Valley Fair Launches New Open-Air Market in San Jose

Valley Fair mall has a new open-air market of pop-up shops showcasing retailers tucked inside the mall, away from customers during the coronavirus pandemic that struck just as the shopping center unveiled its new $1.1 billion expansion.

The outdoor market opened at 11am Friday with 17 retailers at pop-up stands in the Outdoor Plaza and the North Valet Lot at the mall, which sits on the edge of San Jose and Santa Clara. The outdoor market will be open weekly from 11am to 7pm Friday through Sunday until Aug. 16. Face masks are required for employees and shoppers.

Retailers and service industry businesses that rely on customers at bricks and mortar locations have been among the hardest hit economically since mid-March, when county and state officials shut down non-essential businesses, according to recent data from Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

“Silicon Valley’s tech workers, for the most part, had a smooth transition to remote work and have kept their jobs,” said Russell Hancock, president and CEO of the South Bay think-tank. “At the same time, those working in retail and restaurants and other face-to-face jobs remain largely unemployed.”

Though restrictions have loosened slowly in the past two months, retailers with shops inside malls have remained shuttered, while others with exterior storefronts could sell goods more easily.

The new open air market at Valley Fair, one of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s most profitable malls in the country, will allow more shops to meet customers outside, where health officials say the contagious coronavirus spreads less easily if people stay at least six feet apart and wear masks.

Most of Valley Fair’s $1.1 billion, 500,000-square-foot expansion was unveiled in early March after about four years of construction. The no-expenses-spared upgrades included a new three-story Bloomingdale’s, a two-story Apple store and a “Digital District,” which aimed to bring small or online-only retailers into the popular mall.

Some construction has continued at the mall during the pandemic, Kate Diefenderfer, Westfield Valley Fair’s director of marketing said Friday. “Construction has been able to continue during the current state of limited indoor operations and we are grateful that construction schedules have not been delayed or impacted,” she said.

In all, Valley Fair spans more than 2 million square feet and, when fully operational, is expected to house about 360 storefronts, including specialty gyms, restaurants in a new outdoor dining district that has fountains with flames sprouting from the middle.

But since the novel coronavirus pandemic it, mall owner URW has shifted to a curbside pickup and shopping by appointment model as retailers wait to see when county and state officials will ease up on restrictions over in-store shopping. “URW is committed to partnering with our retailers to mitigate impacts, maximize, sales opportunities and operations potential, and providing marketing efforts which support our retailer’s business through each phase of the recovery and relief efforts,” Diefenderfer said.

Some of Westfield’s newest tenants will be part of its outdoor market. The full list of shops that will pop up outdoors this weekend are:

  • Salt & Straw
  • Quay Australia
  • UNTUCKit
  • Levi's
  • Coach
  • Haagen Dazs
  • Young Art Lessons
  • Rabbit Rabbit Tea
  • David Yurman
  • MCM
  • Hugo Boss
  • Pottery Barn
  • Sam Edelman
  • Ann Taylor (will open starting July 31)
  • Mrs. Fields Cookies (will open starting July 31)
  • Athleta (will open starting Aug. 7)

Janice Bitters is managing editor for Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @janicebitters.

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