Larchmont’s Palmer Ave. to Lose Another Business
And then there were eight. The Luggage Stop, at 1923 Palmer Avenue for sixteen years, will close its doors this summer.
Owner Toby Roth tells theLoop her lease was coming up and the decision was her own.
"We’ve been losing money for the last two years," Roth said. "People are shopping on the internet. That’s the killer." Roth and her son Marc, who run the small luggage and bag store together, have been a fixture on the Avenue since 1994.
With the closing of The Luggage Stop, there could potentially be eight empty storefronts on the one-block stretch of Palmer Avenue between Chatsworth and Larchmont Avenues. Currently six stores are empty; Michou will soon close to focus on on-line sales. Roth says there is no business that she knows of interested in her space.
With a big sign posted in her window today, many well-wishers stopped in to say goodbye, though Roth says she will stay open another two months.
At Mamaroneck’s Harbor Fest on Sunday there were a few empty storefronts — but every one (I’m pretty sure) had a building permit in the window or a sign about what was going to open in the space.
What is Mamaroneck Village doing that Larchmont isn’t? Is it the red tape at City Hall, as some business owners have suggested? Is it the high rents?
Mamaroneck Village has come a long way in the last few years. I think the turn around began when they buried the wires underground and made the entire business area more attractive. Larchmont Village needs to get its act together.
The stores on Larchmont Avenue are doing ok — only one empty storefront right now. And Auray has great coffee!!
The problem in Larchmont Village is the unreasonably high rents. I looked at space in Larchmont for my business and after calling 3 different numbers, decided to stay in Mamaroneck where the rent is reasonable. FYI, for what I pay now for a storefront in Mamaroneck on Boston Post Rd, I could not get half the space in Larchmont, and I have a parking lot for my customers!
Surprisingly the empty stores are due to the impossibly high rents along that strip. $55 – $65 pf it is almost laughable in this time. Also, the lack of “good business ideas” isnt helping either. In Mamaroneck, the street business climate is more “happening” and “friendlier” than what is going on in Larchmont.
Besides, Mamaroneck is bigger and has better traffic – both foot and car, than Larchmont. Also the storefront rents aren’t as high.
We need some relevant stores, and fast! I’ve heard too many people lately saying how fun it is to eat along Mmk Avenue, or shop the cute main street in Rye. Whoever’s in charge better get the best commercial real estate people and urban planners together right now, ease any ridiculous tenancy restrictions or exorbitant taxes/rents, and get these spaces filled pronto. The more that close, the worse the streets look, and the more undervalued the existing businesses become. Sticking art in a papered-up window isn’t going to cut it – give us some stuff we want to buy in inviting stores, and we’ll be there in a heartbeat.
These are the people who deserve and should have got the ‘bail out’.
I agree with Egrotta that Larchmont and the Town of Mamaroneck have their head up their ass when it comes to civil engineering.
Traffic due to inanely timed lights and confusing lane rules, bad parking and now all these sad storefronts make this an oppressive and depressing place I choose avoid.
I live in Larchmont but do most of my shopping in the Village of Mamaroneck, New Rochelle and Pelham.
God bless you and good luck Toby and Marc.
I find it quite astounding — and depressing — that there are so manyh empty stores around Larchmont now. I think the number must be nearing 20 !
I took a few business trips in the early 1990’s to some of the more depressed agro-industrial centers of the US including Peoria and Moline in Illinois, and the
situation in Larchmont is starting to look alarmingly similar although blessedly we have avoided the plywood /boarded-up look so far.
The Village of Larchmont should pass new laws/ rules enabling it to force landlords to accept Village-sponsored short-term uses of their spaces as long as they are not under lease
to commercial tenants. I’m sure a lot of people in town could develop creative ideas for interesting and perhaps socially-beneficial short-term uses of empty stores in ways
which could also include attention to the ‘visuals.’ The Village could administer the program, and only approve uses which could be easily cleared-out on short notice if/ when landlords find new tenants.
Given the fact that most people are not buying in these stores and do not seem likely to change, how about we amend the laws on these properties and convert the use to, affordable housing.
The store is a loss and Toby and Marc will be a loss of friendly and welcoming faces in the Village. As long as landlords can take all sorts of tax losses or something similar, they have no incentive to reduce rents or “play ball” in anyway, and if they aren’t local, they really don’t care about the Village.
A lot of this is the internet … and a lot isn’t.
It is a real bummer. We moved here, because Larchmont had a bit of a European village feeling, with lots of sweet little shops to browse in. It is not as attractive anymore for residents as well as businesses. Current shop owners who are still in business may decide to leave town and move somewhere else. I agree, something needs to happen ASAP, and more real estate and insurance offices need to be avoided. We need unique boutiques and interesting bars/restaurants! How can this be so difficult in such an affluent, interesting town with people who seem to really want to support the local businesses? Whoever is thinking of opening a business, do it NOW and make it into something that makes us say:”Great stuff, now I don’t need to go to Manhattan or Brooklyn” (or the internet).
Parking is a big issue. People don’t want to shop in Larchmont to shop because there is no place to park. Maybe the local government could do something to help the parking situation. I would hate to see a multi-level garage, but this might be the answer.
I just want to point out (and congratulate) a retailer in the Village of Larchmont that is not only surviving these difficult times but expanding!!! At The Voracious Reader, the store owner is so knowledgeable about books for children and teens, and so community minded, that she has created a value for her shop and product that cannot be undercut by a big box store or the internet. We’re lucky to have this shop in town. I know this sounds basic, but I think retailers need to follow her example and focus on customer service and value in order to survive (and hopefully thrive) in this environment.
1/Landlord should pay taxes even when their store is not rented
2/ more parking lot is not an answer, people please use your bikes and larchmont will become friendlier>
3/ Mamaroneck avenue renewal is satonishing. a large choice of restaurants and affordable stores. I fear that Palmer avenue problem cant be solve. a long and narrow strech that is not convenient.
[quote][i]Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.[/i]
-George Bernard Shaw[/quote]
First we need to change our attitudes. Then we must make major changes in our infrastructure. Our streets and municipalities were developed in a different era. We have space, we have brains and the test will be whether we use them wisely. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
This is about landlords not accepting that the recession is here and no one can pay the ridiculous rates. It’s also about buying local.
I WALKED to town, bought pasta at Villarina, tailoring at Dagostino, bought tools at Foley’s, looked at paint chips at Village Paint and bought a blouse at Designer 1. If you think it costs too much, you are not thinking about what it will cost us in empty storefronts if you are not militant about shopping in town.
This is happening in Rye, the Hamptons, everywhere rents were previously so high. Perhaps the Village can pass a law that makes landlords allow empty window space to be used by existing stores so at least the street is inviting to new business.
Mamk Village and Larchmont Ave have traditionally lower rents, and they are thriving.
NO MORE BANKS OR REAL ESTATE BROKERS!!
Yes, the rents are high. Yes, parking is a problem. Yes, our sidewalk renovation could finally be realized. These are pre-existing conditions and they have been debated in Chamber of Commerce and town meetings for decades.
These are not the reason that out town is looking so desolate. Our town was vibrant when the economy was strong.
Two years ago there wasn’t a parking space on Palmer Ave. It was amusing to watch a Mom balance her latte while talking on her phone and parallel parking in order to hustle her kids from store to store to pick up sneakers and new baseball cleats. It happened every hour. Now there is an abundence of parking on Palmer Avenue on any given week day.
This anecdote illustrates the “old Larchmont” ; I have a client who used to come to Larchmont from Armonk (where there is no charming walking village). She came to Larchmont every three weeks or so to get her boys’ skates sharpened. She used the time while she waited to buy lunch, clothes, baby gifts, and art. She liked the shops so well she brought her friends on Saturdays. She no longer has an excuse to come to Larchmont. There are fewer and fewer reasons for a shopper to make our town a destination. And the remaining businesses feel the impact.
There is economic anxiety at every level.The banks are not lending money to start ups, they are calling loans and revoking lines of credit. Land lords do not want to take a chance on an unproven business. Understandably, they don’t want to assume any risk. Small bussiness are challanged when they have to buy inventory and stay relevant.
It is a bit of a waiting game. When consumer confidence rebounds people wil spend money. Unfortunately, there may be nothing left of our charming little town. Businesses cannot accrue debt year after year. Ask any local merchant, business is down between 30% and 50% from 2007.
And to exacerbate things, summer is around the corner. July and August are perennially sluggish times for business in town. People are vacationing and the shop owners and restaurants always struggle to pay their rent during the summer months.
We all need to take a roll is revitalizing Larchmont. Shop local whenever you can. Splurge a little once in a while. Many merchants are having special promotions and events, support them. Recruit entrepreneurs to have a look at Larchmont. We need fresh new faces. There are creative opportunities in adversity.
The problems are multi dimensional and the solutions are as well. To trot out a well worn phrase, “it takes a village”.
we make a real effort to support local retailers. that said, we’d bet easier to sail thru a sluggish economy — and to thrive in a good one — with customer-friendly return policies, welcoming sales staff, a kid-friendlly vibe where children are supposedly welcome and a keen eye and ear for the new and noteworthy.
First, I think it’s refreshing that so many of you care about Larchmont. It does “take a village.” That’s why there’s a Mamaroneck Schools Foundation, a Fields for Kids, a Larchmont Library fund-raising committee. All of these groups have been very successful in bringing together the community to make improvements where needed on a grassroots level in a timely fashion.
Anybody out there interested in forming a Save Palmer Avenue committee?
I too have been saddened by the closed storefronts on Palmer Avenue and the depressing tone that it has created in our once vibrant community. In April I had a meeting with our new mayor, Josh Mandell. I asked the same questions all of you did here about why Mamaroneck is thriving while Larchmont is not. The problem is threefold:
Zoning – Larchmont is zoned in such a way that retail space must remain retail space and only currently designated restaurant space can become a restaurant. If you want to change the zoning, you have to change it at a state level. This means that we all have to get together as a community and vote on whether this is something that Larchmont wants.
Tax Laws – Landlords pay lower taxes if their space remains un-rented when there is no rent revenue being generated. This removes the incentive for landlords to rent their space quickly and enables them to hold out for the highest renter. This again is a law that should be changed but has to be reformed at the state level with an initial bill at the local level.
Money – As many of you are aware, the Village has initiated the Palmer Streetscapes Project which is currently in the planning stages and should be started as of next year sometime. This is a beautification project which includes building new sidewalks and curbing, as well as putting in more attractive lighting to clean up Palmer Avenue and make it more appealing to prospective renters and shoppers. The guesstimated cost of this project is $1.2 million. About $600,000 of the monies for this project have been obtained through a Department of Transportation grant due to our proximity to Metro North. The remainder of the money for this project will be in the way of a future bond. This will mean raising taxes, a never popular course of action in an already overtaxed community. To bury the ugly power lines underground as they have done in Mamaroneck would cost the Village an estimated $3 million and a bigger bond.
Hey Conrad Andriani! Take a sec to reflect on what this town, whose residents include a preponderance of Wall Street folk or those connected to Wall Street, would look like if there hadn’t been a bailout. Can you see the tumbleweeds? It probably would look like it did in the ’80s, when the biggest store in town was The Seed Store.
Why is Rye’s Purchase Street bouncing back?
I know the main culprit who owns many of these empty storefronts. He just doesn’t get it, and I can’t believe he can keep up his luxurious lifestyle for long…oh yeah, he also lives in the city!
It’s good to know that the threads here can be as good as playing “phone” on FB. JBO, in answering Conrad Andriani, I don’t know where you get this perception that Larchmont in the 80s was a seed store capital. There have always been good restaurants and small upscale stores in Larchmont. I don’t know your age but you seem out of touch. Then you imply that the wall street workers kept us afloat. Well, maybe, because it takes a good chunk of change to live comfortably in this town and I don’t know the demographics of who the floaters are. I do know this, after living here for fifty years, this is still a good town but has drawn a certain mentality that it disjointed from this town’s history, don’t give a damn, and hopefully will come to appreciate where they are or move on.
Wow, if it’s really one guy owning all these empty storefronts, and he just lives in the city, why can’t the Chamber of Commerce (do we even have one?!) and the Town put some pressure on him?! Somebody print his damned name and we’ll get the Journal, maybe even the Times to write this up. Let’s put some public pressure on him. To my mind letting your property lie idle like this is irresponsible. It’s detrimental to the well being of the community he bought into when he purchased the buildings, and should warrant some kind of civil penalty. Ideally, there should be a contingent written into any new law that storefronts can’t remain idle beyond a certain date – that would fix the abominable and embarrassing Tung Hoy situation as well. Aren’t we paying all these Town administrators a decent enough salary that they can turn some of their energies toward drafting changes to these silly zoning laws as outlined here by Michele? Maybe Editrix can get some on-the-record responses to all of our comments here from the folks “in charge”. And not just whiny, throw-up-their-hands-and-feel-our-pain responses, but a real plan of action. Come on, people, we can’t just wait this out.