Kent Station is slowly but surely bouncing back as more and more businesses reopen at the popular shopping center.
“Over 80% of our tenants are open at Kent Station and all businesses currently closed are planning to reopen according to the state’s phased plan or when feasibly possible,” said Kent Station general manager John Hinds in a Monday statement to the Kent Reporter about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Just as elsewhere across the city, state, nation and world, businesses were adversely affected. King County is in Phase 2, which allows some customers inside restaurants and stores. Phase 1 allowed only to-go orders.
“The state’s mandatory shutdown of non-essential businesses in March caused several businesses to temporarily close at Kent Station. However, many stayed open including a good number of our restaurants,” Hinds said. “We have been amazed by the resilience and unwavering commitment of these national, regional and local businesses who continue to operate and reopen as soon as possible.”
The Ram restaurant reopened Monday. Mama Stortini’s has served take-out for the entire period, but opened for sit-down dining on July 1. Duke’s Seafood restaurant reopened June 12.
AMC is preparing to open its theaters when allowed by the state, which could happen when the county moves to Phase 3.
“In addition to the recommend safety measures, they are in process of retrofitting the concession stands with sneeze guards as well as implementing other safety measures to make sure their customers feel comfortable entering the theater to enjoy a movie,” Hinds said.
Many essential businesses remained open during the shutdown, but had to bear the enormous task of adjusting operations to fit the state’s stringent requirements of being open, Hinds said.
“Many tenants were mandated to close, like William James Salon and Hand & Stone Massage,” Hinds said. “Gift card sales were promoted to help generate revenue and ensure their previously loyal customers would come back when they reopened.”
Many retailers promoted online orders, Hinds said. In the case of Gentry’s Footwear, they would personally deliver shoes to their customers’ homes. With the state enacting Phase 2, Kent Station management made accommodations for restaurants to expand their patio areas, allowing for more seating for their customers outside. It also promoted open and reopening businesses on social media and other media platforms. A media blitz promoting Kent Station and its tenants will start mid-July.
Kent Station, which opened in 2005, also raised $3,700 for its Moolah for Schoolah promotion even though it was in the middle of the drive when several businesses had to close. The annual fundraiser provides scholarships for Kent School District graduates who attend Green River College. The amount raised this year matched the amount in 2019. The funds will go to three students.
The shopping center also held two donation drives for local nonprofits and raised $4,400 and 1,442 pounds of food and other essential items.
Kent Station hopes to offer free outdoor concerts in August, pending phase requirements. The center has provided free concerts since 2006.
“If there is one thing we have learned from this pandemic, it is the importance of changing and adapting quickly to the ever-evolving environment,” Hinds said. “Communication with our tenants on a weekly sometimes daily basis has been a key component to our success within the Kent Station community. We will continue to provide guidance and do everything we can to help pave that new ‘next normal’ path to ensure their success during this time.”
Hinds hopes to see more and more people returning to the shopping center.
“We believe the route to recovery lies in giving people a sense of security as they venture back to their favorite restaurants and shops,” Hinds said. “We know our tenants are following proper protocols and best practices to reduce risk to exposure of COVID-19 and because of these efforts we are optimistic about returning to profitable and thriving operations.”