Melrose Avenue merchants are attempting to recover from a steep downturn that's forced several stores to close.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the iconic strip has suffered hard times since its heyday in the 1990s, when it attracted shoppers from around the world. But now, the Times reports, along one stretch of Melrose, between Fuller and Martel avenues, one third of the stores are vacant.
The Times reported that rates for retail space dropped to lows not seen in a decade.
Singer Morrisey was spotted shopping Monday at Chuck's Vintage Jeans, where big celebrities still love owner Madeline Harmon's one-of-a-kind vintage jeans. But Harmon admits she's not used to seeing empty stores sprinkled among what used to be one of the hottest retail spots in the world.
"It terrifies me," she said.
While most people blame the recession for the situation on Melrose Avenue, real estate broker Philip Klaparda had a different explanation.
He said many of the independent stores and boutiques were driven out of the area by downtown merchants who were willing to pay higher rent, but were offering products that were much less unique.
Klaparda said this diluted Melrose, and made it less a destination for shoppers looking for original fashions.
But merchants who still have a stake in Melrose Avenue believe it will come back. They've banded together to push for improvements in street cleaning and parking.
They say Melrose is far from dead.