Needing some holiday cheer around now? Good old Beltway Plaza Mall has Santa photo opportunities every day (Santa got his covid booster) and most importantly, the vendors and the Plaza itself have survived!
(Tomorrow Eric Maring’s Sunshine Family Band will be performing holiday music in the Mall from 2 to 4 pm.)
Beltway Plaza Mall and the Pandemic
Yes, I’m writing to encourage readers to shop local, but I’m also spreading the word about the Plaza’s resilience during the pandemic.
I asked Kap Kapastin for an update. He’s the Plaza’s general counsel and well-known outreach guy in the community. Bottom line, he’s “so proud of our merchants and restaurants for standing up to the challenges of adhering to Covid 19 restrictions, while displaying courage and resilience.”
Two merchants are now gone but only because of retirements of long-standing small business, family-owned and operated shops – ID Communications and Luv ‘N Time. And two national tenants closed due to the shrinkage of their fleet of stores or bankruptcy – GNC and Books-A-Million.
There’s lots of good news, though – several new tenants have opened: Twins Personal Care, Bazar Anarkali Gourmet Shop, 7 Meje International Grocery, August 32 Tea Room, and Oishi Sushi. Coming soon is EZ Kabob.
What clearly made the difference in the survival of the tenants? Grants and loans, such as PPP under the Cares Act and the Greenbelt Recovery Fund – sources of relief that Kap made sure the tenants were aware of, then helped them apply for (an arduous process I’ve heard). Kap credits such government relief, and “state-of-the art social media, software for both point-of-sale and online ordering, and high-tech sales software.” He has special praise for marketing director Janubi Devendra and marketing consultant Jon Enten “for their committed and creative labor and support of the merchants and restaurants.”
The Plaza also helped the greater community in various ways throughout the pandemic and continuing: sponsoring food and diaper give-aways, candlelight vigils, prayer meetings and voter registration drives, and re-assigning the Police Substation to the Greenbelt Police Department.
For the covid safety of customers and the community, they installed Amazon lockers so people could safely and securely receive and/or return their online purchases. Also, picnic tables and chairs were provided so that people could eat outdoors in safety.
Those are in addition to the Plaza’s regular support for the community. Examples of its generosity include National Night Out, Greenbelt Farmers Market, student robotics teams, the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, Trick or Treat and Costume Contest for Halloween, Toy Drive/Shop with the Cop and the Lions Club Toy Drive, donating Thanksgiving turkeys, and this very website.
In projects like these Kap also credits the support of PG County Councilman Mel Franklin and his team, the Greenbelt Police Department, the Greenbelt Rotary. And let’s not forget Greenbelt Citizen of the Year Shaymar Higgs, who gave away free art for all and created art and wellness classes for Greenbelt residents..
One last note from Kap: “Despite all of our combined efforts, the economic recovery for our merchants and restaurants will prove daunting, challenging, uneven and difficult through 2021 and into 2022. However, I am encouraged by the creativity and entrepreneurship and fortitude of our tenants and other retailers and view the future positively.
Food at Beltway Plaza
I stopped by yesterday and had lunch at Subway, while noticing how many other options there are that I should try. For example, the African restaurant Jodeem. GreenbeltOnline’s intern did a profile of Jodeem, telling the story of the owners’ journey to bring authentic Nigerian food to Maryland.
Shops at Beltway Plaza
Shops I was happy to see OPEN when I visited yesterday. Good news for the many fans of the hardware store who post about it to Greenbelt’s Facebook groups.
For crafters and anyone who works with fabric, Jo-Ann’s continued existence is a relief. That includes me.
Entertainment at Beltway Plaza
Plans for 2022
The Plaza folks are to break ground next spring on Phase 1 of the Detailed Site Plan, which will consist of 750 apartments, a 92-room hotel and a 27,000-sf recreation hall donated to the community. Read all about it here.