Some suburban malls to reopen so stores can offer curbside pickup

At least three suburban malls are poised to reopen Friday for "retail-to-go" under the state's modified stay-at-home order.

Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale, Fox Valley Mall in Aurora and Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills have been closed for more than a month because of state-imposed restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

But Friday is the first day retail stores will be able to reopen to fulfill telephone and online orders through curbside pickup and delivery.

Namdar Realty Group, which owns Stratford Square, says it will reopen the mall property to all tenants and employees on Friday morning. The mall at the southeast corner of Gary Avenue and Schick Road will operate on reduced hours from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"We encourage all merchants to reopen their locations at our properties, which will allow a restart of business operation," the company said in a statement released Thursday.

Centennial Real Estate, which owns Hawthorn and Fox Valley, says both malls will have retail-to-go beginning Friday. The centers will operate on a reduced schedule from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The doors at all three malls will remain closed to the public.

Instead, shoppers will be asked to place orders and pay for the purchases online or over the phone through individual retailers.

Shoppers who want to pick up their purchases in person may do so in the parking lot of each mall. Officials say retail-to-go areas will be clearly marked.

Store employees will deliver each shopper's purchases to the customer's vehicle, placing the order in the back seat or trunk.

"This expanded service will offer shoppers a new curbside pickup option, which allows them to resume purchasing nonessential goods in a safe manner," Colleen Heydon, senior vice president of marketing for Centennial, said in a written statement.

A spokeswoman for Namdar said Stratford's staff and security staff will closely monitor the situation to ensure everything happens safely and seamlessly.

Store employees at Stratford will be required to wash or sanitize their hands after each interaction with a customer. Whenever possible, they must disinfect any item that came into contact with a customer.

In addition, mall employees are being urged to take health precautions recommended by the CDC, including frequently washing their hands for at least 20 seconds.

"As government bodies allow, properties will begin to reopen in phases that will consider preventive measures for the safety of the public," Namdar's statement reads. "The public health and safety of our patrons, merchants, employees, and communities are a top priority."

It's unclear how many stores at Stratford plan to - or can - reopen following retail-to-go guidelines. Namdar says it will release a list of participating retailers in the next few days.

• Daily Herald staff writers Mick Zawislak and Marie Wilson contributed to this report.

Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills will have retail-to-go beginning Friday. The center will operate on a reduced schedule from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Daily Herald file photo
Fox Valley Mall in Aurora will reopen for retail-to-go on Friday. Mall officials say the service will offer a curbside pickup option so shoppers can resume purchasing nonessential goods in a safe manner. Daily Herald file photo
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