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34 good deeds from retailers and their landlords

April 29, 2020

Red Development is offering its employees free meals from restaurants at its shopping centers. Scott Rehorn, a partner in the company, explains, “It is our hope that we inspire other businesses to help the community at large in any way they can.” Here is a sampling of the good deeds other shopping center owners and major retailers are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic, all while they’ve been shutting down some of their properties and stores to help slow the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, they’re finding new ways to accommodate growing interest in curbside pickup, takeout orders and deliveries.

Providing food

As a way to thank employees, and to show support for their tenants remaining open during the pandemic, Red Development allowed their employees to order free takeout for three meals a day from restaurants at any of its 16 participating properties from March 16 through April 19th. “As COVID-19 continues to bring hardship to communities small and large across the country, we wanted to find a way to not only say thank you to all of our hardworking employees, but to also show our support for the tenants remaining open in these unprecedented times,” said Rehorn.

In Queens, New York, Federal Realty Investment Trust’s Fresh Meadows Place and tenant Applebee’s Grill + Bar are providing 60 breakfasts for doctors and staff at New York-Presbyterian Hospital for 30 days.  

Glen Eagle Square, a lifestyle shopping center in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, has hosted two drive-up meal programs for temporarily displaced workers of the shopping center. At the March 26 event, it served 500.

BoxLunch, a specialty retailer that sells pop culture-inspired gifts, is providing one meal to a person in need for every $10 spent in store and online through a partnership with Feeding America.

Southeastern Grocers — parent company of Bi-Lo, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie — surprised thousands of frontline workers on April 13, by paying their grocery bills.

CoreGiving, a philanthropic partnership of shopping center owner ShopCore Properties and sister multifamily real estate company LivCor has raised and delivered more than $590,000 to 20 community food banks across the U.S.

Between March 20 and April 17, every order from a tenant restaurant at The Bellevue Collection in Bellevue, Washington, prompted center’s merchants to donate two meals to a local nonprofit’s emergency-response food-relief program for children and families. The program, called Do Good with Delivery, provided more than 32,000 meals.

Several restaurants at Brixmor’s centers — including Blackbird Cafe at Burlington Square in Burlington, Massachusetts, and Wayne’s Smoke Shack at Superior Marketplace in Superior, Colorado — allowed community members to purchase free meals for local hospital workers. Brixmor supports these efforts with corporate donations and Facebook ads.

Through its C19 Community Initiative, Trademark matched donations to organizations that are feeding people in the 12 markets where it has properties, going dollar for dollar up to $100,000 through April 17. They raised $200,000, which will provide immediate relief to families. “We couldn’t stand by and not a figure out a way to help,” said Terry Montesi, CEO of Trademark.

From April 21- 26, each Chipotle Mexican Grill digital purchase that the customer named “4HEROES” prompted Chipotle to pledge a free burrito to a medical professional. The giveaways will start May 6, National Nurses Day.

Outlets of Little Rock and the Arkansas Food Bank hosted a drive-up food distribution in partnership on April 28. Each family received enough food for 40 meals.

Making personal protective equipment

Nike is repurposing parts of its popular sneakers into full-face shields and air-purifying respirator lenses. The collar padding from its shoes and drawstring cords from its apparel are being used to create snugly fitting protective gear. “The full-face shields help protect health care workers’ faces and also help to prolong the length we can safely use a surgical or N95 mask," said Dr. Miko Enomoto, associate professor at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine.

AMRoC Fabric Lab, a STEM education and fabrication lab at RD Management’s University Mall in Tampa, Florida, has partnered with a Department of Defense engineer to use 3D printing to make protective face shields for local hospitals and health care workers. It has helped deliver 12,000 face shields so far.

L.L.Bean is making 10,000 masks a day using a material designed for dog-bed liners, according to CNBC.

Members of Nordstrom alterations teams in Washington, Oregon, Texas and California are sewing more than 100,000 masks for Washington’s Providence Health & Services.

Partners Healthcare and the City of Somerville, Massachusetts are hosting a decontamination system for personal protective masks in an empty former Kmart owned by Federal Realty Investment Trust. The system can sterilize as many as 80,000 N95 masks a day so heath workers can reuse them.

Ulta Beauty, in collaboration with FEMA, is donating 450,000 of their medical-grade gloves to hospitals across the country.

Participating Staples stores in the U.S. have set up boxes to collect personal protective equipment for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals caregivers.

People in Superior, Colorado, could purchase meals for local hospital workers at Wayne’s Smoke Shack in Brixmor’s Superior Marketplace

Providing testing sites

Walgreens plans to have drive-through testing locations open in 49 states and Puerto Rico. The company has 18 drive-through testing sites across 11 states and expects to have 23 sites open in 15 states by the end of the week, according to CNBC.

CVS is aiming to have 1,000 coronavirus testing locations across the U.S. by the end of May. CVS currently operates large-scale testing sites in five states.

Kroger Health, the supermarket’s health care arm, will expand its drivethru testing model to 50 locations in more than 12 states by the end of May.

And Rite Aid operates 25 drive-thru testing sites in Delaware, Idaho, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Other creative ways to help

Dozens of centers have hosted blood drives to mitigate the decrease in blood donations amid the pandemic, including CenterCal Properties’ Bridgeport Village in Tigard, Oregon, and New England Development’s Asheville Outlets in North Carolina, Outlets of Des Moines in Iowa, Palm Beach Outlets in Florida and Westgate in Brockton Massachusetts. As Trina Holmsted, Palm Beach Outlets marketing director, said, “The need for blood donations never stops."

Urban Edge Properties donated vacant space at Bruckner Commons in The Bronx, New York to collect donated items and food for vulnerable community members. Urban Edge is a partner in the effort, which is part of a new relief program called Relief Access Program for the Bronx, which has distributed 4,600 grocery bags to local nonprofits and food pantries since launching on April 1.

The Outlet Resource Group is offering the use of its shopping centers’ Wi-Fi. Community members can access it from the parking lot with no enrollment mandates, as previously were required. The company also has opened parking lots at some of its outlet centers, which are located along highways, to truckers who need places to stop.

Galleria Dallas is using its website as a portal for donations to a series of local nonprofits, such as the North Texas Food Bank.

To lift community spirit, Azalea Regional Shopping Center in South Gate, California, sponsored a virtual Easter event, offering free downloads of an Easter Bunny coloring book. On Easter Sunday, it included a physical coloring book in all orders from participating restaurants.

Tanger Outlets in Washington, Pennsylvania, started a food and clothing drive April 3 to support the local City Mission and food pantry, according to the Observer-Reporter. It will run through April 30.

The Rite Aid Foundation will donate $5 million to local organizations providing support during the pandemic, including  $1.5 million to organizations supporting health care providers and first responders, $1.5 million to regional emergency response funds in COVID-19 hotspots, $1 million to Feeding America and Boys & Girls Clubs of America and $1 million to the Rite Aid Foundation Associate Relief Fund.

Westfield launched a nationwide awareness program about local nonprofits’ work. Using #WestfieldCares on social media, employees and centers highlight the ways they’re working within their communities. Westfield shopping centers have created more than 32 thank-you programs for first responders, supported more than 80 charities helping vulnerable populations and initiated more than 12 COVID-19 drive thru testing sites and blood donation drives.

To help small businesses, Sam’s Club has donated $1 million to the LISC, which provides grants to businesses to help fill urgent financial gaps. On social media and by email, Sam’s Club also will share stories of how small businesses are faring during the pandemic.

Chick-fil-A has created a $10.8 relief fund for food donations or other necessary items for first responders, health care workers andChick-fil-A employees and their families. It will distribute the funds through its more than 1,800 franchisees.

BJ’s has designated Sunday mornings from 8-9 a.m. as frontline appreciation hour, allowing health care workers and first responders to shop without memberships. BJ’s also is offering first responders free, four-month memberships.

Phillips Edison & Co. reaching out to all tenants who had to close to discuss their challenges and available resources, has hosted webinars on topics like social media and is using the hashtag #takeouttogether to push orders toward its centers’ open restaurants. Additionally, the company’s High Point Village center in Bellefontaine, Ohio, hosted a drive-thru mobile pantry. Sinai Urgent Care, located at Murphy Marketplace in Murphy, Texas, is running a drive-thru testing site.

By Rebecca Meiser

Contributor, Shopping Centers Today

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