Ronan Hess made his first trip recently to the Columbia Mall since it closed because of COVID-19.

“I was pretty nervous to go to a potentially populated place,” said Hess, who went to Pearle Vision for an eye exam. “They did a screening on me and checked my temperature before I went in for my checkup, and they had a list of precautionary steps in place.”

The mall reopened May 5. Many of the stores have posted signs listing hours and any COVID-19 precautions.

Barnes & Noble, Hot Topic and Torrid, Merle Norman and J.Jill reopened Friday. Dillard’s, which operates two stores in the mall, opened both about two weeks ago, an employee said.

Others, including Kay Jewelers, remain closed. According to Kay Jewelers’ website, the chain is conducting a phased reopening and has four stores open in the state.

Other stores closed as of Friday include Helzberg Diamonds, Victoria’s Secret, PINK, Attic Salt, Loft, GameStop, Bath & Body Works, White Barn, AT&T and Zales.

The parent company of stores with Columbia locations are facing financial turmoil, as many were forced to close for several weeks as a consequence of COVID-19. Victoria’s Secret stopped paying rent, and its parent company, L Brands, expects to close a quarter of its stores, according to media reports.

The J.C. Penney Company, which has an open JCPenney store location at Columbia Mall, filed for Chapter 11 on May 15. The chain plans to permanently shutter 242 stores, leaving the company with about 600 locations open, according to its website. The chain had not announced a list of closures as of Friday.

National retailers with stores in strip centers in Columbia also face financial difficulties. Tuesday Morning, which reopened its store on Forum Boulevard, filed for Chapter 11 and plans to close about 230 stores, according to a news release on its website.

Pier 1 Imports Inc. announced that it is closing all stores nationwide and is conducting sales at its stores, including the Columbia location.

The company filed for bankruptcy in February, and it intends “to initiate store closing efforts and sales once store locations can reopen,” according to its website.

Editor's note:  Previous versions of this story incorrectly reported that the Columbia Pier I Imports location was closed. We regret the error. 

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • General Assignment reporter, summer 2020 Studying magazine journalism Reach me at mkwwk3@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720

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