Norterra businesses fight through pandemic, adapt

Posted 3/22/21

Some north Phoenix businesses have taken the brunt of the pandemic head-on and appear to be charging out the other side as Arizona’s governor has loosened occupancy limits statewide.

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Norterra businesses fight through pandemic, adapt


Some north Phoenix businesses have taken the brunt of the pandemic head-on and appear to be charging out the other side as Arizona’s governor has loosened occupancy limits statewide.

Earlier this month, Gov. Doug Ducey announced he would rescind previous executive orders that put limits on how many people can be inside a business at a given time.

The owner of Crumbl Cookies at the Shops at Norterra is taking advantage. Sydney Herring opened her shop, 2450 W. Happy Valley Road Suite 1151, in April 2020, just as the pandemic was getting underway.

“We were pretty lucky in this situation,” Mrs. Herring said. “Even through the pandemic, people have loved coming to get cookies. It’s a happy spot for them during a time with so much uncertainty.

“One thing à think a lot of businesses did was to try and accommodate and be understanding. Everyone was experiencing heartache. We try to accommodate certain requests and donate when we can to the health field.”

Last year, the Mellow Mushroom’s leaders shuttered the business March 17 and strictly went to a 100% takeout model.

Keith Correa, district manager of Mellow Mushroom at 2490 W. Happy Valley Road, said he waited a week after the governor’s orders to not allow dine-in services at restaurants. The chain has  five Valley pizzeria locations.

Mr. Correa said he wanted to find out which methods were the most effective and which were inefficient. Since then, takeout sales have more than doubled. The restaurant’s curbside service, which was instituted in 2020, also has been a success.

“I wanted to see what other people were doing,” he said.

Mr. Correa said business “is behind” last year’s numbers but he said he is hopeful the pizzeria can catch up and keep pace.

Businesses at Norterra have had some help.

Dan Dahl, YAM properties director of real estate, said officials worked with tenants to develop innovative ideas such as hosting drive-in movie nights at the shopping center. Officials touted takeout services from the center’s restaurant tenants.

YAM Properties owns and operates more than 12 properties in the metro area. The business is a Scottsdale-based real estate investment and development group of Bob Parsons, the founder of GoDaddy who had branched out since selling that company into various business ventures, including real estate.

Mr. Dahl said his group helped to maximize outdoor areas and opened previously closed roads to allow access for convenient pick-up from restaurants. His team also designated nearby parking stalls for driver efficiency.

The YAM Properties team also took to social media to help potential customers shop at Norterra and Westgate, another property owned by the company, and let customers know they were open, Mr. Dahl said.

“Social media was a lifeline for many, as they were able to quickly adapt to the hardships and push messaging that could aim to support the bottom line,” Mr. Dahl said. “At Westgate especially, we tried to keep things as 'fun' as they could be. We hosted a free, virtual Easter egg hunt, fitness classes and more. We wanted our community to know we’re still here as a bright light – living up to our tagline: ‘Westgate, Where Fun Happens.’”

YAM Properties has added more than 30 tenants to various commercial properties during the past few months, according to a press release earlier this month.

Mrs. Herring said her landlord helped with rent for “a month or two” but that the business didn’t need to take out any small business loans during the pandemic. She said business has been good.

Now, Mrs. Herring is looking to open an additional location.

“So busy and so good,” Mrs. Herring said. “The holidays are always a busy time of year with parties, gifts, gatherings, etc. We love it!”