The deterioration has been gradual but is starkly evident to residents who leave Larchmont for months at a time and return to see the Village with a fresh eye.
A neighbor who lives here only part of the year recently said he was shocked on his return at the emptiness of the village commercial district along Palmer Avenue between Chatsworth Ave. and the New Rochelle line.
“Last year I counted 14 empty businesses,” he told the Loop. “This year during a walk from the PDQ Mail Store to Larchmont Tavern I counted 22. That’s a lot. It’s tragic.”
We took the walk with him on Friday and were startled at what’s been in plain site all along: Parking spaces are occupied, but the sidewalks are empty and we passed multiple empty storefronts, deciding to stop in on one that was still occupied.
“There’s no more downtown mentality,” said Gina Wallach the co-owner of Wallach’s Jewelry, a fixture in this fading commercial landscape. “People might come into town for a cup of coffee but they don’t shop.”
She said she hoped new apartments planned in the village might attract residents who are less married to their cars and home delivery services but isn’t overly optimistic.
“We’ve been here 22 years,” she said “We watched it go from a vibrant walking community to tumbleweeds blowing down the street. It’s dying.”
Larchmont, of course, doesn’t actually have tumbleweeds but if it did, there would be room for them to roll along Palmer Avenue.
Experts tell us retail delivery services like Amazon make opening a brick-and-mortar store less attractive every day. Larchmont residents seem to love the price and convenience of the on-line service. “Some even buy their toilet paper on line,” Wallach observed.
Larry Rumble, the rambling part-time resident who took us on the empty-store tour, said “My impression is the commercial district is languishing. I see this during my walk and I get back to my apartment building and the entrance is clogged with deliveries. Something is clearly happening and it’s not good.”
Has anyone done a study on kind of retail choices would residents want? The shopping experience is definitely being disrupted but it doesn’t mean there’s no room for retail. I think people still like to touch, feel and try on certain things… we just ask our congress people or even the village authorities to help us do that
The Larchmont we knew is never coming back.
Unless something is too expensive to ship (concrete), requires ones presence (a tailored suit), as is an emergent item (a tourniquet) we are going to buy it online.
If I need thumbtacks I am not going to drive into town and buzz around looking for parking. Even if I am willing to do that I will not get the pricing, choices, and reviews that I can get online. With Amazon Prime I can have that item next day.
I recently had an iPhone hand delivered by Apple for a nominal fee. Much better than spending a day home waiting for a “signature required” delivery.
Wait till the drones show up and they deliver items to you kitchen counter via the chimney!
In short: If you want me to come to town offer me something I really can’t get elsewhere.
Incidentally – do you know that Sal’s ships pizza, pizza for God’s sake, all over the country?
Another factor is the increasing number of executive/professional woman in the community. They simply don’t have the time to drop into town to see what’s available. They buy online during their commute or while at work.
The world is obviously a rapidly changing place and the relationship between retail sites and the communities they serve is inevitably going to change too.
We need to dispense with the romantic notion that somehow we can make Larchmont like it was “back in the day” and begin to grapple with how to make the most of Larchmont’s “real world” potential.
BTW – I grew up here and have very fond memories of wandering “town” in the early fifties-sixties.
I’d love to see Larchmont regain that vibrance but I don’t think it’s going to happen.
People who shop on Amazon “can’t afford to live here?” What kind of an arrogant, elitist comment is that?
We are not a commuter town, we are a community. I’ve lived here for 28 years, raised 3 children here and am distressed at the empty storefronts. I used to buy all of my children’s clothing at the eclectic array of stores that once existed. I bought many a gift at Wendy Gees, I bought my children shoes on Palmer Ave, we walked to the movies, and dinner all the time. The charm of Larchmont is not just the lovely homes and trees and proximity to the Sound, and NYC, it’s about being a neighborhood. A neighborhood includes shops. Support your neighborhood- if you’re trying to save money on Amazon then you can’t afford to live here!
It’s so interesting to read all these comments. We saw the empty stores last year, when deciding which of the towns along the New Haven line to settle in. New Rochelle’s downtown seemed more alive, with more useful shops, and that really appealed to us. We wanted to live in a place where every we needed was within walking or biking distance: groceries, picture framer, dry cleaner, wine store, flower shop, library, pharmacy, a couple of interesting non-chain restaurants. It’s so nice to have found a place like that in Westcherster, of all places, where everyone told us we’d need a car to survive! But… I’m very worried about all those empty storefronts in New Rochelle. Are the landlords holding out for big corporate tenants? How can so many stores be sitting empty in a place that is so densely populated and where there is so much new construction? Is that’s what’s happened in Larchmont?
Truth is Larchmont is a commuter town and NYC is always going to have more shopping choices where our residents are every day – plus Amazon et al. We can’t compete w the City by becoming more urban or we will lose what we love about Larchmont. We don’t need more stores – they are empty for a reason.
Former resident here. Larchmont native. Very tragic to see all the empty buildings as I drove around town the other weekend. In Rye you have youngsters all over the downtown area buzzing about. We used to hang out in town as kids too. Why aren’t the Larchmont kiddies downtown spending their parents money in the stores? That will revitalize the local economy. Don’t spend your money at Starbucks though. It’s a big part of the problem just like Amazon.
When one sees the vibrancy of the shopping ethos in Rye and Bronxville one realizes that Larchmont’s elected officials can’t fall back on the online retail order culture as the culprit for what has been going on in the Village of Larchmont. Has the mayor of Larchmont or our state assembly person tried anything to incentivize landlords to open their spaces to retail? If not, why?
If there is no reason to shop in town, and landlords are not penalized for empty store fronts, there will be no street traffic/shopping in town. This seems like an obvious outcome. Sad, but obvious.
And what’s with the goofy pop-up add when this website opens?
“Thank you Larchmont for you support of Centro”. Huh?… Is that a joke?
Larchmont absolutely does NOT “support” Centro. The only people who support this asinine attempt to “revitalize downtown” are the developers and the landlord looking to make out on the backs of a tough situation here in the Village. Neither of which, will ever have to walk by this ugly piece of crap on a daily basis like we will.
This ad conforms to our advertising policy. For what it’s worth, we reached out to neighbors in our community on the other side of this issue and offered them an opportunity to put their perspective forward and they declined.
I just moved back to the area after a decade+ and I’m saddened really to see ALL of the empty storefronts. I think the first to go might’ve been the sports store on Palmer that was next to the Five and Dime. But it has spread like wildfire since then. I had no idea landlords are able to evade taxes simply by keeping them empty though–WOW really where is the incentive to fill them? I know buying online is some of the problem but really if there’s only one or two stores here why shop amongst the vacancies? This seems like it’s part of the problem and a detriment to those shops that are trying to still make a go of it.
You said “landlords are able to evade taxes simply by keeping them empty”. Please explain how this is done.