LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Two Larchmont women, holding open "office hours" on the Starbucks bench on Palmer Avenue and at Turtle Park -- are leading a campaign to revitalize the area's shopping and dining districts and foster a spirit of unity and camaraderie among residents.
What began with conversations among friends, snippets that had been brewing for a while but came to a head when Larchmont's Designer One and Wendy Gee! recently closed, has turned into a full blown odyssey to turn "Love Larchmont" into a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing vibrancy back to the village.
The group's focus, according to Founders Tiffany Smith and Amy Sullivan, is to make Larchmont more of a a cornerstone for the community and a destination for surrounding towns.
"We're not just about servicing the zip code of 10538," explained Smith, who, along with Sullivan, is a stay-at-home mom who has lived in Larchmont eight years. "We want to hear from all the people who pass through here."
The two have already met with the mayor and have formed several committees dedicated to research, urban planning, and shopping strategies.
In the three weeks since their initial email went out asking friends and friends of friends to join them in this quest, they have gotten close to 2,000 responses, most of which are posted on their "Love Larchmont" Facebook page.
They've been contacted by a host of residents -- lawyers, artists, urban planners, etc. -- who are more than excited to throw their expertise into the ring.
"It's been overwhelming," said Smith, "But a good overwhelming."
"People are saying 'thank you' to us for starting the discussion," added Sullivan, "It's really about communication."
For example, the two found out that, contrary to popular belief, it's not simply high rents and "bad" landlords that are shuttering businesses along Palmer and Larchmont Avenues. "When we looked at the rents, we found out they are comparable to other neighboring towns," said Sullivan. (She said they are still researching the "why" behind Larchmont's recent closing of stores.)
"People hear 'Shop Local' but we need to turn that around and tweak that message," said Smith. Case in point: Engaging stores and their customers to use the "#welovelarchmont" and "1??538" on Facebook and Instagram.
And there are more plans in the works, some of which will coincide with Larchmont's 125th anniversary September 26.
"Right now, we have a good momentum," said Smith. "We just have to keep it going."
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