LOS ANGELES — Melrose Avenue, once among the hottest retail and fashion strips, is feeling the chill of California’s disastrous economy.

The challenges of the Melrose corridor — along with Los Angeles districts such as West Third Street, among others — are a microcosm of the plight facing smaller shopping areas here that attracted tenants when consumer spending was at its peak, but don’t command significant tourist traffic and lack ubiquitous chains that are more capable of weathering economic upheaval.

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