Editor’s picks: The best of BizSense in 2021

Here’s a year-end roundup that’s always enjoyable to compile: a list of BizSense’s best from the last 12 months.

These include our best reporting, best writing, best photography, most quotable characters and headlines that rose above the rest.

Special thanks to the hard-working BizSense reporting crew for always digging, always grinding on a daily deadline and keeping valuable news flowing each day for our loyal readers.

And loads of gratitude to those loyal readers, tens of thousands of whom visit our site every day. We thank you for making our news part of your daily routine.

Cheers, to a great year and another to come.

Now here’s the list…


Steel rolling: Kinsley makes its mark on old Williams Bridge Co. building

This story had it all from top to bottom: a great headline, great photographs and great writing that captured a day in the life of the folks making steel and breathing new life into the sprawling old building.


Cannabis dispensary taking over former Short Pump KFC

We waited anxiously to see where the region’s first standalone marijuana retail dispensary would land. The fact that it ended up in an old KFC in Short Pump was a gift from the news gods. We did our best to make sure BizSense readers got it first and to have a memorable first line of the story to grab the reader’s attention.


Seminary’s 1800s-era ‘Westwood’ house demolished in Northside

One of our most commented-on stories of the year, this one was spotted on a reporter’s daily commute. It’s worth a re-read of both the story and the comments section. Few topics get Richmonders going like the demolition of an old building.


Burgerim franchisee looks to recoup losses by opening Fatburger stores

This is a fascinating story that kind of flew under the radar during the summer. It’s a tale that shows the darker side of franchising and an entrepreneur trying to make the best of a bad situation.


Hotel assessments slashed in Henrico, Chesterfield due to pandemic

A numbers-heavy, pandemic-era story that hopefully is a one-off. We dug through real estate assessments on hotel properties, which are based in many localities on the revenue generated by the hotels themselves. The numbers give a side of the story that most hoteliers hadn’t been willing to discuss.


‘Tremendous fall from grace’: Matson asks for 37-month prison sentence

It’s been said that pound for pound Richmond has more than its fair share of high-profile white collar crime sagas. The tale of Bruce Matson was one of those and this story leading up to his sentencing showed how there’s two sides to every scandal. As the judge put it before sending Matson to federal prison: “Here’s something I’ve learned in 11 years on the bench: Everybody has two sides.”


Local restaurants hungry for workers dishing out higher pay, better benefits

For most of the year not a day went by that we didn’t hear about the trouble certain businesses were having in hiring and keeping enough workers. The problem was especially tricky for local restaurateurs, who graciously shared with us all the tricks they were trying out.


Smooth sailing for marina owner with suit settled and Lilly Pad blooming

Reading this story makes one feel like they’re seeing in real time as Max Walraven becomes the king of the new wave of Richmond’s riverfront and yachting social scene. It also gives you the sense that there’s more to come from Walraven and others along the water.

Kingsland Marina kickstarting boat rental business

Eck family lists 158 properties in the Fan as it exits real estate market

This was a sneaky big scoop that took some diligent digging through property records to show how big of a swath of the Fan was set to change hands as Richmond’s Eck family unloaded its real estate holdings.


Medical marijuana operators reflect on industry’s first 12 months in Virginia

Watching an industry emerge from scratch is a rare treat for a business reporter and that’s just what the marijuana beat has given us over the last year. This story looked to take a statewide pulse check by talking to all the major players in the commonwealth.


Avail Vapor’s stores go up in smoke amid haze of FDA red tape

Also smoke-related, this was quietly a big scoop about the demise of a once-fast-growing local chain of vape shops that, for a time, was among the region’s most successful recent retail exports.


Neighboring businesses at odds over Brookland Park parklet

You never can tell what will get Richmonders feuding. In this case it was a parklet – a term no one had heard of prior to the pandemic – and it caused a rift between one business owner who was looking to add some visibility and outdoor seating in front of her shop in Brookland Park and her neighbors.


Entrepreneur tales: A roundup of quotable small business owners

Longtime employee-turned owner cleaning up with Flagstop Car Wash

Used Land Rover Defender importer shifts into Scott’s Addition

New Kent cornhole company bags eastern Henrico warehouse for $6.7M

Richmond entrepreneur cracks open a new beer cooler insulation company


Memorable headlines from 2021:

Hostel takeover: Monroe Ward building sells for $1.8 million

Calling all pinball wizards: Altamont Avenue arcades opening

Pastor-turned-pitmaster finds room for Redemption near Short Pump

Fan’s Cocky Rooster owner feeling confident about Short Pump expansion

Entrepreneurs opening board game cafe aren’t playing around


Photos of the year (slideshow)

Here’s a year-end roundup that’s always enjoyable to compile: a list of BizSense’s best from the last 12 months.

These include our best reporting, best writing, best photography, most quotable characters and headlines that rose above the rest.

Special thanks to the hard-working BizSense reporting crew for always digging, always grinding on a daily deadline and keeping valuable news flowing each day for our loyal readers.

And loads of gratitude to those loyal readers, tens of thousands of whom visit our site every day. We thank you for making our news part of your daily routine.

Cheers, to a great year and another to come.

Now here’s the list…


Steel rolling: Kinsley makes its mark on old Williams Bridge Co. building

This story had it all from top to bottom: a great headline, great photographs and great writing that captured a day in the life of the folks making steel and breathing new life into the sprawling old building.


Cannabis dispensary taking over former Short Pump KFC

We waited anxiously to see where the region’s first standalone marijuana retail dispensary would land. The fact that it ended up in an old KFC in Short Pump was a gift from the news gods. We did our best to make sure BizSense readers got it first and to have a memorable first line of the story to grab the reader’s attention.


Seminary’s 1800s-era ‘Westwood’ house demolished in Northside

One of our most commented-on stories of the year, this one was spotted on a reporter’s daily commute. It’s worth a re-read of both the story and the comments section. Few topics get Richmonders going like the demolition of an old building.


Burgerim franchisee looks to recoup losses by opening Fatburger stores

This is a fascinating story that kind of flew under the radar during the summer. It’s a tale that shows the darker side of franchising and an entrepreneur trying to make the best of a bad situation.


Hotel assessments slashed in Henrico, Chesterfield due to pandemic

A numbers-heavy, pandemic-era story that hopefully is a one-off. We dug through real estate assessments on hotel properties, which are based in many localities on the revenue generated by the hotels themselves. The numbers give a side of the story that most hoteliers hadn’t been willing to discuss.


‘Tremendous fall from grace’: Matson asks for 37-month prison sentence

It’s been said that pound for pound Richmond has more than its fair share of high-profile white collar crime sagas. The tale of Bruce Matson was one of those and this story leading up to his sentencing showed how there’s two sides to every scandal. As the judge put it before sending Matson to federal prison: “Here’s something I’ve learned in 11 years on the bench: Everybody has two sides.”


Local restaurants hungry for workers dishing out higher pay, better benefits

For most of the year not a day went by that we didn’t hear about the trouble certain businesses were having in hiring and keeping enough workers. The problem was especially tricky for local restaurateurs, who graciously shared with us all the tricks they were trying out.


Smooth sailing for marina owner with suit settled and Lilly Pad blooming

Reading this story makes one feel like they’re seeing in real time as Max Walraven becomes the king of the new wave of Richmond’s riverfront and yachting social scene. It also gives you the sense that there’s more to come from Walraven and others along the water.

Kingsland Marina kickstarting boat rental business

Eck family lists 158 properties in the Fan as it exits real estate market

This was a sneaky big scoop that took some diligent digging through property records to show how big of a swath of the Fan was set to change hands as Richmond’s Eck family unloaded its real estate holdings.


Medical marijuana operators reflect on industry’s first 12 months in Virginia

Watching an industry emerge from scratch is a rare treat for a business reporter and that’s just what the marijuana beat has given us over the last year. This story looked to take a statewide pulse check by talking to all the major players in the commonwealth.


Avail Vapor’s stores go up in smoke amid haze of FDA red tape

Also smoke-related, this was quietly a big scoop about the demise of a once-fast-growing local chain of vape shops that, for a time, was among the region’s most successful recent retail exports.


Neighboring businesses at odds over Brookland Park parklet

You never can tell what will get Richmonders feuding. In this case it was a parklet – a term no one had heard of prior to the pandemic – and it caused a rift between one business owner who was looking to add some visibility and outdoor seating in front of her shop in Brookland Park and her neighbors.


Entrepreneur tales: A roundup of quotable small business owners

Longtime employee-turned owner cleaning up with Flagstop Car Wash

Used Land Rover Defender importer shifts into Scott’s Addition

New Kent cornhole company bags eastern Henrico warehouse for $6.7M

Richmond entrepreneur cracks open a new beer cooler insulation company


Memorable headlines from 2021:

Hostel takeover: Monroe Ward building sells for $1.8 million

Calling all pinball wizards: Altamont Avenue arcades opening

Pastor-turned-pitmaster finds room for Redemption near Short Pump

Fan’s Cocky Rooster owner feeling confident about Short Pump expansion

Entrepreneurs opening board game cafe aren’t playing around


Photos of the year (slideshow)

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