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A woman holds up a piece of handmade decor at the 2021 McLean Holiday Art and Crafts Festival (courtesy MCC)

The McLean Holiday Art and Crafts Festival will hit the 40-year mark this weekend, just as gift shopping kicks into full gear.

Featuring work by 80 artisans from around the region, the annual handmade crafts fair will be held Friday through Saturday (Dec. 2-4) inside the McLean Community Center. Hours will be 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

This will be second time that MCC hosts the event in person during the pandemic. It first returned to 1234 Ingleside Avenue last year after going virtual in 2020.

“This fun and festive community event includes every price point and is sure to inspire holiday cheer,” MCC Special Events Manager Catherine Nesbitt said in a news release. “Esteemed jurors have carefully selected artists who have created extraordinary treasures. Support your community and shop locally.”

Selected by a jury, the festival artists work in a range of mediums, from pottery, glass, wood and jewelry to soap, mixed media, holiday decor, and the culinary arts. Their works will be available for purchase.

There will also be an on-site café where visitors can grab a meal and drinks.

Admission is free for kids 12 and younger, but it otherwise costs $5, though that price covers all three days of the festival. The first 200 attendees will receive a free MCC-branded tote bag.

All proceeds will go to the nonprofit Northern Virginia Handcrafters Guild, which is cosponsoring the event and supports local artists with exhibits, scholarships and educational opportunities.

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The annual exhibit returns to Reston in early December (courtesy RCC)

Reston Community Center will host its 24th annual gifts and shopping exhibit in early December.

The Gifts from the HeART Exhibit and Holiday Gift Shopping Event will take place on Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at RCC Lake Anne (1609-A Washington Plaza North).

“Gifts from the HeART is an event that brings the community together, showcases great local artists, and helps Cornerstones,” RCC Arts Education Director Cheri Danaher said. “Our artists and the community eagerly participate in this unique shopping event, and their support of Cornerstones exemplifies the Reston spirit of providing support for those who need it.”

Started in 1999, the annual exhibit and sale has raised more than $19,000 for the nonprofit Cornerstones over the past 23 years, according to RCC.

Artists will display their creations on display in the Jo Ann Rose Gallery at RCC Lake Anne through Jan 9. The 3D gallery exhibit will remain on display through Feb. 18. Artist entry fees and 10% of all sales will be donated to Cornerstones.

Proceeds will go toward the organization’s Embry Rucker Community Shelter, Laurel Learning Center, and community services, including emergency food assistance and job counseling.

RCC will offer a directory of visual artists on its website the day of the exhibit. Interested shoppers can shop directly from the artists’ links.

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The start-up Collars and Co. says it invented a shirt style called dress collar polos (courtesy Collars & Co.)

Fresh off a successful appearance on the reality TV show “Shark Tank,” a Bethesda-based men’s fashion start-up will open its first physical store at Tysons Galleria this weekend.

The Collars & Co. pop-up will launch Sunday (Nov. 20) on the mall’s first floor in front of Saks Fifth Avenue. It will stay open through Thanksgiving weekend, departing after Dec. 4, the company announced Wednesday (Nov. 16).

“Inspired by holiday jet-setting, the pop-up store will highlight the comfort and versatility of Collars & Co.’s quality menswear products that make it the perfect clothing for holiday travel as well as the best gifts for men on-the-go,” the press release said.

The opening comes on the heels of Collars & Co. founder and CEO Justin Baer securing an investment deal worth $1 million on an episode of “Shark Tank” that aired Nov. 11.

Founded in 2021, the company has laid claim to inventing a “dress collar polo” as a more comfortable alternative to formal men’s dress shirts. It has sold 92,000 shirts and made $5.4 million with only online sales so far, Baer told the show’s panel of investors.

“It’s a stretchy, comfortable golf shirt, except the top has a firm collar on it, so it gives you the exact same look of a dress shirt, but it’s really just a comfortable polo,” Baer said in his pitch. “…We are helping guys look stylish and stay comfortable.”

The panel sounded impressed by the quality of the shirts, a few of which were handed out as examples, and the early success that the business has seen, but Baer nearly ended up empty-handed after he rejected a proposal from “sharks” Mark Cuban and Peter Jones.

The billionaire entrepreneurs offered to provide $300,000 in cash and a $700,000 line of credit for a 10% stake in Collars & Co., higher than the 3% Baer was seeking. He argued the offer was undervaluing the company, which led to comments about the unpredictable nature of fashion trends and fears of a looming recession.

“People aren’t buying shirts when they can’t pay their mortgage,” FUBU CEO Daymond John said, warning that “everything goes out of style.”

When Cuban and Jones said they wouldn’t invest for less than 10%, Baer relented and accepted their offer, which included market-rate interest.

“It’s first dollar in, meaning I get paid the minute you get paid by your customer,” Cuban said.

Open during regular mall hours, the Tysons Galleria store will have those signature dress collar polo shirts, a brand-new outerwear collection, and accessories. There will also be “an Instagram-worthy first-class travel photo opp” where shoppers can take pictures “in a space designed to look like the interior of a private jet,” the press release said.

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Morning Notes

McLean Central Park gazebo (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Recent Gun Violence Leaves D.C. Area on Edge — “In the D.C. area in recent days, two shootings in crowded public spaces — at the festival on U Street and at a Fairfax County mall — reinforced that no one is immune from violence. As a result, some area residents have begun to pull back. People have started to think twice before going to concerts and the mall.” [The Washington Post]

Tysons Software Company Lays Off 54 Workers — “ID.me Inc. has laid off dozens of employees following a period of rapid growth and just months after the Internal Revenue Service halted use of ID.me’s facial recognition technology…The company had expanded rapidly during the pandemic to keep up with growing demand at the time” [Washington Business Journal]

Man Charged in Fairfax City Assault — “A Maryland man was charged in connection with an assault that took place Saturday afternoon on Main Street, Fairfax City police said in a news release. Ronaldo Thomas, 41, of Capital Heights, Maryland, was charged with one count each of strangulation and assault and battery in connection with the choking of a woman outside the Main Street Marketplace, police said.” [Patch]

Annandale Dollar Tree to Reopen — Construction appears to be underway to repair the entrance to the Dollar Tree in the Bradlick Shopping Center. The store has been closed since a car crashed through the glass doors in October, but signs posted on the new doors indicate the shop will reopen “soon” and is now hiring. [Annandale Today]

Still Crickets on Downtown Herndon Project — “It appears unlikely, virtually impossible, that Comstock could break ground on the Herndon Redevelopment Project before summer starts. A groundbreaking date was first anticipated in late 2019 with project completion possibly in 2021.” [The Connection]

Fairfax City Welcomes New Nail Salon — “Sure, it’s easy to find a nail salon in nearly every city. But one look inside Raizun Nail Spa in Fairfax City lets customers know this spacious and upscale business is different from the rest. ‘Their salon is absolutely gorgeous,’ said Danette Nguyen, the City’s assistant economic development director.” [The Connection]

Tropical Storm Ida Relief Still Available — “The Washington Metropolitan Area District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reminds eligible business owners in Fairfax…to apply for working capital loans before the July 18 deadline. This disaster loan program is available to small businesses…and most private nonprofit organizations that were affected by the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida that occurred from Aug. 31 through Sept 4, 2021.” [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

Benches Dedicated to Former County Leaders — “Former Board Chairman and Braddock District Supervisor Sharon Bulova and former Braddock District Supervisor John Cook had benches dedicated in their honor at the Braddock District Office, which is also home to the Kings Park Library.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 75 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Chico’s in Reston Town Center has closed (staff photo by Fatimah Waseem)

Chico’s, a women’s clothing store, has officially shuttered its doors at Reston Town Center.

The business, which was located at 11910 Market Street, closed up shop last month.

It started off in 1983 as a small gallery and has since expanded across the country. There are several local locations, including McLean, Fairfax, and Leesburg.

There is no word yet on what will replace the store. The company did not return multiple requests for comment on why the store closed and when the last day of business was.

The closure comes amidst a flurry of recent changes in the town center, including the departure of Bow Ties Cinema and the addition of a new athletic facility from The St. James.

The center’s public spaces are slated for a facelift starting this spring, and tenants like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Fogo de Chao — among others — are slated to open up their doors this year.

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New Japanese-inspired store at Fair Oaks Mall offers lifestyle items (courtesy MINISO)

A new store with all items $10 or less has opened at Fair Oaks Mall.

MINISO, a lifestyle product retailer from China, opened a $10 N’ Under store in the mall on April 21. The 3,568-square-foot space sells household goods, cosmetics, food and toys. It’s the second location in Fairfax County and the third in the state overall.

The company opened its first location in the county at Tysons Corner Center in October. It also has a store at Potomac Mills Mall in Woodbridge.

“We are thrilled to open our new store at Fair Oaks Mall, after witnessing Miniso’s enormous popularity among the consumers of Fairfax and Woodbridge, and we want to bring our products, which marry high quality with incredible value, to more consumers,” said Bella Tu, General Manager of Overseas Division at Miniso. “As one of the few variety chain stores at Fair Oaks Mall, MINISO hopes to bring a fun-filled experience of discovery and delight to its shoppers.”

The Japanese-inspired company has more than 5,000 stores around the world. It launched in 2013 under the leadership of Chinese entrepreneur Ye Guofu.

Here’s more from the company’s website on their mission and vision:

“Affordable high quality”, “Joy” and “Lighthearted” are the values at the very heart of the brand. “Affordable high quality” is its permanent goal in terms of product development, as it strives to offer consumers inexpensive and well-designed goods. “Joy” describes customers’ natural response to the open, comfortable shopping experience and fun vibes at MINISO, while “Lighthearted” defines their relaxed and cheerful mood when choosing from the wide range of affordable goods in store.

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A Malibu Barbie truck will visit Tysons this weekend (courtesy Malibu Barbie Tour)

Perhaps lured by yesterday’s 80-degree temperatures, a truck hawking Malibu-themed Barbie swag will swing by Tysons Corner Center on Saturday (April 16), kicking off a four-stop tour through the D.C. area.

The Malibu Barbie Truck Tour will be parked in the mall’s Events Plaza (1961 Chain Bridge Road) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., bringing an array of merchandise paying tribute to the oft-criticized yet still-popular plastic doll from Mattel.

Coming on the heels of a similar visit by the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck, the pop-up Barbie truck will sell beach apparel and accessories designed to evoke the 1970s, though no actual dolls appear to be offered.

According to a press release, available products will include:

  • Barbie-logo embroidered denim jacket
  • Pink Barbie-logo hoodie
  • Tie Dye bucket hat
  • Ringer T-shirt
  • Embroidered patch set
  • Enamel pin set
  • Burlap Shopper Tote
  • Stainless thermal bottle
  • Beach Towel
  • Malibu Barbie Necklace
  • Malibu Barbie Logo Mug

The “2022 Barbie Truck Totally Throwback Malibu Tour” kicked off on the West Coast last year to mark the 50th anniversary of Malibu Barbie’s introduction in 1971.

After hitting up Tysons, the truck will also visit Bethesda on April 30, Pentagon City in Arlington on May 7, and Columbia on May 14.

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Furniture Max in Herndon anticipated supply chain issues and ordered stock well in advance (staff photo by David Taube)

People looking to get items from furniture stores in Fairfax County say employees have told them they may have to wait weeks or months before the stock arrives.

The delays are another symptom of the supply chain disruptions that the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced across the country, affecting industries from vehicles and food to homebuilding materials.

Brian Katz bought thousands dollars worth of furniture for a Labor Day sale in Bailey’s Crossroads, but three months later, he has yet to see the purchased bed frame, sofa with chaise, and other items.

“I am still waiting to receive any piece of furniture in my order,” Katz said in a Nextdoor post to neighbors.

Katz and his wife had been getting by with a makeshift sofa made out of blankets and a bedroll, but when he heard there would still be a delay a few weeks ago, he ordered a cheap futon from Amazon. It’s serving as a stopgap measure.

Delivery delays have been an issue for furniture stores nationwide throughout the past year. The Institute for Supply Management, a nonprofit organization, found furniture and related products had the biggest increase in backlogged orders in June compared to 17 other manufacturing industries.

The biggest uptick in backlogged orders has shifted to apparel, with the furniture sector having the second-most delays of that sort from July through September before scaling back and then no longer experiencing those kinds of extreme upticks as of November, according to stats from the institute.

The American Home Furnishings Alliance, an industry trade association, has attributed the challenges to increased demand for furniture, with more people continuing to work from home, as well as the lag time needed for manufacturers to restart operations after shutting down in March 2020.

In Herndon, Furniture Max higher-ups anticipated issues early in the pandemic, ordering around a year’s worth of furniture in the summer of 2020, said store manager Ali Baderzada. Many of the orders arrived six months later.

“Instead of ordering it monthly, we ordered it all at once,” he said. “We are still…getting those.”

That preparation means the store is now in the position to offer same-day and next-day delivery. Staff say they expanded that service to most in-store items this fall.

With the delays, many people have reported complaints to the Better Business Bureau, which can assist with getting refunds and resolutions. Customers have also shared their experiences on Google reviews.

Baderzada’s store has one BBB complaint, which is marked as resolved, and a Google review rating of 4.9 out of five stars. BBB’s database contains numerous complaints against different furniture chains amid the pandemic, where people say they paid upfront and still waited months after they expected items.

For Furniture Max’s Herndon location, many customer reviews say that, while other places across the region have had limited stock, they’ve been surprised and satisfied with their experiences there.

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