Little bustle, but Hampshire, Holyoke malls back in business

  • Seth Yeaton, who is the owner of X9 Games at Hampshire Mall, talks about his business, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. He said foot traffic in the mall is up since its opening last week and his regular customers have started to visit again. His store is also a place where people gather to play games and meet like-minded people, but it is still unknown when that part of his business can resume. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Though J.C. Penney at Hampshire Mall was closed on Tuesday, June 16 2020 it is expected to open on Wednesday. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jacob Orcutt of Hopedale looks at Pokemon cards, Tuesday, June 16, 2020 at X9 Games in Hampshire Mall. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The food court at Hampshire Mall must remain closed in accord with Gov. Charlie Baker's reopening plan, but Arizona Pizza is serving outdoors and food is available for takeout. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Seth Yeaton, left, the owner of X9 Games at Hampshire Mall in Hadley, talks Tuesday with customers Jacob Orcutt and his father, Francis Orcutt of Hopedale. Yeaton said foot traffic in the mall is up since its opening last week and his regular customers have started to visit again. His store is also a place where people gather to play games and meet like-minded people, but it is still unknown when that part of his business can resume. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ricky Kazim works on a phone Tuesday at Cracked Solution, a kiosk at the Hampshire Mall. Vugar Abdullayev, the store’s owner, said his business is only 35-40 percent of what it was at the start of the pandemic. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ricky Kazim works on a phone Tuesday, June 16, 2020 at Cracked Solution, a kiosk at Hampshire Mall. Vugar Abdullayev, the store's owner, said his business is only 35-40 percent of what it was at the start of the pandemic and he has tried to increase sales at his online store through advertising. The business repairs phones and tablets and sells accessories, such as cases, chargers and screen protectors. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 6/16/2020 6:57:34 PM

A week after shops and restaurants inside the enclosed malls in Hadley and Holyoke were allowed to begin welcoming back shoppers, customers are slowly returning to the sites that have been closed for nearly three months.

At X9 Games in the Hampshire Mall, owner Seth Yeaton said regular customers have discovered that he has reopened, after several days where he noticed there were few other people in the building.

Although stores such as Target have been able to remain open continuously during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Arizona Pizza at Hampshire Mall has been making meals for takeout and now outdoor dining, the mall corridors, and many of the shops and kiosks within them, have just recently opened their doors as part of the second phase of the state’s reopening.

At both malls, which are open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., except Sundays, when interiors are open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., there are healthy shopper guidelines in place for people to follow, safety and sanitizing policies have been enacted, and various procedures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are being followed.

“Our preparations over the past two months have truly put the safety and well-being of our guests, tenants and employees first,” Aiden McGuire, director of corporate communications for the Pyramid Management Group, which owns both malls, said in a statement.

The protocols that customers will have to follow have become commonplace, including a requirement that all shoppers wear masks or face coverings, stay 6 feet apart for social distancing, follow directional signs and markings, avoid contact with other shoppers and stay home if feeling unwell.

Hand-sanitizer stations have been installed at the digital directories throughout the building, at the still-closed food courts, and in other common areas.

Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of touch points, restrooms and seating areas is taking place, with use of both CDC-recommended disinfectants and new electrostatic sprayers, similar to those used to clean hospital rooms.

Mall employees, security, housekeeping employees and all contractors returning are subject to daily health screenings aimed at reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

At Holyoke Mall, numerous stores and kiosks have already reopened, with some delaying their return until later this month including H&M, Spencer’s, Lenscrafters and Starbucks.

Lynn Gray, general manager for the Hampshire Mall, said that so far five businesses that do not have exterior entrances have reopened. They include X9 and Cracked Solution, a cellphone sales and repair kiosk, both open during mall hours, Subway for takeout only, Hannoush Jewelers by appointment only and Tutti Frutti.

Gray said JCPenney, which has been closed, reopens Wednesday in both Hadley and Holyoke, while other retailers at the Hampshire Mall, such as Faces, Claire’s and Bath and Body Works, will reopen at a later date.

In addition to Target and Arizona Pizza, other stores that are continuing curbside and in-store purchases include Dick’s Sporting Goods, Joann Fabrics and PetSmart.

The third and fourth phases of the state’s reopening will have to be reached before businesses focused on entertainment and personal services, including Cinemark movie theaters, Planet Fitness, nail and hair salons, Pinz restaurant, bowling alleys and arcades, and Interskate 91 and Laser Blast, begin welcoming back customers.

But Gray said most of these will be ready when that part of the reopening is announced.

“Most, if not all of those store operators have been on site and actively sanitizing and preparing to reopen,” Gray said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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