Shoppers flocked by car, bus and on foot to Westfarms Mall as it opened to the public Wednesday.
Sporting a turquoise handkerchief over her mouth and nose, Maureen Dawkins walked through the back entrance at California Pizza Kitchen with her eyes peeled.
“It’s nice; good, I like it,” she said of the mall reopening in phase one of the state’s Reopen Connecticut campaign.
Dawkins, a resident of Hartford, came to look around and see what she could find.
“I enjoy it because being in the house sometimes you feel bored,” she said. “Even if you’re not shopping you can walk around and look here. It’s healthy. I missed this a lot. A lot.”
Just as Dawkins was entering the mall, Waterbury resident James Taylor was departing.
“There wasn’t a lot open,” Taylor said. “I came all the way from Waterbury to go to Foot Locker and it wasn’t even open, so I was a little disappointed.”
The Waterbury Mall has not officially re-opened its doors to the public yet, so Taylor was not the only city resident who made the trip to Westfarms Wednesday.
Kayla Washington had a few items to return and drove in from her home in Waterbury as well.
“We’re also going to visit Auntie Annie’s and Bath & Body Works,” said Washington, carrying a Journeys shoe box. “It’s been so long.”
Edith Martin came from Enfield to do some shopping and make some returns.
“My concern is that not a lot of stores are open yet,” Martin commented as she left. “I was happy to see that American Eagle had everything – face masks and hand sanitizer. They were really helpful. Also good sales.”
Thirty of the 140 stores inside Westfarms were ready to open up their doors to shoppers on the first day retailers were permitted to do so.
“We’ll continue to update our website as others open up,” Westfarms spokeswoman Amanda Sirica said. “We encourage shoppers to check the website or call a store they’re planning on visiting before they come out.”
Westfarms’ Curbside Pickup program is a new addition and one that’s been welcomed by cautious shoppers who would rather remain outside during the ongoing pandemic.
There are 22 marked parking spaces at each of the center’s four entrances now designated for curbside pick-up. Shoppers can order items ahead of time with individual stores and staff will bring out their purchases upon arrival.
“We opened at 11 this morning and at 11:01 we had our first curbside pickup from the Lego Store,” Sirica said.
She and mall staff were encouraged by the flow of visitors on their first day back open and the manner in which people followed new guidelines for health and safety.
“We’re very optimistic and excited we can welcome back the community and our employees to Westfarms,” Sirica said. “Everybody’s been wearing masks, practicing social distancing and just doing their part. We’re all in this together.”
Other Connecticut malls now welcoming back shoppers include the CT Post Mall in Milford, the Danbury Fair Mall, the Westfield Meriden Mall, Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester and Blue Back Square in West Hartford.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.