FARGO — The usually hustling and bustling West Acres has stood quiet for nearly three weeks in an attempt to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Originally set to reopen by the end of March, the shopping center's senior vice president of marketing and business development said mall staff has been closely monitoring the situation and guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other officials. That's why West Acres has extended the closure through the end of April.
But for some of the businesses within the mall, creativity is key to continuing business.
"We of course have the essentials open," Alissa Adams said. "Essentia is still open with their clinic and the pharmacy is still open. And then Best Buy has also been deemed an essential business and they've been open and operating to help everybody with their tech needs during this time of working from home."
Food businesses, like Chick-fil-A and Panera, are continuing with their drive-thru and takeout options, while Granite City and Chili's have been experimenting with new options, too.
"We have a handful of businesses within the mall that have been creative and found new ways to operate during this time," Adams said. "Many of our our local options are doing something unique."
Apricot Lane, a clothing store, is offering online shopping through its Instagram page. Evereve has begun offering stylized boxes for its customers for a small fee, alongside their online shopping.
"We also have local businesses like Real Good Bath and Body, Creative Kitchen and Shirt Shop that are doing fun things during this time as well," Adams said. "In order to support them, we have complied a list of what those stores are on our website and social media feeds to get the word out and support them during this time."
West Acres continues to work to be a gathering space for the community. While Adams said they still don't know when operations can resume as usual, staff members are working to share joy with the community they call home. Most recently, through the gift of flowers.
"We had about 100 plants that had been delivered to West Acres right after we announced our closure," said Adams. "And we had nobody coming in to enjoy them and we didn't want them to go to waste, so we decided to give them away."
That meant 50 people each got two plants and some joy from the unexpected gift from the mall, she said.
"We've also had our regular flower deliveries that usually come to the mall," she said. "We have fresh flowers that have been delivered elsewhere in the community to nursing homes or other places during this time as well. So we're trying to find ways to share joy and in wherever we can, while we're closed until we can open back up to public."
Until then, Adams said West Acres will continue to focus on ensuring there'll be a vibrant shopping center for the community to enjoy when it can welcome back shoppers.
"There's no greater joy for us than to be this community gathering space," she said. "And we can't wait to be able to do that again."