CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB)–The re-opening of more businesses under Phase 2 of the state’s PAUSE order led many Western New York retailers to believe they would be opening this week, but disappointment set in when they learned enclosed shopping malls were excluded.
Hundreds of stores in Western New York shopping malls are closed, while others in stand alone locations such as retail plazas and strip malls are open.
Store owners, such as Nathan Mroz, owner and founder of the BFLO store, are frustrated, “There was all this talk about Tuesday being the day and then it was not until that morning. So how can you prepare if you don’t really know, but people are ready.”
Many of the store operators said they are confused by the state’s decision because they have stores at other locations that are allowed to open, such as the BFLO store that is closed at the Walden Galleria, but open at the Eastern Hills Mall.
Mroz has five BFLO stores, and as of Friday, three will be open for business, “We are in a very blessed position. We actually are able to get two, actually three starting tomorrow, of our outdoor stores open. But if that was not the case we would really be in a tough spot.”
The BFLO store at the Eastern Hills Mall is allowed to open because the entrance opens to the outside, but his store at the Galleria is not.
Mark Andol’s Made in America stores are also a mixed blessing. His store at the Galleria is closed because it does not have an external entrance, but others, including his stand alone flagship store in Elma are open.
“In the mall I think they can keep their distance, they can still practice all the safety they need to, but we need to get open. I don’t see the difference from the outside entrance to the inside.”
Marlene Gigliotti has operated a salon at the Walden Galleria for more than 20 years, but because Gigliotti’s Euphoria Salon & Spa cannot access the outside of the mall she can’t open.
Euphoria’s competitiors who do have access to the outside can open–under very restrictive health regulations–and now Gigliotti worries her disadvantage could cost her customers.
“Absolutely. They need to go have their hair done. Hair is essential, it is about feeling good inside and out, and I would want my guests to go and have their needs taken care of, and unfortunately that is going to definitely hurt the business here.”
When Western New York advances to Phase 3 or Phase 4 it could throw open the doors at the malls, but that could take time which some store operators are running short of, which is why they are asking state officials to change course and allow them to open for business now.