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Mall corridors quiet, except for the puppies, on last day

How much is that doggie in the window? Cheap

QUEENSBURY — COVID-19 cases were rising Thursday in northeastern New York, downtowns were going dark as shops and restaurants closed and Aviation Mall was having a run on puppies.

In mall corridors that were mostly empty, you could hear the excited babble of dog-lovers Thursday morning as a small crowd peered through the glass at the puppy cages and customers snuggled with the animals they had just bought.

Word had gotten out through social media: Because of the virus’ spread, the mall was closing Thursday evening, and that prompted Pet Zone to offer deep discounts on its puppy supply.

Ted Santiago, a district manager for the pet store chain, didn’t want to give hard numbers, but commenters online said the store had more than a dozen puppies for sale at 75% off.

“They’re all up for cost,” Santiago said.

The aim was to sell all the dogs, but if any remained unsold at the end of the day, they would continue to be cared for in the store, he said.

“It’s gone viral on social media,” he said, of the puppy close-out.

Another store worker was tending a constantly ringing phone, quoting puppy prices.

Otherwise, the mall was eerily quiet, with shutters pulled down over most of the shops and barely enough people to fill a coffee shop wandering the corridors.

Across from Pet Zone, the mall’s manager, James Griffith, watched the commotion and confirmed most of the shops had already closed. About 20 were open Wednesday, but that was down to a handful by Thursday, he said.

He doesn’t know when the mall will reopen — “That’s up to the governor,” he said — but a small staff of security and management will continue on-site.

Nail necessities

One of the shops still operating Thursday was Angel Nail Spa, and Sherry Jenkins of Granville was getting her nails done, as she has every three weeks or so for the past 18 years.

Jenkins works as a monitor and teaching assistant at Granville high school, and even though school is canceled, she has been going in to work once a week to help get papers out to students doing schoolwork at home and to deliver meals.

Kim Tran took Jenkins’ fingers in her hands and began wiping the nails clean. After the mall closes, Tran said, her plan is simple: “Stay home.”

Although she had a few appointments scheduled Thursday, business had been slowing down for a week or more, Tran said.

Across the way at Jonathan Reid, business has been steady despite the pandemic, said manager Brian Ouellette. The shop has a full lineup of menswear — “from head to toe,” he said — and also more than 2,000 tuxedos for rental.

Local proms are a source of business for the shop, and they are still scheduled, although Queensbury high school, which was going to hold an April prom, is moving the event to late in the spring.

Herb Sweet of Queensbury was walking in the mall Thursday morning, as many people do — preferring it to a treadmill — but he will have to find an alternative.

“My next step will be walking around the mall” — meaning outside, he said.