday they are relocating their offices to Stafford and bringing 110 jobs to the county. (Uriah Kiser/

Stafford, Va. –– Chalk one in the win column for Stafford, as the county that dubbed itself business friendly convinced Woodbridge-based Tridex Associates to move 110 employees there.

The government contractor is abandoning their headquarters in an industrial complex on Farm Creek Drive for a new multi-building campus at the Central Stafford Commerce Center on Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1) just south of the county’s courthouse and administration center.

“This is the culmination of a very exhaustive process for us whereby we evaluated all of the options available to us that would meet our needs and long-term corporate goals for our future in the governmental contracting industry” said TAI’s president and CEO Chris Hudson in a press release.

The agency is expected to hire at least 25 new employees after relocating to Stafford.

The move also brings with it a new consortium between Tridex and Southwest Research Institute. The two companies will develop telecommunications tools and electronic security systems, design new hardware and conduct prototype engineering, according to a press release from Stafford County.

A three-level office, and a 23,000 square feet research and manufacturing center is also being built at the Central Stafford Commerce Center and is expected to be completed by 2012.

The announcement comes as Stafford County officials touted some of the lowest unemployment numbers in the region. The county’s Board of Supervisors recently passed a plan to make the county more attractive to businesses.

Potomac Hospital’s Parent Company Posts Higher Profits

Woodbridge, Va. — The new owners of Potomac Hospital saw a 50 percent increase in profits last year.

The 2009 acquisition of the hospital on Opitz Boulevard in Woodbridge, and a increase in Virginia’s Medicaid subscription plans helped Sentara Healthcare reach the increased profits, the reports.

Sentara, a non-profit, posted $2.21 billion in net assets at the end of December, more than $300 million more than the year before.

The company donated $16.9 million to charity in 2010, according

In addition to hospitals in Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, the company earlier this year also acquired hospitals in Charlottesville and Harrisonburg.

Private Firms Purchase BJ’s Wholesale

BJs Wholesale Club in Woodbridge is one of six locations in Northern Virginia. (Uriah Kiser/

Woodbridge, Va. — One of the first wholesale shopping clubs in the Potomac Communities is going private.

The retailer has struck a $2.8 billion deal to be acquired by two private firms.

Shareholders would receive $51.25 per share of common stock, that’s just above where the stock traded at a one-year high of $50.29 per share, according to CNBC.

The wholesale club has locations in Woodbridge, Alexandria, Centreville and Falls Church.

New Bankruptcy Office Opens


North Stafford, Va. –– A long-time Northern Virginia bankruptcy lawyer has opened up shop in Stafford.

Robert Weed, who has offices in Manassas and Woodbridge, says he chose to open a Stafford office to not only be closer to his clients who already visit him in his Prince William County offices, but because the economic downturn has severely affected residents in the county.

“Stafford County, Va., has some of the longest commutes in America. So people in Stafford have been hit harder than most when gasoline hit four dollars a gallon,” Weed stated in his company blog. “Stafford also has a low average age–fifth lowest in Virginia. That low median age translates to mean, young families with children. The folks hardest hit when there’s a loss of income.”

The downturn in the housing market also had negative effects on Stafford residents, he added.

His office is on Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) in North Stafford, and he chose the location North of the Rappahannock River to ensure he wouldn’t have to split his cases between federal courts in Alexandria and Richmond.

The number of bankruptcies filed in the U.S. Eastern District Court of Virginia in Alexandria increased over the last year by 1.7 percent to more than 28,000 filings, according to statistics from

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