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By Mike Hazlip–
The 1.1-million-square-foot Sunrise Mall reopened its doors to the public at 11 a.m. Friday, with shoppers required to wear masks and follow social distancing.
Although the mall has seen a significant decline in retail sales over the past decade and a plan is in the works to guide redevelopment of the property, it still attracted some locals and out-of-town shoppers on Friday.
Kim Carrillo, of Orangevale, was one of the first shoppers at the mall Friday morning with her mother and great-grandson. She prefers Sunrise Mall over the Roseville Galleria, which she said has too much traffic and crowds.
“To me the Galleria is more for the younger set,” Carrillo said. “I like the convenience: come in here, get out the door, go about my business.”
Mall walkers Dave and Rosey Valeska were also found at the mall on Friday and said they have been walking the mall together every day for three years. Dave Valeska said Sunrise Mall was a big reason he moved to Citrus Heights from Oakland.
“We never go to Roseville, because it’s too crazy,” he said. “This is a perfect mall.”
An elderly couple, Ken and Lois, said they’ve been coming to the mall from Placerville since 1980, preferring Sunrise Mall to more expensive alternatives in Folsom.
Merchants in the mall said they were given short notice to open their stores. Several businesses were still closed as of Friday morning.
Muhammad Ali, owner of Image, was eager to get back to work. He said owning his business is a big part of his life, and he thinks of his customers as family and friends.
“I feel like I’m a fish coming back to its water,” he said. He’s optimistic there will be a “very strong coming back.”
Seva Khripunov, owner of Espresso Bar at Sunrise, was glad to be back to work at his coffee shop, which is his only source of income. He made money during the shutdown by caring for his grandmother and expressed hope that weekend traffic at the mall will be busier.
Dyana Nazary, owner of M&M Couture, had been closed since March 19. Nazary had to refund the deposits from her customers for weddings and proms that were canceled as a result of the shutdown.
Nazary said her husband owns a smoke shop, where business picked up while her store was closed. She worked from home doing alterations while the mall was closed.
“I got a good break, I was working seven days,” Nazary said. “Now I spend time with my kids. I was loving it, even though the business was closed, but I was enjoying the family time with them.”
Looking down the road, Nazary is concerned about the future of the mall.
“Today I came here and I’m kind of disappointed,” she said, referring to the limited number of shoppers.
Retail sales at the mall have dropped by nearly a third over the past decade, according to a recent market analysis from a city consultant. Last year, the city hired a consultant to develop a “shovel-ready” plan to guide redevelopment at the mall, and earlier this year selected a “preferred concept” for the mall that includes at least one hotel, over 800 residential units, a looping bike path, major office space and a “town center” for outdoor events.
Kenneth Hawthorne, Operations Director for Sunrise Mall, said he expects business to slowly pick up at the mall, following the two-month closure due to COVID-19 health orders. Hawthorne said he’d been coming to his office in the mall almost every day during the shutdown to work with tenant relations, answer the phone, pay bills, and ensure the mall was secure.
“I’m glad we’re opening up, slowly but surely,” he said. “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Hawthorne said Zumies, Shoe Palace, and Macy’s were acting as fulfillment centers for online orders in the area during the closure. The same three retailers then started curbside pickup as soon as restrictions were lifted.
Most of the phone calls Hawthorne said he received during the shutdown were from people who like to exercise by walking around the mall: “Those are the types of people that keep places like this alive,” he said.
Sunrise Mall’s current hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. In addition to food options, retailers currently open are:
- California Basics
- Metro PCS
- Dr. Ring / Cel Tel
- Ralph’s Jeweler’s
- Sam’s Jeweler’s
- Shoe Palace
- M&M Couture
- Tops Men’s Fashion
- As Seen on TV
Image and Macy’s stores inside the mall are slated to reopen June 1, and Christopher and Banks is planning to open by June 9, according to Sunrise Mall’s Facebook page. An opening date for Vans has not yet been announced.
*This article was first published in The Sentinel’s May 31st Weekend e-Edition. Click here to sign up, free.
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