Having grown up in Westchester, former Brooklyn resident Sarah Shapiro always knew she wanted to move back to Westchester when she had kids. She managed to convince her husband to make the big move from Brooklyn to Chappaqua, NY. She has settled happily in Chappaqua making friends and opening up TRENDMAT, a “micro boutique” selling trendy, affordable accessories. Here is Sarah Shapiro’s Life in Chappaqua.
Describe your journey to Chappaqua
My family moved to Westchester (from Long Island) when I was in 2nd grade. I’ve always loved it here and was able to convince my husband, raised in Ohio, that Westchester is the absolute best spot to settle down with a family. We put a bid on a home in Mamaroneck, but mostly we looked at homes in Chappaqua. We like the country feel and our budget stretched further in Northern Westchester vs. Southern Westchester.
Did you know anyone when you moved to Chappaqua? Any advice for newcomers on the best way to meet people?
We didn’t know anyone when we first arrived in Chappaqua, in the middle of August (6 yrs ago) with a 1.5 yr old toddler. My first stop was the Chappaqua Library, which happens to be just next door to our home. I started meeting lovely mothers and caregivers quickly, including lots of “expats” from Brooklyn (where we had just moved from). Personally, I think libraries (and not just in your hometown, in the surrounding towns as well) and playgrounds are a great way to meet people.
Also, be forthcoming with your child’s school that you are new and looking to make friends. One of my very best friends and I were introduced via a note from our child’s teacher saying that our boys were playing nicely together and that they were new in town. And, of course, Facebook! Local moms just love to share and dish out advice. I don’t know where I would be without the “Chappaqua Moms” Facebook Group page.
Can you describe your social life?
My young boys are early-risers and it’s putting a real crimp in my social life at the moment. So, instead of evening plans, we often have “cocktail hour” with other families with young children. The kids play in the yard, we sip wine on the porch. My husband is a BIG fan of craft beer and there are many breweries in and around Westchester. Many are kids friendly, So, on the weekends, the kids come with us.
During the week, I try to grab coffee or lunch with my girlfriends. It always depends on sitter availability and my shop hours. If it’s dinner, we usually head to Pleasantville. Downtown Pleasantville is very close to downtown Chappaqua, and it’s got a great restaurant scene.
How old are your kids? What do you like to do with your kids in the area?
I have two sons, they are 3 years old and 7 years old. They are your classic rambunctious, energetic and exhausting but lovable boys. I like to be out- and-about with them always, because if we stay home they will either become zombies in front on the TV or trash the house.
In the summer: hiking, local pool club, Long Island Sound beaches, berry picking, farmer’s market and “porching” (a verb for just hanging out on our large wrap-around porch).
When it’s cooler outside: Rocking Jump in Mt. Kisco, Bounce U in Elmsford and Kids U in Pleasantville. Maybe a trip to the Target in Mt. Kisco?
How would you describe Chappaqua residents?
I’m going to be honest, we’re a rather homogeneous bunch. However, people are typically kind and friendly. We’ve made lots of good friends and both my boys are very happy here.
What are your favorite restaurants in Chappaqua or in the area?
Pubstreet in Pleasantville (lunch with the girls or date night), Le Jardin in Chappaqua (great hours and great French food, with or without kids), Rocky’s Deli in Millwood (open 24/7/365 for outrageous deli sandwiches), Pour in Mt. Kisco (super charming wine bar with light fare) and Susan Lawrence in Chappaqua (gourmet prepared foods)
What are your go-to places in Chappaqua or in the area?
CeCe Nail in Pleasantville for a clean and serene manicure, The Kings Scribe in Chappaqua for clever greeting cards and lovely small gifts, Breeze in Chappaqua for unique hostess gifts and Squires in Chappaqua for their huge selection of outwear (kids and adults). Also, the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, which is a non-profit movie house that shows independent films in cozy little theaters.
Where do you go to stay fit?
Ha! My kids are my cardio.
What are some things you don’t like about Chappaqua?
I don’t like that our elementary schools end in 4th Grade. I think we are rushing our kids out of elementary school and into middle school too soon. And I don’t care for the aggressive driving that I see on our winding, narrow country roads. Also, I’m nervous about the amount of empty retail storefronts in downtown Chappaqua, we all need to #shoplocal!
Are you a member of a country club/beach club/yacht club?
We are members of the Chappaqua Swim and Tennis Club. Chappaqua (in the town of New Castle) does not have a town pool, however, there are several private pool and tennis clubs. These clubs are by no means glamorous, but they are perfectly serviceable and my boys always enjoy themselves when we go.
What has your experience been with schools in the area?
Growing up in Harrison (a town in Southern Westchester), I have always been aware of Chappaqua’s reputation for wonderful public schools. So far, my older son begins Second Grade in the Fall, the school have lived up to the hype. Our taxes are outrageously high, but our public schools are fantastic.
I’ve also been very, very pleased with World Cup Nursery School, which is located in Chappaqua. Both of my boys attended World Cup. Their staff is top notch and the curriculum in academic, not entirely play-based.
Do you or your spouse commute to the city? What has your experience been with the commute? How long does it take to get to Manhattan?
My husband commutes to the city daily, and has told me that he actually prefers his commute from Chappaqua over his commute from Brooklyn. This is partially due to the fact that our home is very, very close to the Chappaqua train station. He can walk to the train and once he’s on board he can be at Grand Central in about 50-60 minutes.
By choosing a home near the train station, we took this pressure off of ourselves. When we bid on a home in Mamaroneck (before we bought in Chappaqua), it was also within walking distance of their train station. I highly recommend browsing homes that are within walking distance of your local train station. We love it! In fact, we did a major home renovation last summer to give ourselves more living space in our home because location, location, location!
Any advice you can give to someone looking to move to Chappaqua?
Chappaqua has some weird traffic patterns. I’d hang out downtown during our rush hours and see how the traffic builds. The traffic exiting our train station can be mostly avoided if you don’t have to drive over the bridge that goes over the tracks.
Also, bigger isn’t always better. There are some gigantic “fixer upper” houses in Chappaqua. Those big homes can be tempting, if you are coming from cramped city living. But, as some who recently busted her own renovation budget, huge homes will require a huge amount of maintenance. That’s not a problem if you have huge budget, but we did not.
Tell me more about TRENDMAT?
TRENDMAT is my dream come true! My “micro boutique” provides the experience of raiding your best friend’s closet, and not only because it’s the size of a closet. It’s packed to the brim with trendy and inexpensive accessories to amp up whatever you’ve got hanging in your closet at home. It’s a great place to grab a gift (I gift wrap!) or a little pick-me-up for yourself.
It’s called TRENDMAT because the space used to be a drive-thru film processing kiosk called a FOTOMAT. There are lots of long-time Chappaqua residents that recall my kiosk being empty “forever,” and they are so pleased to see it come back to life!
Any book recommendations for the beach or pool?
I have a stack on my bedside table that I haven’t tucked into yet: “How Could She” by Lauren Mechling, “Fleishman Is in Trouble” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner and “Breathe In, Cash Out” by Madeleine Henry
About Sarah Shapiro
Sarah Shapiro is a Westchester native, currently living in Chappaqua with her husband and two young sons. She grew up in Harrison, and worked at the legendary local boutique, Havana Jeans in high school. A love of retail was born. Following college, she worked in Public Relations in NYC for several years before returning to Westchester in 2013. Until recently, she was at home caring for her 3 and 7 year old boys. Shopping for the TRENDMAT customer is the perfect feminine outlet for this girly-girl who lives with three dudes. Visit her website. Instagram: trend_mat
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