Museums and Theaters Close, Malls Adjust Hours, Small Businesses Scramble

Friday's state of emergency declaration due to the coronavirus pandemic prompts many Twin Cities institutions to suspend operations. Meanwhile, some small consumer businesses get creative.

Museums and Theaters Close, Malls Adjust Hours, Small Businesses Scramble
The Hennepin Theatre Trust website shows all shows canceled or postponed.

Pandemic realities seem to be changing by the hour. On Thursday, the Twin Cities largest museums were issuing assurances about the steps they would take to keep their buildings clean during the COVID-19 crisis. On Friday, within hours of a national emergency being declared, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Walker Art Center, Science Museum, Minnesota Children's Museum and many others said they would close temporarily starting today. Even the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, where many of the attractions are outdoors, has closed to the public.

Theaters are doing the same. Ordway has postponed all events through April 19. Hennepin Theatre Trust, which including the Orpheum, State, and Pantages, is postponing shows. The Dakota music venue in Minneapolis announced Saturday that it is going dark through March 26.

Major shopping malls in the Twin Cities—as of Saturday—had yet to follow suit. Mall of America suspended all common area events. Crayola Experience temporarily closed all of its locations nationwide, including MOA, but so far other major attractions, including Nickelodeon Universe amusement park remain open. Galleria in Edina announced reduced hours and is leaving it to individual tenants to limit operations beyond that for now.

But nationally, large retailers are beginning to shut down. Patagonia, which has a store in St. Paul, was one of the first to announce it would close all locations and online shopping as well, so that employees could remain at home. Apple, which has reopened its stores in China, announced Saturday that it would close all stores throughout the rest of the world through March 27. Ann Taylor and Loft stores will close today at 7 p.m. and remain closed until further notice. And other retailers with a significant local presence, like lululemon and Nordstrom, have announced reduced hours.

Many small consumer businesses—stores, restaurants, fitness studio—don’t have the resources to withstand a prolonged closure and continue paying employees. Across social media, a movement is spreading to buy gift cards from local shops and restaurants to help them stay afloat. "They need the cash flow," local influencer Alex Lodner wrote on her Instagram. "And after this is over, you will need ice cream." Many restaurants are racing to add delivery or create more space between tables for a safer environment (get the latest local dining updates at Boutiques are offering curbside pickup and waiving delivery charges. 

Linden Hills art store Heartfelt is creating take-home craft kits. Minneapolis-based jewelry brand Larissa Loden is offering free domestic shipping all month. June Resale in Minneapolis is taking phone orders, offering delivery and free shipping. Owner Daune Stinson also pointed out, “At a small business, especially now, you are able to shop without coming in contact with large amounts of people.”

Several fitness studios are making online workouts available. 

Modo Yoga in Minneapolis remains open with stepped up cleaning protocol, but the center also plans to share classes online, both recorded and live stream, for its monthly members. The Linden Hills studio mXe Movement has cancelled all live classes until April 1, but is streaming its workouts instead with a seven-day free trial. 

Minneapolis-based fragrance brand Alora Ambiance announced a sale: 25 percent off small diffusers. “We know that luxury home fragrance is not front and center for most these days, and I get it,” co-owner Therese Gibbons said. “But we’re hoping folks might treat themselves to a special scent while spending more time at home.”

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