Small-Business Incubator Coming to Fairfax City

Wander In will guide, support and help artisans thrive.

A new, retail incubator store is coming to Old Town Fairfax City. Called Wander In, it’ll be in Fairfax Plaza between Mackenzie’s Tunes & Tonics and The Wine House, at 3950 University Drive, Suite 211.  

This creative venture is a partnership between Fairfax City Economic Development (FCED) and the Old Town Fairfax Business Association (OTFBA). Featuring local makers and entrepreneurs offering a variety of products and art, it’s slated to open this winter.  

“Establishing Wander In as a business incubator in our historic downtown plaza is an important step in building Fairfax City’s small-business retail,” said Mayor Catherine Read. “It’s a path for our local artisans to go from online sales and festival participation to a brick-and-mortar presence. Located in close proximity to a free parking garage and three very busy restaurants with outdoor dining, this multi-vendor retail offers residents and visitors a reason to wander in.”

Via a partnership with Kimco Realty, this curated, retail incubator will provide vendors with the opportunity to establish themselves in a highly visible retail space with low startup costs. By removing the usual high costs of entry into the retail market, the OTFBA and FCED hope to support the development of small-business skills through training and mentorship, with the goal of growing each business there.

GMU’s Small Business Development Center is also a key partner in this project, providing valuable resources and retail business-development training to vendors at Wander In. And if all goes well, it’ll leverage downtown Fairfax itself as a prime destination in Northern Virginia for small businesses and entrepreneurship.

“It is anticipated that Wander In will become a welcome addition to the Old Town Fairfax neighborhood,” said Michelle Smith with FCED. “This collaboration will contribute to the retail environment in Old Town, promote walkable shopping for residents and visitors, and increase the visibility of small businesses within the district.” 

Wander In will also offer “Meet the Maker” events, as well as hands-on classes to provide memorable and creative activities to enhance customers’ shopping experience. OTFBA’s office will also be relocating to the Wander In space, creating a more accessible location for Old Town businesses. 

“Old Town Fairfax is comprised of a neighborhood of small-business owners who provide a diversity of products and services for the City of Fairfax and surrounding areas,” explained OTFBA President Josh Alexander. “The OTFBA looks forward to providing opportunities to educate and foster a retail space for makers, artists and creatives to help them grow and make their dreams a reality.”

Fairfax City Economic Development Director Chris Bruno is excited about Wander In, as well. “We look forward to supporting the activation of prime retail space in the heart of our city,” he said. “We are glad to continue supporting the Old Town Fairfax Business Assn. in its work promoting Old Town as a destination for visitors and shoppers. I would also like to thank our partners at Kimco Realty for supporting this initiative and acknowledging the benefits of a growing, small-business economy.”   

Kim Wheeler, Kimco’s director of specialty leasing is pleased, as well. “Kimco is thrilled to collaborate with the Old Town Fairfax Business Assn. in this exciting venture,” said Wheeler. “By fostering a dynamic space for local businesses and artisans, we can amplify the unique character of Old Town while also strengthening the entrepreneurial spirit that forms the backbone of our communities. We’re proud to be part of an initiative that fosters deeper connections within our community, promotes growth and ensures a lasting local impact."


Businesses wanting to learn more about becoming a vendor at Wander In, or fill out an application for it, may go to for information or follow @wanderinfairfax on Instagram and Facebook.