Malls, retailers reopen to small, but steady, crowds of shoppers

Malls, retailers reopen to small, but steady, crowds of shoppers

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Wednesday was the day many store owners and their customers have been waiting for, as malls and other stores were allowed to open in Kentucky.

While malls weren’t packed on the opening day, a good number of shoppers at Oxmoor Center were checking out big retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Von Maur, both ready with new sales and procedures.

“It’s been fantastic,” Oxmoor Center General Manager Kendall Merrick said. Merrick said she saw a large number of shoppers at 11 a.m., when the doors opened at Von Maur. The store was offering shoppers 30-percent off sales on its reopening. Merrick said workers have been busy sanitizing stores and common areas.

Throughout the mall, there were signs that read, “Shopping Smart, 6 feet apart.”

Merrick said it’s the new normal.

Kentucky retailers like those in Oxmoor Center and Mall St. Matthews nearby got Gov. Andy Beshear’s thumbs-up to open to walkers and shoppers Wednesday morning, with plenty of hand-sanitizing stations scattered throughout the malls.

“We have signage throughout the center, to remind people of social distancing," Merrick said.

Macy’s will join other stores and open its doors Friday at noon, along with food courts and restaurants that can open to 33-percent capacity. Most shoppers wore masks and said they felt safer with smaller crowds.

“I couldn’t wait until they opened back up," shopper Maria Wheatley said. "I have three small kiddos that I’ve been with, so my sitter is there and I’m taking a little me time.”

Wheatley said she started her day first with an outdoor mall experience at Collections at Westport Village. She said she appreciated coronavirus safety precautions in place there.

Clater Jewelers, in business more than 70 years, has been busy helping families with graduation gifts with curbside service. Wednesday, gemologist Christy Effinger said she was happy to see customers back in the store.

“Our customers are like family, so it’s great to welcome everybody back,” she said, adding that customers must be buzzed in and wearing masks. “When you hand us jewelry, it’s sprayed down with an alcohol solution that’s safe for the jewelry, but also kills the germs.”

Around the corner, at Tunies Boutique, also at Westport Village, store owner Kelly Farmer said she was excited, and a little nervous, about reopening.

“There’s anxiety, because I want people to feel safe," Farmer said. "I want my employees to feel safe and I want Louisville to feel safe.”

Hand sanitizer is available on displays all over the store, along with notes asking customers to use it before touching merchandise. Farmer said reopening was emotional since closing March 17. She jumped to online sales, getting her business back up to 40 percent to stay open. She said that’s all thanks to her loyal customers. Farmer remembered asking herself at the time, “What can I do to show my family, my husband, my children what you do in something like this?”

Her answer was simple.

“You just go to work," she said.

Since not all stores are open yet, and some hours are different at many shopping centers, you may want to check store and mall websites before heading out.

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