Many residents of Valdosta are going through a self-imposed quarantine due to the threat of the coronavirus, much to the detriment of local businesses. One of the most impacted businesses would be the Valdosta Mall on 1700 Norman Drive.
Malls are not doing well as it is. According to CNBC, a website dedicated to business news, malls are suffering a multitude of store closures due to a reduction of foot traffic.
The isolation and social distancing stemming from the coronavirus panic already takes that foot traffic to a new low.
The majority of Valdosta Mall’s stores, like many other businesses in the area, have decided to reduce their hours or close altogether as a safety measure.
Usually, Friday afternoons are a busy time for The Valdosta Mall. This Friday, however, their foot traffic is nonexistent.
According to office coordinator Jennifer Strickland, this makes the mall’s overall opening hours inconsistent.
“I wouldn’t be able to tell you the mall’s hours at all at this time,” she said.
“Most of our actual corporate stores inside are closed. Some of the local ones and exteriors ones are still open, but their hours have changed.”
Kymberlee Sanders, a Valdosta resident who frequents Bath and Body Works, finds it amusing that this particular store is closed indefinitely.
”The irony of a store dedicated to being clean and selling bath products closing down is not lost on me,” she said.
”We need them now more than ever.”
Of all the closings, only Buckle and Torrid have a confirmed date to open back up. Buckle plans on reopening on March 31, and Torrid plans on reopening on March 30.
However, even local family owned locations, which are given more leeway on their hours, are not safe from closure.
PretzelMaker, owned by the Patel family, is closed indefinitely.
Urban Bella Boutique, one of the newer and locally owned stores in the mall, has also closed indefinitely. Unlike PretzelMaker, however, Urban Bella Boutique has online retail to fall back on.
Fun Factory isn’t a retail store, but it’s also closed due to health concerns. Their target demographic is children. Due to the greater potential of spreading germs, the owner couldn’t risk keeping it open.
Another Valdosta resident, Amber Thompson, is concerned with how the store closures will impact Valdosta’s economy.
“I get it,” she said. “I truly do. People don’t need to be getting sick,” she said.
“However, it feels very reactive. People still need jobs. People still need to live. Work is already hard enough to come by here. There needs to be a different way.”
Retail stores and the arcade aren’t the only ones impacted.
In order to reduce potential spreading of the virus, the Valdosta Mall has taken to removing the food court seating area, and all of the restaurants are now take out only, per CDC recommendations.
All but one of the food court restaurants are still open with regular hours.
There’s no plans of The Valdosta Mall shutting down operations. For more information on a specific store’s adjusted hours, call the central office at 229-242-0457.
Written by Malia Thomas, Entertainment Editor. Photos courtesy of Malia Thomas.