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Spring in the Offing

Power tool retailer celebrates season.

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Andrew Mallon, chainsaw sculptor

— On the day before spring arrived this year, a stubborn bank of snow signaled the “pre-season” event held at Virginia Outdoor Power Equipment Co.

For 15 years, the company has held an open house at the store and shop on Lee Highway at Merrifield, nearby the Regional Post Office. Staff welcomes all comers, both homeowners and commercial operators. However, mid-week timing especially attracts professionals in lawn keeping, gardening and landscaping businesses. Noting the light rain and chilly air, General Manager Rick Thomas said, “Bad weather is not that bad for our open house. If warm and sunny, customers and guests would be hard at work and could not attend.”

The centerpiece of open house is the covey of factory representatives of power tool manufacturers. Every big name is present. Tradesmen who use the machines are able to ask questions and see new models and, thereby, increase efficiency — and profits.

Homeowners are content with their questions. Secondary attractions are door prizes and “free eats off the grill.”

One exhibit stands apart but never fails to attract with its whining chainsaw sound. Andrew Mallon is a carpenter “in real life.” With the saw dancing across a block of wood, he becomes an artist and owner of Potomac Tree Sculptures. Surrounded by samples of eagles in flight and other animal forms, an observer can watch a bear emerge from a log through the rhythmic sway of Mallon’s arms.

Questions and answers, food, prizes and art aside, one fact cannot be escaped: There is a lot of work in the season immediately ahead. Power tools can make some of it easier.