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Spring Surprises for Seniors Pop Up All Over

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Sorting through closets or drawers often produces an “ah ha” moment when you come across a forgotten item and realize that it’s just what you need. The perfect scarf to accent a plain dress, a little brush for cleaning the tile grout, the long shoehorn you thought you’d never need, but do.
Communities also have overlooked or forgotten treasures. Recently, a Reston resident expressed surprise at mention of the postal substation at Lake Anne. She’s lived here for several years, visits Lake Anne regularly, but had never discovered this gem at the back of Lakeside Drugstore.
Not just a postage meter and stamps, it offers priority services, padded mailers and boxes always accompanied by a cheery greeting and smile. The drugstore sells some attractive gift items and an array of cards perfect for taking care of a forgotten anniversary or birthday all at one stop.
And, when a more specifically Reston-oriented gift is appropriate, next door the Reston Museum shop offers a wide selection of T-shirts and sweatshirts with Reston logos, sports towels and lap comforters, and, of course, mugs, posters and scenic postcards.
There is also a consignment area with artistic pieces of pottery, unusual wooden boxes, photographs and prints. It’s an interesting place to visit even if you aren’t in the market for a gift. The shop is open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Proceeds help support the work of the museum, officially Reston Historic Trust, which conducts a series of walks and programs, including the Reston House Tour in October, and sponsors oral histories and memoir writing classes. Visit www.restonmuseum.org.
A group “ah ha” moment occurred recently when Dee Cotton, one of the founding members and president of Reston’s Useful Service Exchange spoke at an AARP meeting.
Several audience members suddenly remembered that they had been, or in some cases still were, members, but had overlooked this resource when it came to needing a pet sitter, help with a party, computer assistance, gardening advice or one of the numerous other services that neighbors can provide. That even includes members willing to loan various appliances, tools and other equipment.
No payments are involved because services are traded for credits, which members earn by providing services of their own to other members. Membership is a mere $5 a year. An application form is available by calling 703-742-8164 or visiting www.use.restonweb.com.
An Older America’s Month observation sounds more “ho hum” than “ah ha,” but not when it’s a Spanish Fiesta with live band music by Latin Soul, dancing with Salsa Fuega, and a buffet of Latin foods, plus various health screenings and exhibits Thursday, May 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Reston Community Center.
The event is co-sponsored by the Reston Hospital Center and the Reston Association Senior Advisory Committee and is free. Registration is required. Call RCC 703-476-4500 or visit www.restoncommunitycenter.com.
Ever since it opened last summer, the Herndon Harbor Senior Center has been coming up with surprises­especially ones designed to help seniors be more active. Now it’s collaborating with the Active for Life Center of the National Capital Region to offer a 14-session program to help less physically active adults incorporate 5, 10 and 15 minute doses of moderately intensive physical activity into their regular daily routine.
This behaviorally-focused program is free but participants must be at least 50 years old. There is no age maximum but some other qualifications apply. For more information and pre-screening call the Active for Life Center at 703-807-5855.
Gardens are wonderful this time of year, but private ones are often hidden. The Reston Garden Tour is a great way to get ideas for your own garden, or just to enjoy the flowers without the work.
A dozen beautiful gardens in the Reston area will be featured, including a wonderful selection of townhouse and single-family shade gardens, as well as several lovely ones for sunny locations. It will be held Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. co-sponsored by the Reston Association and the Reston Garden Club. All proceeds from ticket sales go to the Friends of Reston for the Nature House.
Tickets are $20 and go on sale in May at Reston Association, The Bird Feeder Store, and The Reston Museum. Visit www.restongardenclub.org or reston.org.
My intent in writing this column was to help readers find community surprises and unexpected pleasures. In doing so, I cleared off enough papers to have an “ah ha” moment of my own. That’s where the cat’s comb has been hiding!

How Small Firms Can Win Big

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In the last few years, the global consulting firms have had a mixed ride. Client litigation, strategic missteps, regulatory constraints, and firm spin-offs sent “newco” firms into a tight market in search of the next mega-client.

The big firms are leaner, but many have familiar handicaps: top-heavy organizational structure, burdensome overhead, high rates, and reluctance to pay top people the premium they deserve for enduring the consulting lifestyle.

Refugees from the big firms have spread into the industry, forming their own firms and joining others to take on Goliath. Except for clients who are joined at the hip with large firms, in many cases, small firms are winning.

The fact is that clients aren’t defaulting to the big-name firms like they used to, and many of the blue-chip brands are competing for work against tough, smaller firms.

Clients are looking for results, and they don’t care where those results come from. If a small firm offers a better, more experienced team at a lower cost, clients will take it. A past relationship with a big-time firm won’t sway the buying decision like it did in the past.

This is a golden time for smaller firms, but only if their marketing is on target and their people are superb.

Realizing this, the big firms are using their deep pockets to upgrade talent and bring focused services to clients, as they continue to pitch the one-stop-shop advantage. Reading firms’ public declarations confirms that the big firms will also continue to push hard into the middle market.

Even so, the narrow, problem-focused small consultancy can grab a fair share of the work from the giants by bringing talent, solutions, a track record, and a reasonable rate structure.

This battle is far from over.