Though “For Rent” signs continue to abound along Fifth Avenue, businesses are optimistic that a new shopping campaign could potentially revive Pelham’s sleepy downtown.
The 3/50 Project, an initiative that encourages employed locals to spend just $50 a month at three independently owned stores, could potentially have far-reaching effects for businesses here. For every $100 spent locally, $68 gets poured directly back into the economy via taxes, payroll and other expenditures, according to the project’s founders. When Christine Farahat, owner of , found out about the project, she shared the concept with her neighboring merchants, who have also struggled during the economic downturn, before bringing it before the Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s a campaign that’s teaching the community...to keep your downtown alive,” Farahat remarked.
While merchants haven’t yet given up on Pelham, they have some ideas as to why this community hasn’t thrived the way neighboring Scarsdale, Bronxville and Larchmont have. Some suspect that because it lacks an anchor store—a Sephora or a Papyrus—could be the reason why fewer customers, and shops, are drawn to the area. Others have suggested that the rent is too high, and some think that residents simply grew accustomed to seeing empty storefronts after a series of landslides forced storeowners out.
Whatever the cause for the lull has been, local merchants are determined to breathe life into a downtown that they believe has the potential to be just as bustling, and profitable, as its neighboring towns.
“There’s a living, breathing, working community here,” said Tanya Scott, owner of the . “Why wouldn’t they come down here? We have the people. They’re not coming down, because there’s no reason to come down.”
Scott is a firm believer that Pelham desperately needs an anchor store to reel in the foot traffic. So much so, that she’s gone so far as to contact Sephora and Papyrus herself to find out how the town can secure a retail business with an eye-catching presence.
“People like familiarity,” Scott noted. “The [on Pelham Post Road], come hell or high water, is packed all the time. They’re going to pull over. If you haven’t been to the Powder Room, you don’t know who we are. If you see a recognizable store, you might pop in.”
While opening up a major chain might be the solution, the red tape involved in pursuing such a venture will preclude it from serving as immediate elixir.
Farahat suggested a less complicated solution. She urges locals to request the products they’re seeking elsewhere.
“If you don’t see what you want in the stores that are here, ask for it,” Farahat encouraged. “Many of us are totally open to bringing on board things that maybe we don’t know [customers] are looking for.
In the meantime, the Powder Room, and Gracious Living are banding together to usher the 3/50 Project into Pelham in an effort to motivate locals to spend their money here.
“I’m optimistic about the campaign,” Farahat offered. “The community should realize that we’re here to serve them, to give the best customer service. We really do care about the community.”