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Weathering the Storms

Lynn Gray

Lynn Gray, general manager of the Holyoke Mall.

As she talked with BusinessWest, Lynn Gray and her staff were gearing up for February school vacation.

It’s always a busy time at the Holyoke Mall, which Gray serves as general manager, as young people and families look for things to do. But these days, it’s even more so as ever-larger amounts of the mall’s 1.6 million square feet of space become dedicated to entertainment-related ventures rather than pure retail — although there’s still plenty of that as well.

Indeed, over the past several years, former retail spaces have given way to tenants like All In Adventures (billed as the ‘ultimate escape destination’), Altitude Trampoline Park, Round1 Bowling & Arcade; Planet Fitness; and Billy Beez, a massive play area that is home to twisting slides, sports courts, tunnels, trampolines, and more.

This is a national trend, said Gray, noting that, as major retailers — ranging from Sears and JCPenney to Christmas Tree Shops and Best Buy — close stores, their former spaces have found new lives in non-retail-related uses. And malls have become even busier during Christmas break, February vacation, and other times when the weather is less conducive to outdoor fun.

“People are looking for something to do that week indoors,” she said. “During February break, it will be pretty busy, especially if the weather is inclement. Then in April, it will be a little softer just because things are warming up a little, but it’s still a busy week for us; we staff up for it, and retailers and other tenants have a lot of specials.”

This trend is just one of the storylines at the mall, perhaps the largest commercial real-estate property in the region, and one that has become a topic of conversation and speculation in the wake of a changing retail landscape, one that has seen many national chains downsize or even disappear from the landscape (Sears and Toys R Us, for example), ever-larger amounts of shopping conducted online, and some malls, including two locally (Eastfield and Enfield), being repurposed into mixed-use facilities or moving quickly in that direction.

“While we were shut down during the pandemic, we were still concurrently trying to roll with the changes that were about to come over the next couple of years. Some brands went away, and some remained relevant.”

Gray, who first worked at the mall when she was 15 selling gift certificates and has fashioned a career managing such facilities, said the facility has certainly been impacted by these trends, but, while some other malls are suffering, Holyoke continues to thrive, and for several reasons.

She lists everything from its incredible location — at the intersection (literally) of the Mass Pike and I-91 (off which it has its own exit) to its still-healthy mix of retailers, restaurants, and entertainment-based businesses, to some of that downsizing among many retail giants. Indeed, Holyoke now boasts the only locations for Best Buy, Apple Store, and Macy’s for at least 30 miles in any direction, and in some cases, it’s a much larger area.

The Holyoke Mall

The Holyoke Mall encompasses 1.6 million square feet of space and is in an almost constant state of change.
(Photo by Glenn Labay, Aerial Camera Services)

And with those stores and that location … people want to get to Holyoke, and they can get there, rather easily, she said, adding that these ‘differentiators,’ as she called them, not only attract visitors, but new tenants as well.

“We’ve certainly seen the benefits of that market consolidation,” she said, adding that this and other factors contributed to what was a very solid holiday season at the mall. While the final numbers are not in yet, most mall tenants came out of December happy with their results, she noted

And those same retailers are saying that, while overall visitation is down slightly — data shows the mall is drawing 99% of the total visitors it drew in 2021 and 98% of the number in 2022, 9 million overall — those who do find their way there are generally spending more, on average.

“We’re easily accessible off of 90 and 91, and we’re in a position to tap a much larger market than some of the regional properties that were or still are in the market.”

Meanwhile, the ongoing change and evolution experienced by every mall continues at Holyoke, said Gray, adding that there have been several intriguing additions in recent months and renovations planned at several outlets.

For this issue, we talked with Gray about all that and much more as the mall braces first for February school vacation, and then continued response to that changing scene in retail.

 

Setting Sale

As she walked and talked with BusinessWest, Gray stopped at Monsoon Bistro, one of the newer additions to the mall, taking the spot formerly occupied by Ruby Tuesday near the Macy’s entrance.

It’s one of many new restaurants that have opened in the mall over the past year, several of them growing local businesses, she said, adding that these are some examples of how malls, and especially the one in Holyoke, are in a state of nearly constant change. These changes reflect national trends, changes to the economy, and ebb and flow within the world of retail.

one of many recent additions at the Holyoke Mall

Garage, a casual clothing brand for young women, is one of many recent additions at the Holyoke Mall.

Overall, 25 new brands have called the mall home since the pandemic arrived in 2020, she said, adding that COVID certainly contributed to the changing of the landscape.

“While we were shut down during the pandemic, we were still concurrently trying to roll with the changes that were about to come over the next couple of years,” she explained. “Some brands went away, and some remained relevant.”

Elaborating, Gray noted that 24,000 square feet of mall space got converted into new openings over the past year alone, with 12 new businesses setting up shop.

“It was a good mix of retail, which is still our bread and butter,” she said, listing new arrivals such as Garage (which touts itself as a “casual clothing brand for young women who are fun and effortlessly sexy); Snipes, a global streetwear retailer now boasting more than 450 locations; a few new jewelers, including Mandati, King’s, and the Inspiration Co.; a Verizon store; and others.

“Those types of facilities are bringing a more eclectic mix of shoppers — all ages, all groups.”

Meanwhile, as noted, the new arrivals extend to the restaurant side of the ledger and even the food court, with the addition of El Burrito, a growing local venture that took over space formerly occupied by Wendy’s; and Terra Nossa Brazilian Grill, which replaced a former McDonald’s.

In most respects, 2023 was a better-than-average year for signing new leases with smaller, sometimes local retailers, an annual assignment for malls, while also backfilling some of the much larger spaces left by the departure of major retailers, in this case ranging from Sears to Toys R Us to A.C. Moore.

Often, such backfilling takes years, Gray said, noting, for example, that the Sears at the Holyoke Mall has been closed for nearly a decade, and its space has not yet been fully repurposed. Sports Zone, a specialty operator featuring sports memorabilia, is occupying the first level of that large footprint, and in years past, Spirit Halloween has taken some of that space on a seasonal basis, but the second level remains vacant.

But many spaces have been successfully filled, she went on, adding that this was the case with the departure of Christmas Tree Shops (which went to Holyoke Crossing and then eventually closed that location), with that space now occupied by Bob’s Stores, and the former Sports Authority space, now occupied by Dick’s Warehouse Sale.

Still, increasingly, these spaces are going to more entertainment-related uses, said Gray, noting the arrival over the past several years of several such ventures that have taken rather large footprints at the mall.

For example, Planet Fitness and Altitude have each claimed 20,000 square feet in space formerly occupied by Babies R Us, she said, noting that both arrived just prior to the pandemic. Round1, which arrived around that same time, is also a large tenant, with 20 bowling lanes and a number of arcade games, as is Billy Beez.

 

What’s in Store

And these new ventures are thriving in these spaces, she said, adding that the mall’s location makes them easy to get to, and together, they make the mall a more attractive destination for families, who can package a visit to one or a few of those facilities, and then a stop for lunch, into a day at the mall during February vacation or any other time when being indoors in preferable.

El Burrito, a growing local venture

El Burrito, a growing local venture that took over space formerly occupied by Wendy’s, is one of several new restaurant options at the mall.

The Planet Fitness facility is in a different category, she went on, but it is also doing very well in this mall’s location. “It’s easily accessible … people go there before work and after work. Their membership is very comparable to their off-mall locations, and you can walk by there on a Tuesday afternoon and see lots of people there.”

Overall, the mall is in a better place than it has been in terms of square footage currently occupied, she said, adding that policies set by mall owner Pyramid Corp. did not permit more detail on that subject. And, by and large, it is in a good place when it comes to taking on the many challenges facing malls today, for those reasons mentioned earlier.

“We’re easily accessible off of 90 and 91, and we’re in a position to tap a much larger market than some of the regional properties that were or still are in the market,” she said. “And then having differentiators, like the only Macy’s, the only Apple, the only Best Buy in the market, that really sets us apart for retailers, restaurants, and entertainment venues looking for a new home. Having those traffic draws is very attractive to potential new tenants.”

Looking ahead as far as she can, Gray said the mall is positioned as well as any mall can be to absorb the many changes to the retail landscape.

Indeed, data shows that those who come to the mall — and she said it is still a good mix of young and old — are actually coming more often, because of all that now exists under that collection of roofs.

“People are coming more frequently because of the entertainment offerings and lifestyle offerings,” she told BusinessWest. “Twenty years ago, there wasn’t a Planet Fitness at your local shopping mall. Now that there is that option, people are visiting the property more.

“Those types of facilities are bringing a more eclectic mix of shoppers — all ages, all groups,” she went on. “And then, you have places like Altitude and Round1 and Billy Beez, where your families, your teens, they’re coming out for birthday parties, tournaments, or the different types of events they have going on. They’re coming, and they’re staying for a while.”

When asked about what the landscape will look like in five or 10 years, Gray said change will remain a constant — in retail and in entertainment — with up-and-coming chains in the former, and new experiences, such as next-level escape rooms, in the latter.

The goal at the Holyoke Mall is to be at the forefront of all of that, she said, adding that the facility has been there for the first 45 years of its existence, and she intends to keep it there.

 

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mall announced the addition of the shopping center’s fourth full-service restaurant, Monsoon Bistro, located on the upper level near Macy’s.

The locally owned and operated bistro combines traditional Chinese and Thai dishes to showcase the culinary landscape and region. The soft opening took place on Thursday, and the restaurant will host a grand-opening event later this month, with details to be announced.

The menu, designed to celebrate Southeast Asian cuisine, features dim sum, drunken noodles, mango chicken, red curry fish, and more.

Monsoon Bistro is hiring both front- and back-of-house positions including waitstaff, kitchen staff, runners, and busers. Those interested should visit the restaurant to apply.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — IT’SUGAR, one of the largest specialty candy retailers in the U.S., has opened a 2,400-square-foot candy store inside Holyoke Mall.

The Holyoke Mall location epitomizes what the brand is known for: hundreds of varieties of over-the-top sweets, humorous products, and immersive candy experiences from America’s beloved brands, including Sour Patch Kids, OREO, Nerds, Skittles, Reese’s, and Starburst. It also includes shops devoted to retro and international candy, TikTok-trending treats, and much more.

“IT’SUGAR is more than a candy store,” said Justin Clinger, assistant vice president, Creative and Marketing at IT’SUGAR. “We have one of the most expansive assortments of confectionery treats, alongside a curated collection of in-demand candy-licensed merchandise, such as apparel, plush, scented candles, and more. IT’SUGAR provides a sweet and humorous escape from everyday life.”

IT’SUGAR’s new store is located on the upper level in Center Court, next to H&M.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Job seekers across Western Mass. will head to Holyoke Mall to advance their careers during the Get Hired Job Fair on Wednesday, Sept. 27 from 2 to 5 p.m. on the lower level in Macy’s Court.

This accessible, multi-employer job fair features employers across more than 10 industries seeking candidates at all skill levels to fill both full-time and part-time positions. Candidates will connect with employers one-on-one for on-the-spot interviews and hiring.

More than three dozen Western Mass. businesses are attending this fall’s job fair, including

Aveanna Healthcare, Baystate Health, Berkshire Arc, CareOne at Northampton, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Florence Bank, Furnari Jewelers, Gap Factory, Golden Years, Griswold Home Care, Guidewire, Hannoush Jewelers, Head Start, Holyoke Fire Department, Holyoke Gas & Electric, Holyoke Medical Center, H&R Block Holyoke, KeyBank, the Literacy Lab, MassHire Holyoke, MetroCare of Springfield, MGM Springfield, O’Connell Care at Home, Pathlight, PeoplesBank, Round1, ServiceNet, Soto Home Care, Springfield Public Schools, TD Bank, US Army Recruiting – Springfield, Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital, Westfield Bank, Western Massachusetts Training Consortium,Westover Job Corps Center, Yankee Candle, and YMCA of Greater Springfield.

The Get Hired Job Fair is free for all job seekers and is sponsored by Springfield Public Schools, KeyBank, PeoplesBank, ServiceNet, Guidewire, and Rock 102.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Family-owned Mandati Jewelers celebrated its grand opening at Holyoke Mall on June 28 on the shopping center’s lower level near Center Court. The 2,423-square-foot space is the custom jeweler’s first Massachusetts location.

“We are so grateful to have Mandati Jewelers investing in Holyoke, investing in the Holyoke Mall, and providing luxury jewelry to the Greater Holyoke community,” said Jordan Hart, executive director of the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce.

Mandati specializes in certified diamonds, watch and timepiece brands, necklaces, charms, and other fine jewelry. The store is offering 30% to 50% off gold and diamonds and 25% off watches through July 31.

The New York jeweler’s custom jewelry clientele includes Buffalo Bills defensive end Carlos “Boogie” Basham Jr. and rappers Conway the Machine, Westside Gunn, and Benny the Butcher. Holyoke Mall is Mandati’s fourth store and joins locations in Albany, Buffalo, and Syracuse.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mall invites area businesses to connect with eager job seekers during its third Get Hired Job Fair, sponsored by HCS Head Start Inc. and Pathlight, on Tuesday, Oct. 11 from 3 top 6 p.m. on the lower level near JCPenney.

As the largest shopping destination in Western Mass., Holyoke Mall serves as a hub for the community, making it an ideal backdrop for employers to fill their open positions before the holiday season. Employers are invited to take advantage of this convenient opportunity to network with candidates at all skill levels and perform on-the-spot interviews and hiring.

The event is free to job seekers. Participating employers include Girls Inc. of the Valley, Holyoke Medical Center, WestMass ElderCare, the Positive Regard Network, YMCA of Greater Springfield, and more.

Interested employers should contact James Geraghty, Advertising manager, at (617) 840-2998 or [email protected]. For full details and information regarding the Get Hired Job Fair, visit holyokemall.com.

Daily News

 

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mall has welcomed, OneZo, with its unique house-made boba, to the shopping center. 

Boba tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink with sweet balls or “pearls,” made from tapioca starch and can be made from milk tea, green tea or fruit tea. Established in Taiwan in 2015, OneZo was the first café in the world to make their own boba in-store. Their goal is to serve the freshest boba drinks and use their creativity to develop new boba flavors. Some of the more popular flavors include Brown Sugar Bubble Latte, Hong Kong Style Milk Tea, Strawberry Slush Milk Tea, Grapefruit Green Tea, and Thai Tea.  

OneZo tea can be found in 17 countries and has several locations in Massachusetts including Quincy and Worcester. Holyoke Mall guests can experience freshly made bubble tea in their new location in Café Square. 

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mall will host an in-person job fair on Thursday, May 5 from 3 to 6 p.m. on the lower level near Macy’s. Sponsored by Valley Opportunity Council, the Get Hired Job Fair is a convenient opportunity for Western Mass. employers to interview and hire workers, and to help job seekers connect with businesses who need their skills.

Employers from a variety of industries will be in attendance looking for candidates at all skill levels. Several stores and venues at Holyoke Mall will also be in attendance to fill open positions. The event is free to attend for all job seekers. Employers that have already signed up to staff a table include MGM Springfield, Holyoke Medical Center, Springfield College, Trinity Senior Communities, and Valley Opportunity Council.

Employers interested in participating in the upcoming job fair should contact Jim Geraghty, advertising representative for Holyoke Mall, at (617) 840-2998 or [email protected]. For full details regarding the job fair, visit www.holyokemall.com/event/get-hired-job-fair.

Special Coverage Women in Businesss

Mall Star

Lynn Gray

Lynn Gray went from selling Holyoke Mall gift certificates at age 15 to running the facility as general manager.

Lynn Gray has truly come full circle, from attending the grand opening of Holyoke Mall as a newborn to her role as general manager there today. In a career spent in the shopping-center world, she has seen plenty of evolution and a few major challenges as well, the pandemic being the latest and perhaps most daunting. But current customer traffic and interest in available space tell her this is an industry with plenty of life, and she’s passionate about helping individual businesses succeed within it.

 

 

When Lynn Gray was two weeks old, her mother packed her up and took her on her very first outing — to the grand opening of Holyoke Mall in 1979, the center where she now works as general manager.

“How cool is that, right?” she asked.

The mall has certainly been a family affair; her mother worked there from its opening as an office manager, and her grandmother would later come on board as a customer-service manager.

“When I was 15, I started at the customer-service desk in the middle of the mall selling gift cards — well, back then it was gift certificates,” Gray recalled. “So that’s how I got into the shopping-center industry.”

It’s been a journey that has taken her across the Northeast and down the East Coast, but mostly at Holyoke Mall and Hampshire Mall, where she was general manager from 2016 until earlier this year, and is still serving in an interim role at the Hadley complex while a replacement is found. And, having been around shopping centers throughout her entire career, she’s seen plenty of evolution in the industry.

“It feels to me very cyclical,” she told BusinessWest, citing, as an example, the 10 years she spent away from Pyramid Management Group, which owns the Holyoke and Hampshire malls, as well as 12 other properties. Between 2006 and 2016, she was with General Growth Properties, taking on various marketing roles, eventually becoming marketing director for the East region.

“I was really focused on the East Coast and got to work with a lot of properties there, from marketplaces to smaller centers to super-regional centers in a variety of different markets. It was funny because, coming back to Hampshire Mall, where my management experience had started, I saw this evolution happening at the properties.”

“When I left them, I had just helped open Target and Trader Joe’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods and Best Buy,” she said by way of explanation — all of them big-name staples at shopping centers across the U.S. at the time.

“It was really a cool evolution. That seems to happen every so often, every few years, something fresh and inviting, when customers are looking for something new.”

“Ten years later, Best Buy had closed, and we had already replaced them with PetSmart. We were putting in a bowling alley; we were putting in a gym. So I saw the the transition from the early 2000s — from Kmart to Target to a variety of new big boxes coming in — and then, when I came back, I saw that cycle over to the lifestyle components like a Planet Fitness, like a bowling alley and an arcade. It was really a cool evolution. That seems to happen every so often, every few years, something fresh and inviting, when customers are looking for something new.”

Indeed, that’s the driving evolution in malls today, she went on — a move not necessarily away from retail, but complementing retail with more entertainment, experiences, and dining options.

“There’s been a lot of change even these last few years, and then, of course, COVID happened,” Gray said. “So then you see a little more of that cyclical stuff happening with the big boxes turning over and repurposing them for a variety of uses.”

And it’s not just a local phenomenon, she added. “I get to support leasing for all of our properties, so I’m not just focused on Hampshire and Holyoke; I get to see what’s happening across the Pyramid portfolio and across the industry. We’re seeing more hotels, we’re seeing apartments, we’re seeing shared office spaces in a lot of our properties. So it’s kind of cool to see it’s not just about a shopping center anymore, it’s about creating a lifestyle.”

 

Coming Home

Coming back to Hampshire Mall as general manager in 2016 was truly a full-circle event for someone who had built a career from the bottom up at the two local Pyramid properties. From her humble beginnings selling gift certificates at Holyoke Mall, she progressed in the mid-’90s to an office-assistant position at Hampshire Mall for a few years, which evolved into a marketing role. She returned to Holyoke in the late ’90s as assistant marketing director, then went back to Hampshire as marketing director before her stint with General Growth Properties.

“When I came back to Pyramid again,” she said of her hiring as general manager there in 2016, “it was like coming home.”

As for the recent evolution in the use of mall space, one that’s especially noticeable at Hampshire Mall, Gray said even individual tenants understand the trend.

“A lot of our partners in our tenant base have really gone out of their way to try to diversify their use,” she noted. “A great example is Pinz. You’re not just there for bowling; there’s also an arcade, there’s food, there’s dart throwing, axe throwing, all kinds of things. It’s about keeping people in these spaces longer, and that’s something we’re offering at all of our properties.”

That’s why both malls now feature a gym, bowling, and arcades, as well as shopping (including some big boxes, like Target, which is also featured at both). “We really are creating a destination for you to find everything you need. It’s creating sort of a downtown feel.”

No longer can mall managers cater only to people who want to stop in, get what they want quickly, and leave, even though there are still plenty of those. It’s about giving them more to do once they arrive and, therefore, more reasons to come in the first place.

“I think people have more choices today,” Gray said. “They have less time, more on their plates, they’re going in a million different directions, and creating a space they’re going to frequent more often because they’re not coming here just for shopping is critical, because it keeps us relevant; it keeps us top of mind.

“They’re not just going to Target to get their essentials, they’re coming here for a day with their family and going bowling, or maybe they’re coming several times a week because they’re visiting the gym. Or they’re having their birthday parties at Altitude,” she went on. “It’s a space that’s far beyond just a shopping destination. They’re coming more often and spending more time because they’re coming for a variety of different uses.”

Hampshire Mall in particular is no stranger to innovation. Gray credited the wisdom of its original owners, who built a shopping center on farmland in Hadley more than 40 years ago. The Route 9 corridor eventually exploded with much more retail, dining, and other amenities, fed by the affluent communities of Amherst and Northampton that bookend it, and, of course, UMass Amherst and other local colleges.

“We’ve been doing everything we can to support the small businesses. Here at the Holyoke Mall, 27% of our businesses are actually locally owned businesses or locally owned franchises.”

“Somebody had this idea that putting a shopping center there would be really successful, and it has been,” she said. “It’s very desirable real estate now.”

Still, no one in the shopping-center industry was prepared for the impact of COVID-19.

“The biggest challenge has been the uncertainty, which still resonates with a lot of us,” she said. “We’ve been doing everything we can to support the small businesses. Here at the Holyoke Mall, 27% of our businesses are actually locally owned businesses or locally owned franchises. Supporting those businesses, which were hit the hardest during the pandemic, has been something we’ve really tried to put our efforts into.”

That statistic surprises some people, she noted. “Some consider us to be the big-box destination and forget there are so many businesses in this center that are locally owned, here and at Hampshire, and I like to remind people of that. They live in your community, they’re supporting your kids’ schools and sports teams, and they also lease space at a shopping center. It’s not just about the big box and the large retailer.”

The good news, for tenants of all sizes, is that traffic numbers at the malls are up — not just from 2020, but from 2019.

“I think that’s a testament to people itching to get out,” Gray said. “They’ve been missing that in-person connection and getting outside their four walls, and we’ve been able to give them a reason to do that.”

And they’ve been, for the most part, gracious about safety protocols that still fluctuate between communities; in fact, Holyoke Mall currently recommends mask wearing, while Hampshire Mall requires it.

“They want to get out, so they’re going to do what they can to follow the rules so they can continue to frequent those businesses,” she added.

 

Leading by Example

Gray has long been active in the community, and for the past two years, she’s been president of the board directors at the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce.

“They were obviously two of the most challenging years for small businesses in particular, so being part of a chamber supporting them was really gratifying,” she said. “Being able to be in the trenches with the executive director and the board of directors and all the various committees that were supporting businesses staying open and surviving the pandemic … I’m really proud of the work we did there.”

She also serves on the board of the Amherst Boys and Girls Club — another family connection, as her mother served on the board of the Chicopee club for many years. She’s also a state ambassador in Massachusetts for CHERUBS, an organization that raises awareness and funds around congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a condition that affects newborn babies, including Gray’s own baby, who passed away seven years ago.

As the mother of a 19-year-old son, “I think it’s important to set an example for him that it’s not just about getting up, going to work, doing your job, and coming home at the end of the day — it’s about outreach and community development and being out there. It doesn’t just make you feel good, you’re actually doing good. I think it’s important to set that example for our future leaders as well.”

At her day job, of course, she supports businesses in other ways.

“It’s a little win every time we see a new business open, whether it’s an existing business or a small business just starting up. Pyramid is a leasing company; that’s what we do. We want to lease our spaces, we want to stay fresh and relevant, so every time we have a new tenant that’s opening up, we’re excited to share that news. I think it’s a testament to us as a developer that we’ve been able to celebrate so many new openings.”

Gray has heard the rumors over the years that shopping centers aren’t doing well, or are on the decline.

“But people still want to open businesses in successful centers. We’re seeing more and more walk-in requests to look at spaces. There was a time when the phone wasn’t ringing at all, but they’re starting to see that the trend is going up and people are craving being out and about and not just holed up in their homes anymore.”

She also loves working with existing tenants on ways to expand and market their businesses. “They really took a hit, so anything we can do to support the business and spread the word, anything we can do to keep the businesses going, I want to be part of that.”

Gray’s mother no longer works in the shopping-center world; she’s in residential real estate now. But she was very excited to hear her daughter was now general manager of Holyoke Mall.

“She said she’s really proud, and I said I’m really proud, because I went from selling gift certificates at the customer-service desk and answering phones to actually leading the charge for Western Mass.’s largest shopping center. I’m the first woman general manager at Holyoke Mall, and I’m really proud of that. I’m proud to share that story because maybe a little girl can hear that and know that you can start small, and if you grow and work hard at it, someday you can do this too.”

 

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mall will host an in-person job fair on Wednesday, Oct. 6 from 3 to 7 p.m. on the lower level near Macy’s.

Sponsored by C&S Wholesale Grocers, the Get Hired Job Fair is a convenient opportunity for Western Mass. employers to interview and hire workers, and to help job seekers connect with businesses who need their skills. Employers from a variety of industries will be in attendance looking for candidates at all skill levels. Several stores and venues at Holyoke Mall will also be in attendance to fill open positions. The event is free to attend for all job seekers.

The list of participating employees includes 110 Grill, Amherst College, Altitude Trampoline Park, Bath & Body Works, Best Buy, Billy Beez, C&S Wholesale, Charlotte Russe, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Express Employment Professionals, Guidewire Inc., Holyoke Medical Center, Holyoke Public Schools, Kind Hands Care at Home, Lane Bryant, Macy’s, McDonald’s, MGM Springfield, MiraVista Behavioral Health Center, MSPCC, Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub, Pathlight, PretzelMaker, Pyramid Management Group – Holyoke Mall, Sephora, ServiceNet, Target, UG2, Uno Pizzeria & Grill, and Yankee Candle.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — On July 12, Holyoke Mall welcomed Lynn Gray back to the shopping center as its new general manager. She brings more than 25 years of experience in the shopping-center industry. She has held various roles over her combined tenure with Pyramid Management Group, including customer service representative, receptionist, Marketing assistant, assistant Marketing director, Marketing director, and, most recently, general manager of Hampshire Mall.

In addition to her numerous years of experience with Pyramid Management Group, Gray held various roles over the span of 10 years with General Growth Properties, now Brookfield Properties, including director of Field Marketing for the East Region.

When asked what her goals are for Holyoke Mall, Gray said she is “committed to fostering strong relationships with the tenants and community as well as continue the development and support of a strong and seasoned mall team.” With her indepth background in all facets of the shopping-center industry, she also looks forward to being an integral component of the redevelopment process at Holyoke Mall.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Lynn’s capabilities and experience assume the position of general manager at Holyoke Mall,” said James Soos, director of Field Operations for Pyramid Management Group. “Lynn is enthusiastic and brings her vast knowledge and hands-on experience of working in the shopping-center industry to Holyoke Mall at a time when the center is poised for growth and will benefit from Lynn’s leadership.”

Gray is a graduate of Holyoke Community College with an associate degree in business administration. A lifelong resident of Western Mass., she is actively involved with several community and nonprofit organizations. She serves as president of the board of directors for the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and the board of directors for the Amherst Boys and Girls Club. She is also a CDH International Massachusetts ambassador and volunteers for CHERUBS, the support division of CDHi.

Bill Rogalski, outgoing general manager of Holyoke Mall, retired on June 30 after 19 years in the position.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Macy’s will open its first Macy’s Backstage at the Holyoke Mall on Saturday, Aug. 8. Macy’s Backstage, which will have 11 locations nationwide, will offer customers another way to shop by providing a store-within-a-store shopping experience.

Macy’s Backstage Holyoke Mall will have 12,600 square feet of dedicated retail space on the second level inside the full-line Macy’s, delivering a constantly changing assortment of merchandise. The selection includes both new and established brands in apparel for men, women, and children, as well as toys, housewares, home office, home textiles and décor, cosmetics, hair and nail care, personal protective equipment, pet accessories, kid’s shoes, designer handbags, activewear, and more.

“Our customers are excited about the Macy’s Backstage shopping experience, and we are thrilled to offer a strong assortment of in-the-moment fashion and great prices for each Backstage location and the community it serves,” said Michelle Israel, Macy’s senior vice president of off-price.

Shoppers can earn and redeem Star Rewards and use their Macy’s credit card at Backstage locations.