In the past few decades, Northern Virginia has shifted away from being made up mostly of small, close-knit towns and has transformed into one of the fastest developing regions of the country. Northern Virginia has become a popular spot for tech companies (new and old), bringing jobs, urbanization, and indescribable amounts of traffic. Many smaller businesses have been pushed away in favor of sprawling chains, be it retail or dining. Though there’s much to be gained from this rapid development, many miss the smaller town feeling that used to be present. Luckily, Mosaic District has managed to create an area in the middle of one of the busiest regions of the country that still feels fresh and personal (though still plenty busy). Mosaic District, located about 15-20 minutes (and less than 5 miles) from Room Escape Fairfax started opening stores in 2012 and has since expanded to incorporate more dining facilities, marketplaces, residential areas, community programs, and more.
Even though the actual number of businesses at Mosaic District keeps rising, part of what gives the area its charm is that nearly all of them are locally owned. I may be slightly biased, as I work for the locally owned Room Escape Fairfax, but in my opinion, there’s something much more personal to be found at smaller businesses that you often can’t find in a national chain. Sure, you can often find some version of pretty much anything you need at a big box retailer, but after a certain point, having so many different things to offer prevents them from having any particular focus. Big box stores are jacks of all trades, but masters at none, since the sheer volume of products they offer means you may or may not be getting the best there is to offer. Meanwhile, there’s a shop at Mosaic District that focuses on artisanal paper. Paper Source also offers assorted craft supplies, gift wrap, and stamps, but finding out that a store that focuses on fancy paper can be profitable was a little surprising to the millennial writing this article that has grown up around national retailers and dining options that are the same in Northern Virginia as they are in North Dakota. The local businesses present at Mosaic District include organic marketplaces, a shop with an emphasis in fair-trade products, and a fishmonger, a thing you see so rarely now-a-days that I forgot fishmonger was a word.
I’m talking a lot about the business side of Mosaic District, but it has more to offer. Even beyond the stores open week-round, one of the popular features of of Mosaic District is its weekly farmer’s market. Visit every Sunday (until the winter) to visit dozens of local vendors (including ones with punny names, like Bakefully Yours or Lobster Maine-ia) and to listen to live music or watch demos from professional chefs. Other than the farmer’s market, Mosaic District also features many other community-oriented programs, such as assorted athletic activities, programs for kids, weekly outdoor film screenings, and more.
One of the centerpieces of Mosaic District is the Angelika Film Center, an arthouse cinema. The Angelika Film Center screens a wide variety of films, including the most popular new releases, classics from the last century (count me in for the upcoming screening of Jaws) and independent films. With its own cafe (including craft beverages), extremely comfortable seating, and dozens of special events (including specific screenings for younger audiences so kids aren’t crying for an entire 120 minute movie while you try to pay attention (THANK YOU), the Angelika Film Center is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon or evening (or several of either) with friends or on your own.
So on behalf of local businesses as a concept, I encourage you to visit the Mosaic District (15-20 minutes from Room Escape Fairfax) to support small businesses, get involved in the community, and just generally have an excellent time in an exciting place.