Westfarms Mall reopened Wednesday after closing in March because of the coronavirus. But for the steady stream of shoppers, it wasn’t quite the same experience they might remember pre-pandemic. The mall has over 100 shops but because each corporate office makes the decision for its own stores, fewer than 30 were open -- and that meant some shoppers left empty-handed.
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All customers and employees are required to wear masks. Signs throughout the mall reminded customers of social distancing guidelines.
“Each retailer has specific guidelines they’re following inside their store,” said Amanda Sirica, the mall’s spokesperson. “For any of our retailers that are open, you can call and coordinate a pickup at the curb. We’re happy to see our employees back to work and to be open for the community.”
Some shoppers ordered hot pretzels from Auntie Annie’s, with plastic barriers separating them from the cashiers. Others came with bags in hand, ready to make a return. Phillip Willis came to get toys for his son and jeans for himself from American Eagle.
“Sometimes I’ll buy things online and the sizes fluctuate so much that you’re nervous to buy it and wait all that time and [pay] shipping,” Willis said, “for it only to come and it doesn’t fit you, so it can be frustrating online shopping sometimes.”
Tamatha Wolfel, who owns Infinite Home Design in Rocky Hill, said she usually buys home decor online, but lately things have been out of stock or delayed.
“I’m staging an apartment, and I was short two pillows and a throw because my merchandise never came in from Amazon,” Wolfel said. “I’m very grateful to get what I got.”
Luxury brand Louis Vuitton was among the open stores but allowed only one customer in at a time. And managers at Urban Outfitters were still figuring out just how many shoppers they’d allow in the store. Custom signs with safety precautions hung from the store’s windows, informing customers of plexiglass guards at cash registers, reduced hours of operation and other changes.