Last year in this space I extolled the virtues of the “Shop Local” campaign from the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce. By all measures, the campaign has been a great success for The Little City.
Our community is bustling with successful business establishments from the farmer’s market to the award-winning Mad Fox Brewing Company to the original Elevation Burger, as well as many businesses that you may not see every day like dentists, Viget Labs, an award-winning digital product and design company, and Quinn’s Auction Galleries, which has been featured on the Today Show and Antique Roadshow. Two truly local establishments that epitomize “community” recently celebrated incredible anniversaries: 40 years for Anthony’s Family Restaurant and 75 years for Sislers Stone. Anthony’s has been host to countless birthday and team celebrations for decades; for three generations the Sisler family has not only owned and operated the building material and stone masonry business, they serve on the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department.
Many new businesses have recently joined the business (and tax generating) rolls in Falls Church as well. In recent months, we have welcomed a variety of businesses that serve local clientele and attract customers from neighboring communities such as The Local Market, Famous Dave’s, Functional Fitness, Master Engravers, Spacebar, and Bikenetics. Soon, Body Dynamics will open in Pearson Square, and Falls Church residents and visitors will no doubt be excited to patronize Beadazzled, Brits on Broad, The Windy Apple, Sweet Frog, the new Dominion Jewelers building, and other new establishments. The Falls Church business community is strong – and growing stronger. Our flourishing business community plays an important part of our larger community by providing many benefits to the City and its residents.
Our local businesses offer much more than great selections of services, food, arts, and entertainment. They enliven our neighborhoods by providing local choices for goods and services that foster walking and biking and reduce our toll on the environment. They provide priceless contributions in the form of sponsorships, funding, donations, and volunteers to some of our favorite community activities like Watch Night, the Tinner Hill Blues Festival, Fall Festival, Memorial Day parade and activities, Relay for Life, FIRSTFriday of Falls Church, and more. Our local businesses also partner with the schools to help support teachers, provide volunteers, and offer jobs and internships for students. For example, Clare and Don’s Beach Shack co-owner, my wife Rebecca Tax, recently spent time in the Mary Ellen Henderson cafeteria to assist the staff with new healthy and exciting menu options. Of course, our businesses also generate important tax dollars for the City through a variety of taxes.
While our business community today is strong, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. The Little City stands at a crossroads, literally and figuratively. The region’s economy is coming out of recession; surrounding areas such as Merrifield, Tysons Corner and Arlington are investing in new buildings, transportation and development; and the Metro is expanding right at the edge of East Falls Church. If we do not seek smart development opportunities in the near future, Falls Church will be left behind these other areas and its draw as a fabulous place to live, work, attend school, and do business will inevitably diminish.
Well planned development – whether it is commercial, residential, or a mixture of the two – will make our streets more attractive and our businesses more successful. Such developments can help reduce the tax burden on residents while providing funding for capital improvements and other necessary expenditures. Smart growth can advance the many wonderful and vibrant things our community has to offer, such as convenience, walkability, green buildings, arts, history and successful local businesses. For example, the Chamber has recently advocated for smart development in the City including support for the North Washington Street Small Area Plan and for increased staffing for the City’s planning department.
The community of Falls Church is strong and the future of The Little City is bright. A thriving local business community will help make it even brighter. City hall is currently experiencing a welcome surplus in the projected revenue for this budget year. The increased revenues from commercial properties, sales tax, and meals tax are due in part to the growing success of our business community. Of course, these achievements would not be possible without the significant support of the residents in the local community who support and patronize our businesses.
A strong business community benefits our larger community in many ways. By continuing to support local businesses by shopping local in The Little City, you help ensure that our business community remains a vibrant and valuable part of our overall community.
Erik Pelton is trademark attorney, and member of Board of Directors of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce.