Their storefronts may be boarded up but business is in full swing for two of the three shops destroyed two weeks ago, when the driver of a pickup truck lost control and smashed into the one story building at 1967 Palmer Ave. in Larchmont.
The accident happened shortly after midnight, June 3, when the truck careened onto the sidewalk, smashing over a park bench and tree before crashing into the front of Beauty Bar Lounge Salon. The crash caused a domino effect of tumbling walls between the row of shops which include Elli Travel Group and Write On stationary store.
Fortunately no one was seriously injured since the accident occurred overnight when the buildings and sidewalks were empty. Police say the driver, a Larchmont resident, suffered only minor injuries.
Larchmont Police say no charges were filed and there is no criminal investigation however they have refused to supply details of the accident, such as speed of the vehicle or age of the driver. Cause of the accident is listed as mechanical failure.
The owners of both Elli Travel Group and the stationery store, Write On!, are feverishly working behind the scenes to keep businesses operating by phone and email although they worry about losing customers who mistakenly assume they are closed.
“I don’t want them (customers) to go elsewhere,” says Write On’s owner, Susie Yamaguchi.
“I’m still taking orders and fulfilling orders. We’re still working.” Yamaguchi says. She wants everyone to know that she is still available and on call to help customers choose and order invitations and announcements.
Summer is the height of the business season for travel. Kristen Fernandez, co-owner of the Elli Travel Group, says the agency’s travel experts continue to work remotely from home or other sites and are successfully managing to take care of immediate details for their clients’ vacations. “We are fully operational from a service perspective.”
Five to six employees usually occupy the office during the day so everyone is grateful that the accident happened during the overnight hours when no one was around, she says. Fernandez describes the damage to business as “a demolition zone in there. There’s fallen plaster and broken glass everywhere.”
Fernandez says she has been desperately trying to secure a temporary headquarters and it hasn’t been easy. Ironically, despite Larchmont’s numerous empty storefronts, Fernandez says it’s been quite a challenge to find a new space. “I have talked to every landlord and management leasing company,” Fernandez says. “Every open space is either already contracted to new tenant or would take 6 months or more to ready for business.”
Cecilia Care, owner of Beauty Bar Lounge salon, is also frantically trying to find a temporary space. “I’ve been trying to find a temporary home, storefront…a good fit for my clients as well. My clients are very understanding. I could do home services but I lost everything – hairdryers, curling irons, flat irons, everything. All that stuff, it’s all lost. Everything’s gone.”
Yet Care, whose salon has received two Best of Westchester awards, is very optimistic. “We will rebuild….we hope that we bounce back stronger and better.”
Construction crews have stabilized the frame of the building with vertical supports and the scaffolding which was erected last week is a hopeful sign that the rebuild and repairs will start soon.
All three business owners, who are all local residents, express their gratitude for community concern and support. “They’ve been wonderful.” Fernandez says. They give special thanks to the Chamber of Commerce.
Yamaguchi says, “We are all forging ahead.”
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