South Coast Plaza Curbside Pickup
Curbside pickup was something that Walmart shoppers did. It was not a cool and trendy thing, it was simply convenient. But all of that was before coronavirus changed so many things about our lives. Today curbside pickup is necessary, it is chick and is done everywhere, from nurseries to luxury retailers, like Bloomingdales.
I am talking about California here, South Coast Plaza specifically. It is located in Costa Mesa and has been closed since March 16th. A few days of rest would’ve been OK, but after many weeks of no business and no customers, retailers are at the end of their financial ropes. All of that is happening while the entire state is re-opening slower than anybody else.
While curbside pickup doesn’t offer you the same experience as in store shopping would, this is better than nothing. The newly announced program is called SCP 2 GO and started last Friday. Since South Coast Plaza is known for being a destination with over 250 boutiques and eateries, curbside pickup works a bit differently than Walmart or Home Depot. Once you place your order with a store of your choice, you will be assigned a color coded pickup station. So far there are 5 such stations around the mall. Walmart and Home Depot just have one station, usually on the side of the store.
The stores and restaurants are celebrating this re-opening, even if it’s not full yet. Over 80 establishments in the mall signed up to join this new age way of shopping and delivering.
The whole thing is very simple, I tried it. I placed an order at Bloomingdales and within a couple of hours got a message that my order is ready to be picked up. I drove to my designated color stop and dialed the phone number that was on the signs in the parking lot. It wasn’t busy at all, so there was no traffic and no long wait time. Every car was on a numbered parking spot, so it was easy to locate everybody. I popped my trunk and in a few minutes a lady showed up. She was carrying my bag and wore a mask. We had no contact with me and the entire exchange took no more than two minutes. It was so easy and pain-free that I am definitely going to do it again while waiting for the entire mall to re-open sometime this summer.
Both retailers and customers enjoy the ability to interact and have some type of human connection, albeit limited. It is definitely better than having an Amazon guy ring your door bell and run away to make sure you don’t come too close.
The limited re-opening opportunity comes just in time for many retailers that otherwise would have to think about going out of business. For customers, who are staying home for over 2 months, this situation is equally tough, so the chance to drive and get their new dress, jewelry, or a simple tote can feel like a much needed breath of fresh air.
The mall closed on March 16 due to one confirmed employee case of COVID-19. The initial closing was expected to last for 2 weeks, but as California was ordered to shelter in place, all non-essential businesses were shuttered down.
Today California is one of the last states to loosen the restrictions. Even those businesses and parks that are allowed to open are advised to limit the number of customers and ensure adequate space between people. Masks will be a must and social contact minimal for a very long and sad future in California. When it comes to large malls, like SCP, restrictions will be tough – no children’s play zones, employee break rooms outside, security watching that stores would allow no more than 50% of normal capacity, and frequent cleaning of every surface.
California is not alone in this, but it is taking it much further than Southern states, where restrictions were eased a while ago and requirements are fewer. One thing is for certain – re-opening even if slow and restricted, feels good and is essential if we want businesses to survive and customers to avoid mental hospitals. There are few things that little retail therapy won’t make better, and coronavirus quarantine is definitely one of those things. Let’s just hope that wider re-opening is in the cards for California and sooner rather than later!