After 27 years of service in the U.S. Military, Vienna resident Timothy Redmond decided to share his experiences in an autobiography.
“As You Were” is a novel about Redmond’s personal life experience after 9/11 and the time he served on duty in Afghanistan. Though the book came out in 2018, it continues to attract attention from readers as he tours local bookshops.
Before he even decided to write a novel, Redmond discovered his passion as a novelist during a creative writing workshop for retired combat veterans hosted by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
During the writing process, Redmond told Tysons Reporter he spent time processing traumatic events that happened to him and his close friends — including the death of a friend.
“It’s stressful to relive some of that,” he said.
He also said it took him a little extra time to write the book because he “wanted to get it right” and respect the people he served with through remembrance. Redmond mentioned that several members in his former unit read the book and gave positive feedback.
From the description of the book on Amazon:
A freshly-minted prosecutor with the Brooklyn DA’s Office, Tim Redmond thought he’d left his life as a Green Beret behind as he pulled into the World Trade Center train station on the morning of 9/11. Three months later he was back in Afghanistan with his old A-Team gearing up for the fight of their lives! Follow this team of Special Forces on their raucous and heroic journey through the unimaginable horrors of war and their unique struggle to return to a home they can no longer make sense of.
Redmond shared his book with the community on Aug. 4, when he set up a table at the new Barnes & Noble in the Mosaic District. He signed autographs and bonded with community members from around the region.
Looking forward to the future, Redmond, who works at a local law firm in Tysons, said that he and his publicist are in the process of scheduling similar events in Tysons.
Photo courtesy Tim Redmond
YetiCloud in Tysons recently received a facelift after the owners decided to rework their business model.
When co-founders Tim Marcinowski and Peter Fraedrich began the company, previously called TaskFit.io, they aimed to solve information technology problems for companies using the cloud with assistance from artificial intelligence (AI). But Marcinowski said that their market research showed many potential clients were risk-averse and not comfortable relying on AI.
Instead of giving up on their venture, they decided to switch tactics and rethink how they cater to the needs of clients. They decided to edge away from solutions using AI and instead focused on offering consultations, training and a 24/7 platform support for customers.
“We monitor in real-time and take action in two ways,” Marcinowski told Tysons Reporter.
When an issue arises, the company gives clients an option to either direct YetiCloud on how they want an issue solved or allow YetiCloud to handle the problem as it best sees fit.
When rebranding, the founders tried to synthesize the passion of their customer base and their target goal — which is to simplify and help troubleshoot cloud use.
Marcinowski told Tysons Reporter when renaming the brand, the company began to play with names of a fictional character and settled on a Yeti because “we thought it was funny we could say we solved the big hairy problem of the cloud.”
Currently, YetiCloud works with about 15 clients, four of which are paying customers, according to Marcinowski. The company offers a free version of the software to establish relationships with potential customers to build a brand alliance and product trust.
In the beginning, the company was entirely funded through profits and personal capital from the co-founders. “We had an early potential investor but the terms didn’t match up,” Marcinowski said. He told Tysons Reporter that the investor wanted 6% of all the profits, but he and his co-founder decided to turn down the opportunity.
Since October 2018, the company brought on several new employees and plans to keep expanding. For the time being YetiCloud will remain at the WeWork location in Tysons Corner.
“We definitely have the ability to flip the perception of this area,” he said when discussing the possibility of Tysons becoming the next technology hub, especially with the new Amazon HQ2 and other companies coming to Northern Virginia.
By 2024, Marcinowski wants to have $20 million yearly reoccurring revenue, which he said would help legitimize the company by building a solid financial foundation.
YetiCloud also has a new goal to raise $600,000 from new investors within the next six months.
New companies like YetiCloud must find “alternative solutions to problems that didn’t exist 10 years ago,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Tim Marcinowski
Come this Sunday, Mad Fox Brewing Company will close its doors in Falls Church.
CEO and Executive Brewer Bill Madden announced the closure earlier in July on Facebook right before the brewpub’s ninth anniversary.
Just days away from closing, Madden shared with Tysons Reporter more details about the closure and some of his favorite memories at Mad Fox Brewing Company.
Tysons Reporter: What comes next?
Bill Madden: For me? I’m thinking about whether I do something else — another type of brewing project — because that’s what I’m trained to do or whether I go into what they call ally trade.
I really haven’t had a chance to think about it that much because we were working hard to try to make this happen, and I couldn’t go public with anything until last Tuesday so I couldn’t really reach out and talk to people for fear that it might tip the scale or reveal my hand.
It’s tough when you have a business that you know is about to close. You have to do it the right way and we wanted to talk to the bank, talk to the landlord let them know so it wouldn’t be a big surprise and let our management team and let our employees know. And then we went to the public rather than surprising everybody and locking the door.
TR: It sounded like from the Facebook post that the reason why you’re closing is because of the abundance of breweries that have popped up in the area. Is that why?
BM: Well the result is our sales have reached a historic low and as much as the landlord and bank were trying to work with us, we couldn’t come to anything that was even break even. When you’re at that point, you have to say, “It’s time to close.”
So what has happened since the rules were changed in 2012 and it’s specific to Senate Bill 604 — that a food component was not required to sell a pint of beer. Once that happened, we had a whole number of breweries that opened up.
When that changed, we went from 40 breweries in the state of Virginia to 250 plus and we’ve slowly seen our beer sales go down each year from then.
TR: It looked like from the Facebook comments that several breweries around the area were thanking you for your support and your help.
BM: We were at the forefront. We were at the beginning of this new explosion of breweries or whatever you want to call it. So a lot of those brewers came through here asking questions, asking how you do it. And I was always willing to help and talk to people and be very honest about what we were doing here. And a lot of folks learned from us and then a lot of folks learned from those people.
TR: But you were the first brewery in Falls Church.
BM: Yes — ever, that I can find record of. I always like to do a little historical research on any location I’ve worked in. Unless some of the taverns in the colonial period brewed their own, we were the first in Falls Church.
TR: There are 450 plus comments on the Facebook post.
BM: I never realized so many people had their first dates here or maybe proposed here or had their rehearsal dinner here. Or decided to have kids. There was one person who said they decided to have kids here. And I was like, “Oh my god! That’s an interesting conversation to have in our brewpub.”
It’s bittersweet. We have a lot of memories and we have a lot to be proud of. We hold our heads high for everything that we did. We collaborated with local businesses. We had rehearsal dinners and birthdays and parties.
TR: What are your fondest memories looking back over the last nine years?
BM: The early days when everything was still very new and fresh and a lot of breweries were starting to open up. We would hold events here with those [new] brewers — DC Brau, Port City, Three Stars. All of them that had started after us that were so excited and so eager to promote themselves and we were the space that did it for them in the early days. And a lot of those guys and gals came through here and gave us a lot of great experiences and now a lot of them are very, very successful.
TR: How was the anniversary party last Saturday?
BM: It was unbelievable busy — business like we haven’t seen since we opened. Probably was many [people] as the fire marshall would allow. There’s been a great outpouring of love. I think what’s happened — it’s affirmation for what we did in the beginning.
We would have folks who would come from great distances away — Vienna, Centreville, Reston — to come and experience what we had to offer here because there wasn’t anything like that in their area. Since the growth of all the breweries, now they have a brewery in their town that maybe they go to, but they remember what a great time they had here. And they realized they had a limited time to experience that again, and they’ve been showing a lot of love.
TR: Many commenters said they are going to miss the Orange Whip IPA. Do you have a favorite beer?
BM: They’re all my children.
(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Earlier this week, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority announced that it had poached Arlington’s top economic development official, Victor Hoskins.
Currently the head of Arlington Economic Development, Hoskins recently wooed Amazon and its HQ2 to Arlington County. Come August, he will become FCEDA’s new president and CEO — one year after its now-retired and longtime leader, Gerry Gordon, announced his plans to leave.
Tysons Reporter talked to Hoskins about how he plans to head up one of the largest economic development agencies in the country.
“I’m done in Arlington.”
Hoskins said he entered the process for the FCEDA role back in May during the agency’s second hiring search for the position.
Back in December, he told ARLnow that he planned to work for Arlington County until the office vacancy rate dropped from its then-18 percent rate to 10 or 12 percent.
With a current rate of 16.7 percent, Hoskins said that Arlington County has “nothing to worry about” with Amazon coming in. Hoskins said that the career move is coming at the right time — “Yes, I’m done in Arlington.”
“If you look at my history, I pretty much do what I need to do and move on,” he said. In the case of both his former economic development role in D.C. and his Arlington County job, Hoskins, who describes himself as a person who likes to finish projects, said that he leaves once he’s accomplished the specific challenges of a job.
New Challenges Ahead
“What I look for in a career change is a challenge,” he said. “This is a different kind of challenge. Just the size of the market is pretty amazing.”
Hoskins said he is looking forward to encouraging companies in Fairfax County to recruit and train more top workers with a talent-focused strategy.
“We already have a lot of talent residing [in Fairfax County],” he said. “We need to keep the people we have.” A part of that will include offering more opportunities to retrain employees with skills like cybersecurity coding, he added.
He also said he would like to see FCEDA get more closely involved with the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development, in addition to continuing work with the Planning Commission, Virginia Department of Transportation and other county agencies to set priorities.
Additionally, Hoskins said that the county could use more work on placemaking.
“The size of Fairfax County makes it difficult to create places — concentrated nodes of activity,” he said, which could include creating more urban villages around the Silver Line stations and making “a nexus between residential and commercial nodes.”
Another area Hoskins wants to work on is making Fairfax County more attractive to millennials.
Some ideas he has: creating places where people want to work and eat outside, offering more housing choices, making “interesting environments” and strengthening mass transportation.
Hoskins was quick to note that many of the challenges he mentioned are not unique to the county, which he praised for its global reputation and competition with places like London and Paris.
“Fairfax is amazing right now,” he said, lauding the county’s quality of life, including its public schools and parks. “Fairfax has it all. What we’re trying to do it to move it to the next level.”
Amazon’s Impact on Fairfax County
While Fairfax County lost its bid for Amazon, Hoskins said that the tech giant will impact Northern Virginia, from adding a plethora of new job opportunities to a “back and forth between employees and employers” with Amazon and local companies.
Hoskins also mentioned a recent report by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, which estimated that roughly 33 percent of Amazon’s workforce would live in Fairfax County, while 16.4 percent would live in Arlington.
“It’s a higher percentage than [Amazon employees who] will live and work in Arlington,” Hoskins said.
On a larger scale, Hoskins said Amazon will transform Northern Virginia into a more innovative environment that will increase the private sector.
“[Amazon will bring an] innovation focus to the region where companies begin thinking differently about how they work,” he said.
Hoskins starts his new role on Aug. 5. Until then, he said he will help with the leadership transition at his current job before having two to three days off.
“Building an economy is more like solving a very complex puzzle,” he said.
Photo courtesy Fairfax County Economic Development Authority
Years ago, there was a stinkbug invasion at a farm in Vienna. They were a source of concern for everyone on the farm except Clarene Vickery, who turned catching and collecting the bugs into a game for her children.
Ray Vickery Jr. remembered his mother, who died last Wednesday (June 26) at the age of 101, as a woman who could turn challenges into fun opportunities.
“She was a real life force,” Ray said. “She was able to meet and overcome problems.”
Clarene founded the Parkwood School in Vienna in 1956 and — over her 64 years as director and owner — helped teach more than 10,000 students. Ray said his mother founded the school at a time when there was no public kindergarten in Virginia and education for young children wasn’t seen as a priority.
“She started Parkwood in our living room,” he said. “She was still running the school months before her passing.”
Ray said his mother loved working with children and was able to communicate with them on a personal level.
In addition to her time running Parkwood School, Clarene was a founder of the Virginia Association of Early Childhood Education and a founding member of Providence Baptist Church in Tysons. In recent years, Clarene received recognition from a variety of public officials and a formal resolution commending her life work from the Virginia General Assembly, where her son Ray was once a member.
“She taught us it’s really important to value people for themselves, not for status or money,” said Ray.
When she wasn’t teaching, Ray said his mother liked to drive. She would take long solo trips back to Mississippi, where she was born. When she was too old to drive safely, Ray said she would take the car to the church parking lot and drive around “just to keep her hand on the wheel.”
A service will be held at Vienna Baptist Church (541 Marshall Road SW) at noon today (Tuesday). Clarene will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with her husband.
“She appreciated that there was still a small town atmosphere [in Vienna],” Ray said. “She wanted to maintain that person to person connection.”
Photo via Mark Keam/Facebook
The funeral home was founded in 1881 — the same year President Garfield was assassinated and a gunfight took place at the O.K Corral. From then until earlier this year, the business was family owned. But when the last of that family line turned 80 this spring, the business was passed on to others who had worked closely with the family over years.
But President and General Manager Robert Carmical, who has worked at the funeral home since 1994, says that while some things have evolved over time, the service hasn’t changed.
“We’re here to help,” said Carmical. “The [work we do] is in the little things, like printing booklets and arranging the music. It’s a celebration of this person’s life.”
Over time, Carmical said there’s been some evolutions in the funeral industry. Most funerals were traditionally held in homes or in churches, but with the slow erosion of church connections, Carmical said businesses like his are seeing more people asking to hold the services at the funeral home. Accordingly, the old church-style pews have been replaced by chairs.
He also said cremation has become more popular as an alternative to burial.
Carmical’s favorite thing about funerals is learning about people.
“You learn things about people, like their hobbies,” said Carmical. “These are things some people don’t know about [their friends], like they collected stamps or toys, or how everyone has a sweet tooth.”
Ashley Hopko contributed to this story
Fairfax County police officers decided to chip in to buy a new car seat for a Merrifield mom after she was in a car crash.
It all started when Officer E.J. Green from the McLean District Station stopped to make sure everyone in a two-car crash in Merrifield on Sunday (May 26) was all right.
No one was hurt, although one of the cars needed to be towed. Its driver — a mom who lives in Merrifield — decided to walk home.
“Green offered to take her child’s car seat to her so she wouldn’t have to carry it, but quickly noticed that the car seat was old and in rough shape,” the Fairfax County Police Department wrote in a Facebook post.
Green then talked to the rest of the McLean daywork — the A squad — about how the car seat wouldn’t protect the child, and they all decided to pool their money to buy a new car seat for the mom.
Green and Officer Brian Hungarter surprised the mom and her daughter with the new car seat about an hour and a half later at 1:30 p.m., a spokesperson for the police department told Tysons Reporter.
“The woman was grateful, calling the officers’ actions sweet, kind and unexpected,” the police department wrote on Facebook. “We applaud these officers for making a positive difference in the lives of our community members!”
Photo via Facebook
Even after 47 years, Ar-Jon Portable Toilets in Vienna is still “a family-owned business.”
The septic company is based out of 327 Owaissa Road S.E. and offers portable restrooms and sanitation equipment for any type of event that might need them.
“It’s a family thing,” Ben Wood said of the company his father started in 1972. Ben joined the business in 1975. “I’m the only son. My mother still runs the office and she’s helped out by my niece. I have two sons and the younger one works for us.”
Wood said the company has expanded and changed considerably since his father’s time. Over the last few years, there have been new innovations in septic-toilet cleaning.
“He started off with 12 wooden ones he built in the backyard,” Wood said. “Now, we’re at around 2,500.”
Like many businesses, Wood said Ar-Jon was hit hard by the 2008 recession, but the growth of construction in the area — and the subsequent need for portable toilets — has been a boon.
“Vienna is growing,” Wood said. “They’re tearing down all the 1940s homes and putting up big ones.”
For Wood, that means dozens of construction sites, all of which need portable toilets. Wood said that’s a large part of where the company’s business comes from.
Photo via Facebook
Vienna may be going through changes, but in some ways, life in The Italian Gourmet Deli (505 Maple Avenue W.) isn’t that different from when it opened in 1974.
Jeremy and Margaret Schottler are the owners of The Italian Gourmet. Jeremy bought it in 1995, having grown up in Vienna and worked in the deli throughout high school and college. He married Margaret in 2005, and shortly after, she began working at the business.
“The area has changed a lot since then,” Margaret said. “It’s a lot busier. We make frozen entrees, and once they were not big sellers, but now people really want them.”
Margaret said the shift is representative of a larger change in the town. When The Italian Gourmet started, Margaret said it was known as the place to get specialty Italian food at a time when Vienna — and Northern Virginia as a whole — were still very much viewed as part of the South.
“Everyone would spend their Sundays making marinara sauce and they’d come here for supplies,” she said.
While the quick-bites have become increasingly popular, the specialty side of the gourmet remains active from hand-rolled balls of mozzarella to basil from a nearby hydroponic farmer. Margaret said the deli even uses the same recipe and tomato base for their marinara as they always have.
One of the biggest changes over the last few years was the Schottlers opening Molly’s Yogurt, a frozen yogurt and gelato spot just a few doors down in the same shopping center. The location had been a framing store underneath overflow spaces owned by the Schottlers.
The framing store closed in the middle of the recession in 2010, but with frozen yogurt on the rise, Margaret said the family saw potential. Molly’s Yogurt — named after their daughter — opened that year and is basically an extension of the deli, sometimes using the same tools or kitchen.
In both locations, Margaret said they know most of their customers by name and enjoy answering questions people have about the deli and gelato.
“If people are making an effort to go out to shop, they want an experience,” said Margaret. “That’s what we will always provide — what chains aren’t able to.”
If you stop by the deli, Margaret recommends the Roman Sandwich, a collection of traditional cold cut meats loaded with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and more onto a 7-inch sub roll. Or if you swing by the frozen yogurt-gelato spot, Margaret said there’s plenty of options, but nothing beats classic chocolate.
Just a month shy of its 10-year-anniversary, a kids’ clothing boutique named Wee Chic recently open its first Virginia store in the Mosaic District.
Rewinding to when it all began, owner Bridget Quinn Stickline told Tysons Reporter that she started Wee Chic after struggling to find clothing she liked for her daughter, who was then a baby. “A retailer alert went off [in my head] — this is a void in the market. There’s opportunity here,” she said.
Stickline, who has worked in the garment industry and is a self-described “fabric-phile,” knew she wanted ethical fashion with a modern approach that she could buy in boutiques.
Fast forward to present day and Wee Chic sells appropriate kids’ clothing that parents can have a hard time finding, she said.
“Fashion forward and mom approved” is how Stickline describes the shop’s offerings, which include clothing for girls’ sizes from newborn up to size 16 and for boys from newborn up to size 8, along with toys and books. (Food-printed clothing, like sushi and tacos, are popular right now, she said.)
Originally based in the Baltimore-area, Wee Chic has a newly opened Mosaic District shop, which was formerly the location of Dawn Price Baby — another local kids’ boutique that started shuttering its stores last year after 15 years in business.
Stickline said that she heard about Price’s plan to retires and signed the lease for the space in March just a few months after Price’s lease ended.
“We saw that as a sign for us to make a move into Northern Virginia,” Stickline said, adding that she likes the variety of restaurants and mix of national chains and small businesses that call the Mosaic District home.
She says she hasn’t had any customers confuse the two shops, since the decor and merchandising “feel very different” from Dawn Price Baby.
Wee Chic embraces the individuality, fun and the flexibility that comes from being a small business, Stickline said.
She has embraced recent push in the industry toward selling gender-bending — not be confused with gender neutral — clothes and toys. “We’re seeing dinosaurs on girls’ clothing. Why didn’t this happen 10 years ago?” Stickline said, adding that she’s excited about how retailers are starting to think differently about gender.
Wee Chic is also unique in its refusal to sell products online — a move that might be surprising in an e-commerce age, but one that Stickline says creates in-person experiences that shoppers can’t replicate online. “For us, it’s about the human connection,” Stickline said. “We get to know clients really well.”
Even in “Age of Amazon” — as Stickline calls it, the boutique sees returning customers — “the Wee Chic Squad” — that allows Stickline to watch kids grow up.
“Kids come into our store and it’s their favorite store,” she said, adding that parents will bring their kids shopping there as a reward. “That’s a really cool feeling to create a space that kids love.”
Now age 12, Stickline’s daughter has outgrown Wee Chic, but has picked up her mom’s entrepreneurial spirit, Stickline said. “She was the original Wee Chic.”
Photo courtesy via Wee Chic