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Larchmont: From Gloom to Optimism

In partnership with LMC Media. 

The owner of a high-end custom tailor shop in upscale Larchmont, Mancino’s , says he’s stunned. After his worst winter on record, customers are back like never before. Tony Mancino says he’s gone from drought to deluge in a matter of weeks. (continues below)

“This is like much better, much, much better and I’ve been here 35 years,” he told us recently, “and I’ve never seen it that bad like last year, but the last couple of months, month-and-a-half it’s improved a lot a LOT. I see traffic like, unbelievable.”

We saw it too as customers stood in line to make pick-ups of shirts and suits. Mancino believes it’s the economy at work, the delayed formal gatherings now rescheduled and the return of business to the office that’s fueling the surge in business.

Other merchants are actually crediting the pandemic shutdown for forcing them to find customers on line without waiting for walk-ins. Gina Wallach, of Wallach’s Jewelers, says the work she did during lockdown continues to pay off as walk-in customers return. “We developed all these new ways of dealing with our customer base, all these new tools, and now that everything is open again we seem to be using them and it’s putting us in a better place.”

What we have here is not a return to normal so much as the emergence of a subtly altered reality because the pandemic has changed a lot of things we are only beginning now to understand. For instance, diners now used to eating outdoors even when the weather isn’t perfect. And increased outdoor dining means increased street traffic and increased street traffic means more business.

Julia Romanello at Palmer Jewelers says the street-side dining has created a festive atmosphere on the sidewalk that wasn’t there before. “It’s been very busy,” she said “There’s been kids running out getting ice cream; it’s definitely fun over here.” Traffic, she says is definitely picking up.

Carey Federspeil at the Larchmont Chamber of Commerce thinks a lot of the outdoor dining installed during the pandemic may be with us to stay. “I can’t see how we could roll this back,” she said looking to the newly built wooden dining deck on Larchmont Avenue. “Everybody loves it.”

 The Village, though, will clearly have to evaluate whether it can spare all the displaced parking spaces even as new parking meters are activated to ration what remains. Paid parking in the village began June 1.

As for the over health of street commerce in Larchmont: Village figures provided by the Mayor’s Office put the commercial vacancy rate at 6%, precisely what it was two years ago. Mayor Lorraine Walsh says Larchmont lost eleven businesses in the period straddling the pandemic shutdown, but notes 16 businesses have opened up.

Retracing the path the Loop took during our story last year we note that the former Wells Fargo Bank branch at Larchmont & Palmer Avenues is now home to a an office sharing space, The Idea Kitchen, and a candy store that went under has now been replaced by a home decor store, The Velvet Maple.  

Where we saw a bit of gloom in the air back in 2019, now there is outright optimism. Carey Federspeil echoes a number of merchants we spoke with, “I think we are better now than we were going in to the pandemic.”

Imagine that.

 

photo: Don Henderson

 

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