After being closed for more than two months because of COVID-19, the Valley View Mall will open its door to the community again May 22.
“It has been challenging,” Valley View Mall General Manager Jeff Odom said. “You come into a property that typically employs 900 people, and now that is basically empty with no one here except our housekeeping, maintenance and essential staff, it is different. It was a little depressing.”
With eyes on reopening, the mall took advantage of time closed to deep clean the entire facility. Odom said they used CDC recommended disinfectant agents and protocols.
“Our focus was to get everything ready so that we are ready for the community and ready to provide them a safe environment to shop in and go from there,” Odom said.
Roughly 27 out of the 55 stores at the mall are expected to open Friday with new guidelines put in effect by their corporations or information the mall has shared from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation site for retail stores, restaurants and fast food. They plan to following CDC, federal, state, and local guidelines.
“I think everybody is excited, but everyone wants to be responsible and put safety first,” Odom said. “We look forward to getting open and then see how we continue to improve and put our shopper first.”
Shoppers will notice changes once entering the doors. Signage was installed to keep top-of-mind awareness about proper social distancing and sanitary guidelines. All of the soft-seating areas have been removed. The play area is closed until further notice as well as touch-point areas such as massage chairs or kiddy rides.
The food court has spaced-out seating about 10 feet apart with limited chairs for each table reducing seating availability down to nearly 30 percent in the food court. Staff will not allow groups to slide tables together.
Odom said while they were closed, they did have the chance to work with stores to help individual customers.
“We receive calls daily. We had a young lady whose engagement ring was in repair. We had another young lady that had a prom dress still in an alterations store. We worked with those retailers to make connections to get the transaction completed in a safe way, so we were fortunate to help a lot of different individuals.”
This August will mark the 40th Anniversary of the Valley View Mall in La Crosse.
“We’re grateful to our local community in the support they have given us over these 40 years,” Odom said. “We just encourage everyone to follow the guidelines to create as safe of an environment as possible.”