Morrie Mendenhall is still in his first year as the general manager of Market Place Mall, but he’s no stranger to retail.
Mendenhall, the former general manager of Tuscola Outlet Shops, took over as general manager of the Champaign mall in April, following the retirement of former general manager Dennis Robertson.
Mendenhall, 54, who lives in Mahomet, got his start in retail as the manager of the Reebok/Rockport shoe store at the outlet mall beginning in 1994, and five years later was named general manager of the outlet mall.
Before that, he worked in the restaurant business and was, in fact, the manager who opened the old Hardee’s at 1703 S. Neil St., C.
Running an indoor mall compared to a setting like the Tuscola mall means more internal spaces to consider, he said. But one thing does not change.
“The key, no matter which one, is the team you’re working with,” he said. “That makes all the difference in the world. I’ve been lucky in both places.”
Although it is his first holiday season managing Market Place Mall, Mendenhall said the holiday shopping season got off to a good start on Thanksgiving weekend.
He projects traffic to remain strong in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
In the meantime, for the next few weeks, the mall has a few holiday extras to keep you entertained:
- Head to Center Court at various times of the day for a festive snow show. The flakes “will fall into your hair for a perfect picture in front of the Christmas tree,” Mendenhall said.
See the snow show at 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, at noon, 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm every Saturday and at 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm every Sunday.
- Santa Claus has arrived and is available for pictures with his children. He will also be available for a few hours on December 5 to take photos with his pets (reservations recommended) and on December 8 in a sensory-friendly environment for children with special needs, by reservation only.
- Extended Shopping Hours Starting December 9: The mall will be open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve hours are from 9 am to 6 pm The shopping center will be closed on Christmas Day.(tncms-asset)73b24b1a-71c8-11ed-b484-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-active)
open new bookstore
As a former teacher who loves to read, Emily Brown saw a need for a bookstore in her home community of Hoopeston.
So she and her husband, Bob, opened one: Boxcar Books and Vinyl at 201 E. Main St., Hoopeston.
That is across the street from the 112 Wine and Coffee Shop that they operate.
Emily Brown said the bookstore has “a little bit of everything,” including new books for all ages, in all genres, plus comic books, record players, vinyl records, accessories and gift items.
The store opened on November 26 with a line waiting outside.
Store hours are 10 am to 6 pm Tuesday through Friday and 10 am to 4 pm on Saturdays.
Bakery takes off in Arcola
Abiud and Sandra Saldivar’s new bakery, Pandora Saldivar, at 206 E. Main St., Arcola is already a success.
“We have sold out every day that we have been open,” said Sandra Saldivar.
The bakery sells Mexican cakes, pastries, including special-occasion cakes, and the number one seller is conchas, which Sandra Saldivar described as a round sweet paper with sugary dough on top with flavors of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
Sandra Saldivar is the pastry chef and her husband makes the cakes, she said. They hope to hire another baker to help meet the demand, she said.
The Longbranch Steakhouse in Gifford has temporarily closed, from November 30th to December 10th, to clean up a bit and give the staff some time off.
Owner Donny Curtis, who bought the restaurant in 2015, said this is an annual temporary closure.
The restaurant will reopen from 4:30 pm to 8 pm on December 11 for the Gifford Holiday Parade and will reopen for regular hours beginning December 14.
The restaurant serves a variety of sandwiches, chicken, pork and shrimp dishes, but 90 percent of its business is steak, Curtis said.
lighting the way
Seymour-based First-Light USA has donated a batch of its tactical flashlights to the Piatt County Sheriff’s Office.
The company said that its T-Max LE is specially designed for law enforcement.
“As we head into 2023, we want to be more active in supporting our local communities, particularly the police and sheriff departments that serve us,” said First-Light USA CEO David O’Malley.
Hand-assembled in Seymour, First-Light USA lights are used throughout all branches of the US military and are also used by first responders, hunters and campers and others for everyday use.
Open new boutique
Monticello has a new place to shop for women’s clothing and accessories, Grace & Mae Boutique.
It opened on November 15 at 216 W. Washington St.
Owner Savannah Hatfield said the store mainly sells women’s clothing from sizes extra small to 3X along with accessories, including jewelry and pottery made by local vendors.
During the holiday season, store hours are 11 am to 6 pm Tuesday through Friday, 11 am to 5 pm on Saturday, and 12 am to 4 pm on Sunday.
Hatfield previously worked as a real estate agent in his native Michigan. Her husband is from Tolono and moved his family to Illinois in June to be closer to his family, she said.