Bricks-and-mortar retail stores, we’re told, are in a dreadful state.
But while a number of stores remain shuttered, some permanently, at The Westchester in White Plains — double-whammy victims of the unstoppable rise of internet shopping and the advent of Covid-19 — it’s by no means all doom and gloom at the luxe mall. Indeed, just the reverse.
WAG recently caught up with Maria Gregorius, The Westchester’s dynamic incoming director of marketing, to see why The Westchester is hot to trot.
What’s the atmosphere in The Westchester right now? Are shoppers shopping with confidence or is it just the intrepid few?
“People crave connecting in real life, especially considering the pandemic, and find joy in discovering the new and different. It’s great to see shoppers out and about discovering the new and exciting retailers we’ve recently added to the center.”
Is shopping a markedly different experience for the shopper now than it was pre-Covid? If so, how?
“Many of our retailers are now offering curbside pickup, which provides a very convenient option for our shoppers. We’ve reopened Play, our children’s play area, and the Connect lounge, which provides entertainment with a large television screen, lounge seating, charging stations and meeting tables. Savor Food Hall has stayed open, and we find that many of our shoppers enjoy sitting out on the patio while eating meals.”
Any special protocols to mention (such as, does The Westchester, or do the individual stores, have a common mask policy)?
“Some retailers are restricting the number of shoppers in their store to maintain a safe social distance.”
Many stores are shuttered or have sadly closed for good. Was it Covid that did them in or were other market forces at work?
“Some stores have closed but what’s great is that it has given other retailers the opportunity to open and we’ve had a lot of exciting activity at the center and will continue to throughout the next year.”
Obviously, you don’t have favorites, but please share with readers three new or newish stores you’re really excited about.
“We’ve had many exciting, new stores recently open. Judith Ripka (gold and sterling silver jewelry) opened this past summer. Forever 21 (leading fashion retailer) and Direct Kicks (a locally owned premium sneaker boutique) opened in September — and Neuhaus Belgian Chocolate. And Moose Knuckles (innovative outerwear for the coldest temperatures) has opened within the past few days.”
What’s new or exciting at the food court?
“The newest addition to Savor Food Hall is Shake Shack, which has been very popular. Shake Shack serves delicious and high-quality burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, frozen custard, shakes, fries and more. Our other food offerings in Savor Food Hall include Bang, Melt Shop, The Little Beet and Bluestone Lane.”
What exciting new initiatives can we expect in the next 12 months, Covid-permitting?
“For the holiday season, we will have a brand-new, elegant Santa set that includes a gorgeous LED walk-in ornament with seven beautifully decorated trees, over a dozen gift boxes, rolls of synthetic snow and Santa’s bench, which will provide for a wonderful photo experience. Santa arrives on Nov. 12.”
Lastly, can you tell us about some stores what will be launching soon?
“Of course. Sunglass Hut opened their newly built flagship store on Oct. 22. Fabletics (high-quality fitness apparel) will open in early November. Aerie (activewear, underwear and swimwear) is coming in early November. Levi’s will open in mid-November and Therabody (a wellness brand, which makes incredible ‘percussive massage guns’) will open in early December. Lastly, there’s Arhaus, a purveyor of luxury furnishings with a global perspective opening next year, and we look forward to that opening.”
For more, visit simon.com/mall/the-westchester. And for more on The Westchester’s Covid policies, visit healthsafetyfirst.splashthat.com/localhomepages.