What's clear as Virginia and the nation count down toward a March 1 sequestration deadline is that cuts are real and appear, at the moment, to be coming.
But how the cuts will change the way people do business in Vienna and throughout Northern Virginia is harder to define—and for that reason owners are worried, not just for their own bottom line but for the customers they serve.
"I am concerned, but far more for my customers than for me," said Michael Amouri, who owns local coffee shop Caffe Amouri on Church Street. "Several have talked about their concerns and worries. They have families, and lives, that are being affected."
Thursday, residents and businesses remained frustrated at what they called a lack of leadership in Congress. Residents and business owners "don't care about party politics. They care about feeding their families," Amouri said.
President Barack Obama was in Virginia this week to talk about the impacts of sequester, joining other elected officials in asking residents to reach out to their U.S. congressmen and senators and call for a deal.
In an October 2012 presentation to county officials, George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller projected the cuts would cost Fairfax County 86,000 jobs – 13 percent of total employment – and an 8 percent decrease in gross county product in 2013.
For the town, Vienna spokeswoman Kirstyn Barr said, any impact on the town’s budget should be relatively minimal.
But the Vienna area, and larger region as a whole, is home to large number of government workers, contractors and others who rely on the federal government for work.
For local families, furloughs could mean anything from the loss of a few days every few months, to a day every other week. Aside from how that's expected to impact services, it also trickles down to the amount employees can bring home paycheck to paycheck.
That uncertainty is impacting local businesses, both those that deal with contracts and those that depend on how much consumers are willing to spend on food and entertainment.
“They’re not able to make long term plans," Jim Corcoran, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, told Patch.
Luke Brindley, one of the owners of Jammin' Java on Maple Avenue, is among those who aren't sure how to plan for upcoming shows at the music venue.
"I've talked to a few people who are hesitant about spending 'extra' money until they see what happens," he said, and that makes it hard to predict how well shows will sell out, or if they'll sell well at all.
The worry for small business owners is particularly high. Joey Hernandez, a co-owner of Maple Avenue Restaurant, said the local economy dictates so much of their success: there's no big corporation to back you up during a few rough weeks, or months.
"In terms of it affecting us directly, we of course worry but that's something we do every day," she wrote to Patch. "Sequestration or not small businesses run off a very small margin."
Amouri suggested politiicans should go out and try to understand what cuts would actually mean for residents; it might make the gravity of the situation more real, he said.
"I would ask that our local representatives to Congress as well as our Senators get out of their offices and come by my shop," Amouri said, adding he'd treat them to a drink. "Talk to my customers and hear how their inability to come to compromise hits these folks and affects their lives."
Amouri plans to practice what he preaches.
"I promise that no one will go without their little daily "treat." If anyone comes by and they have been affected, just pull me aside ... we'll take care of them. No one will leave wanting. A lesson for our public officials!" he wrote to Patch.