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Coronavirus retail: Sunvalley mall in Concord preps re-opening

Coronavirus retail: Sunvalley mall in Concord preps
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CONCORD — The huge Sunvalley Shopping Center in Concord is preparing to reopen for in-person retailing, a welcome boost for an economy hobbled by coronavirus-linked business shutdowns ordered by state and local government agencies.

The vast mall, with more than 160 stores and five anchors that include Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Sears, Nordstrom Rack and Safeway, is slated to open its doors to in-store shopping starting on Thursday, Sunvalley officials said.

“This will be a gradual rollout,” said Nathan Fackrell, general manager with Taubman-owned Sunvalley Shopping Center in Concord. “A lot of our tenants want to be very cautious. They want to be sure they are meeting or exceeding the sanitizing and safety requirements.”

Preliminary mall hours at Sunvalley: Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“It’s exciting to be able to reopen,” said Elaine de Lara, a marketing specialist with the center. “We have been closed since mid-March.”

Macy’s, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, St. Andrew Jewelers, Subway, Sun Gate BBQ, Uniqlo, Zales and Zumiez currently provide curbside pickups.

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Despite ongoing uncertainties about the actual survival of some of the most storied names in retailing, the mainstays of Sunvalley mall are expected to remain at the Concord center on a long-term basis.

“Macy’s is here to stay,” de Lara said. “Our Sears is the number two Sears store in the area. J.C. Penney Concord is the top performer on the west coast. The only way those stores close is if the entire brand shuts down.”

Not all of the smaller retailers will be open for business on Thursday. However, Sunvalley mall believes all of the mall’s tenants will, over time, eventually return to operations at the Concord center.

“It looks like a really good turnaround after we had been closed,” Fackrell said. “All tenants have responded and said they want to re-open.”

Sunvalley also will launch with several new initiatives:

— Cleaning and disinfecting the center throughout the day and after-hours, with a focus on high-touch, high-traffic surfaces.

— Using a stronger disinfectant when available, encouraging the use of masks, using signs and decals to help customers with social distancing, offering hand sanitizer at designated stations, providing wipes for strollers, turning off drinking fountains.

— Removing furniture or resetting seating in common areas, configuring food courts to allow greater social distancing, and removing trays from food courts to reduce the number of high-touch surfaces.

Customers appear eager to see the doors swing open again at the Concord shopping center, mall officials say.

“I have had a lot of customer inquiries on Facebook, Instagram, asking when we were opening again,” de Lara said. “Our tenants have been asking us what would be the date to re-open. People are ready for in-store shopping again.”

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