Amazon’s second headquarters is not only about office buildings for the company’s employees in Arlington, Virginia. The development will also help create a vibrant neighborhood by supporting local businesses with plenty of street-level retail space.
“Amazon growing in the National Landing neighborhood provides a great anchor to be able to support new local businesses within the community and those that have been around for a while,” said Kate Bates, president and CEO of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.
As Amazon continues to build out its second headquarters, the company is also helping the growth of local businesses from surrounding areas in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Amazon is working to fill at least 140,000 square feet of open-to-the-public retail space between Metropolitan Park and PenPlace, which together will make up HQ2.
“Our goal is to prioritize small, local, minority- and women-owned retailers for the ground floors of our office buildings and in unique retail pavilions throughout the HQ2 site,” said Joe Chapman, director of Amazon Global Real Estate and Facilities. “We want to help create an 18-hour district that people want to drive to, not just drive through, and the businesses we attract to this neighborhood will be a big piece of that. We can’t wait for the entire community to get to enjoy these new additions.”
The first two retailers to sign leases at Metropolitan Park, which is the first phase of Amazon’s development, are District Dogs, founded by a community-grounded entrepreneur, and RĀKO Coffee, owned by two sisters who have also focused locally.
“We’re excited to be part of this project because it's going to give us a platform we never had before. It would've been so easy for Amazon to bring in big national brands, but it means everything to us that Amazon is seeking out small, emerging businesses that wouldn't have normally had this exposure.”
Jacob Hensley is the owner and founder of District Dogs, a full-service pet care company that offers overnight boarding, dog daycare, grooming, training, and in-home pet-training services. Hensley started District Dogs in 2014, as a dog walking business. By 2016 he was able to open his first daycare. He now has more than 70 staff members working across multiple locations in and around Washington, D.C.
“One of the things I'm most proud of is providing careers for my staff,” he said. “Seeing some of my staff members buy their first home with their District Dogs paycheck is really important to me, and as I grow the business, I want to keep providing opportunities for my team to advance.”
Hensley said that when he first heard Amazon was coming to the area, he immediately knew it would bring a lot of energy and opportunity to the region. Hensley’s new space—which will mark his sixth location—will be at the base of one of the Metropolitan Park office buildings. His outpost will be over 6,000 square feet and offer opportunities for dog training, canine enrichment activities, and events to help local dog owners connect with a community of fellow pet lovers in the National Landing neighborhood.
“For small businesses like me, opening a new store in Northern Virginia is a huge opportunity to grow the brand and capture new clients,” he said. “We believe we provide some of the best pet care in the area and are excited to partner with local businesses in Arlington, other businesses coming to National Landing, and to help create a community for everyone to enjoy.”
Lisa and Melissa Gerben, sisters who co-founded and co-own RĀKO Coffee, are equally excited to bring their day-to-night concept café to the neighboring community of Crystal City. As one of the few women-owned coffee companies in the United States, the business was originally inspired by a family trip to Guatemala.
The name of the company, Lisa Gerben said, was inspired after encountering Rako Mountain—whose name translates to “challenge”—while on a sourcing trip in the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. The brand’s name underscores its mission to create elevated and exceptional coffees while giving back to the communities it touches, both locally and globally.
“We’re excited to be part of this project because it's going to give us a platform we never had before,” she said. “It would've been so easy for Amazon to bring in big national brands, but it means everything to us that Amazon is seeking out small, emerging businesses that wouldn't have normally had this exposure.”
RĀKO Coffee is a specialty coffee business that roasts coffee in Northern Virginia. The sisters opened their first café just a few miles away from HQ2, and they specialize in expertly crafted espresso drinks, such as a baklava latte and volcanic black salt vanilla latte. They hope their customers start and end their day at RĀKO. The new location at HQ2 will feature espresso beverages, a natural wine program from women winemakers, owners, and growers, craft cocktails, and light fares. RĀKO will also operate a 250-square-foot lobby kiosk open to Metropolitan Park.
“Amazon is tapping into so much passion and so much creativity within our local small businesses, and I'm just excited about all of us coming together,” Lisa Gerben said.
“Local businesses are the lifeblood of a community,” said Matt de Ferranti, who chairs the Arlington County Board. “Having these local small businesses in National Landing is going to help bring even more life to the neighborhood.”
“I'm so excited to welcome these first two new retailers to our district because they are adding vibrancy to our community,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president and executive director of the National Landing Business Improvement District. “I can’t wait to help cultivate even more entrepreneurs—especially women and BIPOC business owners.”
Amazon continues to seek local, small businesses throughout the region to bring their goods and services to the dedicated retail space within HQ2. Local businesses looking for more information about HQ2 and beyond can email Amazon’s Global Real Estate and Facilities team at firstname.lastname@example.org.