EVERETT — The intoxicating food court aroma and shrill of teen laughter is back at the malls.
So, too, are toddlers and seniors.
But those zippy strollers with steering wheels and cupholders are no longer for rent at Alderwood mall, and the walker program at Everett Mall is paused until at least Phase 3. We’re only in Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to return to normal.
Both malls reopened last week, but a number of merchants initially stayed closed. Macy’s, Nordstrom and J.C. Penney at Alderwood opened this week, as did Burlington in Everett. Seattle Premium Outlets in the Quil Ceda Village in Tulalip also is open.
The malls closed in March due to the statewide stay-home order to control the COVID-19 outbreak. Phase 2 allows retail stores and malls to operate at up to 30% capacity and restaurants at 50%.
Draven Fenstra, 13, was at Everett Mall on Wednesday after several months of “sitting around.”
He and his cousin made the rounds — to the comic shop, fro-yo stand and arcade — just “having fun and wasting money.”
“It’s normal-ish,” Draven said.
After the mall, he planned to go home and sit some more.
The malls have hand-sanitizer stations and social distancing markers. Signs advise anyone who feels ill to stay home. Mall patrons are not required to wear masks. At least one-fourth of the shoppers at Alderwood and Everett malls were not wearing face coverings when both sites were visited mid-week.
“Masks are highly encouraged,” Alderwood mall manager Jerry Irwin said.
Disposable masks are available at no cost from Alderwood security officers or at the security office. Some individual stores require masks, which all workers must wear.
“Well over half of the stores are open,” Irwin said. “Things are going well. We are seeing a good amount of traffic.”
Many restaurants in the mall’s food court are open. Half of the 700 tables were removed. Tables, chairs and high chairs are cleaned after every use.
Thrill-seekers have to wait to bungee jump until the harness is sanitized before they get to bounce five minutes for $11 at the atrium attraction. Same with those renting motorized riding animals.
At Everett Mall, most stores are open, said manager Ray Chavez.
“It has exceeded my expectations,” Chavez said. “A large number of our tenants are local and small operators that come from the community itself, not chains.”
For merchants, the reopening is like Christmas in June.
“Customers are excited to come to the mall,” said Mirza Bahadur, manager of the T-Mobile Metro kiosk at Everett Mall. “They are excited to spend money on new phones and upgrades.”
The Jedi juvenile known as Baby Yoda was the star at Phantom Zone Comics at Everett Mall.
The 3.75-inch bobblehead Funko Pop figure from “Star Wars: The Mandalorian” sells for $10.99 and was flying off the shelves. The 10-inch super-sized Pop for $39.99 sold out.
Before shoppers could get their hands on Baby Yoda or the extensive selection of comics, shirts, action figures and other items, they had to sanitize their hands. A table with a dispenser was by the door.
During the closure, the shop sold items online. Graphic novels were top sellers.
“I did more business since I opened than in all the shutdown,” store owner Joel Bowyer said. “People are wanting to get out. They are jonesing for their figures and Pops now.”
Before you head to the mall, check the hours.
Everett Mall is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
At Seattle Premium Outlets and Alderwood mall, hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.