AJ Moore marveled at the crowds at the King of Prussia Mall on Sunday.
She owns and operates AJ Moore Exclusives, an artisanal jewelry shop in the Bloomingdale’s wing that reopened Saturday.
“I thought it would be like a ghost town,” said Moore, “but people seem to be more excited to come out. I’ve seen more walk by today than in the days before we closed in mid-March.”
Shopping malls began to reopen this weekend, marking a tentative return to normalcy for the Philadelphia region after months of pandemic restrictions.
In Pennsylvania, the King of Prussia Mall welcomed shoppers on Friday as Southeastern Pennsylvania moved into its “green phase,” which eases restrictions to allow the economy to strategically reopen.
Moore didn’t see much evidence of pent-up demand for shopping. No one was laden with bags as they would be before Christmas. Yet customers were enthusiastic. One bought a novelty T-shirt directly off a mannequin on which it was displayed.
“You can tell people want to roam and see people again,” she said. “I don’t think the money is there, but the need to get out is prevalent.”
In New Jersey, where the state is gradually reopening under “Stage 2,″ merchants at the Cherry Hill Mall eagerly readied their businesses on Sunday in anticipation of long-missed customers. Malls open Monday for the first time since March 17.
Sara Purdy, who owns the Kona Ice Hawaiian-style shaved ice at the mall’s food court, plans to arrive early.
“I’ll be there at 10 a.m. for the 11 o’clock opening,” she said. “I’m excited.”
Purdy isn’t sure how much business to expect but is bringing back all of her employees.
The mall will allow only 50% capacity and customers must enter through two designated entryways. Employees have to use a separate entrance. Employees and shoppers must wear masks.
“The food court is only open for takeaway, so there’s no inside seating,” Purdy said. “Once you purchase some food, does that mean you have to leave the mall to eat it? We don’t know yet. It’s near impossible to eat a Kona Ice through a mask.”
Purdy said she’s comfortable going back.
“If I had reservations, I wouldn’t be there,” she said, noting all the protocols in place.
Cheryl Squadrito operates the Media Friendly public relations agency out of a 1776 start-up incubator at the Cherry Hill Mall.
“I can’t wait to get in there,” Squadrito said. “Where the incubator is, it’s not very crowded, but I anticipate they’ll let in as many people as they can. They’ve been very good at keeping on top of all the protocols.”
Squadrito has worked from her Haddonfield home since March 12 with her two teenage children and her “all-American mutt,” Brindy.