Local fresh food guru Mark S. Ordan hit it big selling organic milk to Rockville soccer moms at Fresh Fields and roasted turkey and brie sandwiches to D.C. office workers at High Noon. But Ordan couldn't crack how to sell Balducci's smokehouse almonds and other high-end nuts to Reston residents: Last week, Ordan announced that Balducci's, which Ordan runs as CEO, would close its Reston store this past Monday.
"This store has long been an under-performer, almost from the time it opened in November of 1996," Ordan wrote in a letter to customers of the store, which formerly was Sutton Place Gourmet. "While store sales have held their own amidst fierce competition, resources that we have poured into the store have not generated a return on investment."
The shuttering at 11860 Spectrum Center came a few days after the gourmet grocer announced the addition of three new Balducci's, in downtown Washington, Annapolis and Rockville.
So why would a market catering to western Fairfax's suburban elite go bust?
Store executives point to fierce competition in the local boutique grocery market, given a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe's within a mile and a half of the Reston store.
Or perhaps Jacques Torres chocolates and Tomme Crayeuse cheese didn't fit the Reston mold.
Last Friday evening, a trickle of customers tried to enter Balducci's around 6:30. A store employee explained the store was closed for the night and that reduced hours would be in effect until Monday.
None of the half dozen customers even asked why the store was closing.
While job growth in other regions of the state lagged, Northern Virginia continues to be a job-producing powerhouse, accounting for 89 percent of new jobs in the state from April 2004 to April 2005, according to recently released numbers from the Virginia Employment Commission.
The Northern Virginia region, including Fairfax County, Arlington, and Alexandria, experienced a 4.3 percent job growth rate, adding 52,400 new jobs. The region now has a total of 1,257,000.
The professional and business services sector, which includes the vibrant federal government contracting workforce, added 14,100 jobs to the local economy over the last year.
Fairfax County will remain host to Web-hosting power player Network Solutions. The company signed a seven-year lease for up to 104,000 square feet at Presidents Park One in the Dulles Corner area.
Network Solutions officials admit that they didn't look far and wide for new office space. Presidents Park One is within sight of the company's current headquarters at One Dulles Tower on Huntmar Park Drive in Herndon.
"[Network Solutions Chairman and CEO] Champ Mitchell was very concerned. He didn't want to increase the commute for employees because employees live in this area," said Susan Wade, a spokeswoman for the company.
The Greater Washington Board of Trade is beefing up its Northern Virginia bona fides: Nancy Reed, who is currently vice president of government affairs for the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, will soon join the board to strengthen its lobbying muscle with Northern Virginia elected officials.
"She is so well respected in Virginia. For us it is an opportunity to take the best government relations person in the chamber business and have her work in the whole Northern Virginia area," said Robert Peck, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.
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