Weary holiday shoppers at the Jefferson Valley Mall are in for a refreshing surprise as they take the escalator to the second floor near the mall’s food court this December.
Mixed among the mall’s food court standbys is a new holiday pop-up from Peekskill Brewery, where beer lovers can pick up cans and merchandise, or just sip a fresh-poured draft beer.
“People are amazed and can’t believe they can get a beer while shopping,” Peekskill Brewery’s Morgan Berardi said with a laugh. “We like to say it makes the holiday shopping a little more painless.”
Berardi is a partner in the brewery, along with her brother Keith and sister-in-law Kara. She took a quick break from running the pop-up to talk with the Business Journal as Christmas tunes played in the background.
The pop-up offers three of the brewery’s beers on draft, plus a cider from Newburgh’s Graft Cider. You can drink — so long as you stay within the food court. Grab and go options include beer in cans, brewery-branded stickers, T-shirts, coozies, glasses and growlers.
Alexa O’Rourke, the general manager at the Jefferson Valley Mall, said the on-site brew is part of an ongoing effort from its ownership, Washington Prime Group, to “transform the mall into the community hub, town center that it is.” Partnering with Peekskill Brewery, she added, helps create a local vibe aimed at attracting wider demographics to the mall.
The brewery and mall had already worked together earlier this year on an event called Boo ‘n Brew outside the Jefferson Valley Mall a couple weekends before Halloween. Peekskill Brewery poured beers outside of Macy’s while the mall organized a costume contest and trick-or-treating. Ford Piano — which has a mall storefront — provided music.
When O’Rourke approached the brewery again for the holiday pop-up, Berardi said the brewery saw it as a natural fit. “Me and Keith grew up coming to the Jefferson Valley Mall, so it was kind of an easy, no-brainer for us to come for the holidays.”
The brewery — based out of its taproom and restaurant on South Water Street near the Peekskill train station — often does this style of grassroots marketing. They pop up, so to speak, at festivals and beer tasting events that last for a day or weekend. But this is the first extended venture into a retail location, Berardi said.
The brewery celebrated 10 years in operation this fall. Peekskill started canning its beers for retail sale in 2016. The Jefferson Valley pop-up represents “part of our natural transition into trying to promote our cans.” Cans for sale at the time of the Business Journal’s visit included the brewery’s popular Eastern Standard IPA and Super Stario IPA.
The Ohio-based Washington Prime Group bought the roughly 550,000-square-foot mall from Simon Property Group in 2015. A year later, the company started on a $40 million renovation plan for the more than 30-year-old mall. The exterior has been upgraded and a former cinema has been converted to a Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Within the time frame of the renovations, the Jefferson Valley Mall has celebrated openings from brands such as Ulta Beauty and Bath and Bodyworks. This year, Stone Rose Steakhouse Sushi and Lounge opened a 6,000-square-foot restaurant on the ground floor. The mall saw other new openings in a Verizon Wireless location and from Home Pie Signature Pizza. Orange Theory Fitness is expected to open up soon as well.
But the mall will soon have a large vacancy when anchor tenant Sears moves out. The Jefferson Valley location is one of 142 stores nationwide that Sears Holdings Corp. announced would close by the end of the year. The announcement came as the company filed for bankruptcy in October.
The Sears location is owned and operated independently of Washington Prime by Seritage Growth Properties, a spinoff real estate trust of Sears assets. The company has received approval from the town of Yorktown to allow fitness and health club uses on the property. Seritage wrote in a third-quarter public filing that part of its Yorktown property will be redeveloped with a 24 Hour Fitness club and additional retail space by the end of 2019.
The efforts at making the mall into the type of community center O’Rourke describes were apparent on a visit the first weekend of December. That morning, the mall offered a “Breakfast for Santa” for children and hosted afternoon crafts by Pizzazles, a Crompond-based children’s party and creativity class planner. On Dec. 15, the mall and Peekskill Brewery will team up to host an “Ugly Sweater” party with a DJ, games and drinks from the brewery in the food court.
“We’re letting go of the use of the word ‘mall’ and really emphasizing the community aspect of it,” O’Rourke said. “We’re here to bring in different activations and daily programming and all that fun stuff.”
The pop-up is open 5 to 10 p.m. every Friday and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 24.