Westfield Valencia Town Center opened to the public Wednesday, following a monthslong closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m looking outside — the parking lot is full,” Hurat Nazarian, co-owner of Manya Jewelers, said Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve missed seeing the parking lot full like this.”
Last week, Nazarian and his wife, Manya, were boarding up their store as a precaution due to the possible protests nearby, having to halt even curbside orders because the store was inaccessible.
A week later, the boards have been taken down, and Manya Jewelers is back in business.
“We can’t be more excited, and are extremely happy,” Nazarian added. “I think it’s way overdue. We’ve been ready forever to come back to work because our payments didn’t stop … And now, a lot of people are waiting to get married, and they want engagement rings.”
Also located in the mall, TyCam Marketplace owner Felicia Smith says though she’s excited, she is not ready to reopen just yet.
“We had a meeting (Tuesday), and they gave us the requirements as far as what we needed in regards to COVID to be able to open, so I’m getting my checklist done, and I should be open in a few days actually,” Smith said.
The reopening is akin to stepping out of uncertainty for the first time in months, Smith said.
“The mall has been great with keeping us updated and the communication has been good,” Smith added, “but of course, I’m not gonna be light-hearted about it; financially, it’s been challenging for all of us. I had about 20 different artists from across the U.S. and, of course, it impacted us tremendously. But we’re looking forward to the reopening, and hopefully we can recover.”
Even so, she put the closure to good use, spending the quarantine renovating the shop, updating her ecommerce and preparing the shop to reopen, whenever that day came.
“I went in alone, cleaned up the whole place, put up new shelving, new walls,” Smith added. “I’ve been knitting. That’s my little specialty as far as crafting, so I am going to be so ready for the upcoming holiday.”
Now, she and her vendors are all more than ready to reopen, Smith said.
“We have new crafters, and I’m just so excited, the makers are excited,” she added. “It’s been a trying, unfamiliar territory, but I’m just wishing everyone well. And, I appreciate all the support that we’ve been getting. It’s been wonderful.”
Over in Canyon Country, The Open Book reopened its doors to customers June 1, and they’re continuing curbside service, which store manager Diana Roach said has been surprisingly successful.
“I didn’t really know what to expect with that because it’s unusual, but everything’s unusual for everybody these days,” Roach said. “It was definitely a lot of the staff having to try to find book recommendations tailored to the customers and make sure they’re getting what they like or need if they don’t really have a specific title in mind, and I’d like to think we were mostly successful. We got a lot of really good feedback on that.”
Customers who now choose to shop in-person can do so, though they’ve implemented some restrictions in order to abide by public health guidelines.
“First, we made sure they have a mask on and we do a quick temperature check with one of those contactless thermometers,” Roach said. “We make sure we give them the gloves or hand sanitizer because it’s a bookstore, so people are going to be handling a lot of things, and we want to be as clean and safe about it as possible. … Then, that’s it. We let them in to shop.”
Even so, a majority of customers have been supportive of the restrictions, Roach said.
“So far, so good,” she added. “A lot of people are just really happy to have us open, and from what I’ve seen, a lot of people are very, very appreciative of the restrictions because then it makes them feel safer to come in and shop. … A lot of people are definitely on board with helping us out.”
And, it’s those supportive customers that Roach says have made the changes go so smoothly.
“So many people have just been wanting to come in and support us and being patient with us considering how crazy everything has been,” Roach added, “because it’s so easy to get frustrated and annoyed with all the restrictions, but I would say the reaction and everybody have been super supportive. I love all the customers that we have. They’re amazing. It’s been a relief for us.”