Standing Up to a Pandemic

In March 2020, most of the United States shut down to halt the aggressive spread of COVID-19. Case numbers were climbing, hospitals were overflowing, people were sheltering in place, indoor dining was suspended, and non-essential retail closed their doors almost entirely. Amid this once-in-a-lifetime crisis, the NewMark Merrill team coined the mantra, no tenant left behind, and immediately pivoted to establish a detailed and aggressive retailer assistance plan during this harrowing upheaval. A “Reopening Task Force” was promptly appointed to lead the charge every step of the way.


Taco Bell employees wearing PPE

Supply and Demand

The team’s first task was to seek and provide PPE for all properties, including face masks, hand sanitizer, plexiglass and other essentials mandated for operation. As scarce supplies were obtained, distribution centers were established based on properties’ proximity to one another, and sites were categorized based on size. Appropriate quantities were delivered to local teams in an expedited manner to ensure compliance was swiftly met.

Together We Can

Next, a clear and concise communication strategy was developed to ensure a sense of unity, support, community, and hope, while ensuring comprehension of the new normal. Together We Can messaging was utilized on property signage to convey safety, new operational procedures, and overall positivity during an extremely challenging time. The whimsical color palette visually conveyed a bit of hope and brightness to employees and customers alike. In total, more than 65 individual pieces were created, produced, and delivered to each property with minute-by-minute tracking of orders to ensure timely receipt and on-site implementation.

Together We Can artwork on sidewalk

Janss Marketplace Covid Guidelines Directory

Devonshire Covid Guidelines Directory

Communication was Key

With so many questions and uncertainty in the mix, NewMark Merrill unhesitatingly committed to providing frequent and clear tenant communication. This ranged from PPP loan application assistance to ever-changing safety and operating guidelines to promptly responding to individual challenges and circumstances. NMC was there for everyone.

Within 12 hours of the state mandated closures, a comprehensive and detailed database was established so each communication could be targeted based on property, city, state, and other meaningful criteria. More than 70 comprehensive communications were issued, maintaining a constant cadence so that the tenants felt ongoing and meaningful support.

In addition to tenant communication, the customer audiences were consistently apprised of the sometimes daily or hourly changes. An aggressive property email campaign informed community members about openings, safety procedures and curbside pick-up instructions. Social Media channels became a crucial, instant, and fluid line of communication – promoting take out services, sanitization procedures and simply thanking them for supporting small business.

Action by the Numbers


in funding

Aided tenants in securing almost $24.5 million in disclosed PPP funding



Marketing created 1,235 unique customer facing emails with 6.3 million customer touchpoints promoting NewMark Merrill tenants

2,646 gal

of sanitizer

Installed over 400 hand sanitizer stations on property filling them with 2,646 gallons of sanitizer solution



Supplied onsite team, customers and tenants with over 10,000 masks


collateral pieces

Created and installed over 65 carefully crafted collateral pieces to encourage complying with health & safety guidelines as well as providing a safe and secure shopping experience



Performed 11 customer surveys to gather actionable data for our tenants to best serve the customer and community


outdoor dining areas

Facilitated countless outdoor dining areas for restaurants to continue service and comply with state mandated guidelines


safe events

Entertained the community with 204 safe, socially distanced marketing events

Coming Back Better

As restrictions began to lift in 2021, the Reopening Task Force shifted its focus to the next set of challenges—operating post-pandemic. Their multi-pronged approach included robust vaccine awareness, support of tenant restaffing efforts, ongoing retailer and customer communication and continued investment in immersive outdoor experiences. Sales and traffic data was also recalibrated and distributed, so retailers could compare and analyze their performance against 2019, a more typical year.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic presented innumerable challenges and heartbreaking losses, the wisdom gained from this abrupt disruption was vast. The shifts implemented, large and small, have refined, improved, and enhanced the tenant and customer experiences at NewMark Merrill properties and will do so for years to come. The goal of continuing to aid center merchants, community members and employees as they strive to return to the new normal is of upmost importance.

Together We Can artwork

Now, we are a stronger and better NewMark Merrill.