Almost all of the stores and shops on Larchmont are now closed in compliance with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Safer-At-Home order, issued last week (Thursday, March 19, 2020). The order closed all clothing and retail stores (and other “non-essential” businesses until April 19, 2020. This follows Garcetti’s March 15, 2020 order closing all bars and dine-in restaurants, allowing take-out food sales only. So while many of Larchmont restaurants were able to continue operating, that option isn’t available to local retailers.
“I’m worried,” Bert Deixler, co-owner of Chevalier’s Books, told the Buzz. “We have closed our doors in compliance with the order, but we are paying our staff through mid-April because they are indispensable to our business. We have sought a rent abatement from our landlord, but we haven’t heard back. But the community has been, as always, phenomenal.”
Deixler said Chevalier’s is getting all kinds of requests from customers to buy gift certificates, and lots of requests for children’s books because their now-homebound kids have read all the books they have on hand.
“We are trying to get the Mayor to agree that we can fulfill email and telephone orders that people can pick up curbside, or we deliver deliver to our local zipcodes,” said Deixler. “I can’t believe they want to give Amazon a monopoly on book selling.”
“This is a very complicated time for us,” said Deixler. “We’d love the Mayor to give us the go-ahead.”
Edie Frère, of Landis Gifts and Stationery, who has been on Larchmont for nearly 30 years, echoed Deixler’s sentiment. Frère has been busy via email helping brides with summer weddings decide what to do with their invitations and save-the-date cards.
“Retailers are really hurting,” said Frère. “It’s great to see all the support for our local restaurants. It would be so helpful to have the possibility of selling what is in stock in our stores.” So she also wonders why brick and mortar stores don’t have the same rules as restaurants.
Frère is able to sell some stationery items through her website, because the items are shipped directly from the manufacturer. She is also reaching out to customers through email marketing messages, with offers for free personalization and free shipping, thanks to sympathetic manufacturers. Because Landis’ graphic designer is logged in to the store via his home computer, she is also able to work on custom designs, sending them to printing companies that are allowed to stay open. But Frère also has a store full of gifts and seasonal items that she can’t sell at the moment.
In addition, Frère is also concerned about her suppliers, many of whom own small businesses like hers.
“They paid to produce their goods, and they have employees, too. I get emails every day about a business closing temporarily and staff being laid off. I am trying to pay all of the companies whose goods arrived a month ago,” Frère told the Buzz.
Frère said she would love to see a “Great Larchmont Pick-up,” patterned after the “Great American Takeout,” for shops on Larchmont. She’s been in touch with other shop owners who are interested in participating.
We contacted Councilmember David Ryu’s office about Frère’s retail takeout idea, and are waiting to hear back from his staff.
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