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Pelham Merchants Trying to Slow Downtown Decline

PELHAM, N.Y. – Christine Farahat is both the secretary of the Pelham Chamber of Commerce and - until Monday - the owner of Gracious Living Design Studio on Fifth Avenue. Farahat will be out of her store by the end of the month and plans for Monday to be her last day of business. She toyed with the idea of relocating to another part of town but instead decided to focus on her Larchmont location. "I'm just going to concentrate over there, build there," Farahat said. "I'm not going to make any decisions right now." Gracious Living Design Studio is one of a handful of stores on Fifth Avenue that have closed or will close in the coming months. The neighboring store, The Powderoom..., also closed recently. Some Fifth Avenue merchants, including Farahat herself, see this as the result of a disturbing trend in Pelham. They said residents are heading for other towns to shop rather than supporting the stores in their own town. And Farahat said that, to an extent, she can't blame them. "There's not enough draw here to bring them down to this area," Farahat said. Ashlin Cooke, owner of Pelham Pet Shop, said that she has a number of clients who make the effort to shop in her store. But she said that parking sometimes deters shoppers. "It's frustrating to have a client leave because their meter is about to expire," Cooke said. Cooke has lived in Pelham for more than 25 years and said this decline has been steadily happening for that entire time. She also said it is not specific to Pelham. Some Pelham residents posted on The Daily Pelham Facebook page about downtown. Jackie Miller wrote that she shops in Pelham when possible but goes to Bronxville as well.

Michelle Boyle also said she travels around the county to save money. "There is not such great shopping in Pelham," Boyle said. "We get in the car and shop all over Westchester. There are a variety of stores and we also get good bargains."

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