How Capital Mall is Handling Black Friday During a Pandemic

Safety at the mall during Black Friday.


A sign at an empty mall advertises for Black Friday.

Jackson Sawatzky, Writer

Full disclosure, I am employed at American Eagle Outfitters and was invited back to work in late June 2020.


Anticipating Black Friday and holiday shopping in the coming weeks, tenants at Capital Mall are taking a variety of approaches to sell their product this year. Given the situation that Washington state and the rest of the nation is in, taking a look at one of the leisurely activities, maybe in this case a competition, will allow us to see the impact of the situation in our community. Back in March of 2020, co-workers at Capital Mall said their goodbyes for what they thought would be only two weeks. What lay ahead would be a 3-month closure for nearly all tenants that currently occupy the mall. COVID-19 brought non-essential businesses and the economy to an all time low. American Eagle Outfitters was one such business, and reopened in late June with many precautions to combat the spread of COVID-19.


Abi Sparks, Sales Lead at American Eagle says, “masks…and probably steaming go-backs” are some of those restrictions that have affected the store. “They have their positives and negatives depending on how you look at it. Positives for masks, just because they’re keeping other people safe and us safe. Positively for sure.” 


Catie McFarland, Senior at Capital High School and Brand Ambassador at American Eagle, expanded on some of Spark’s thoughts. “We wear gloves when we handle money and also steam [clothing] after it’s been tried-on or returned. We also wipe down all the counters and the fitting rooms after they have been used.”

She added that these precautions seem necessary to her “because of the situation in the world right now and we are still trying to keep a normal atmosphere to work but with all the different precautions. I think that’s working really well.”

When asked if she thinks it is safe for people to go shopping in-person, McFarland said that, “If someone doesn’t feel comfortable with it, they’re obviously able to order stuff online. But if someone feels comfortable, I know personally for our store we have our fitting rooms open, but a lot of other stores have them closed for the ease of running the store. Personally, I think it’s safe enough at American Eagle.”

In light of these precautions, Black Friday is up and coming. This will be McFarland’s first Black Friday working and she thinks it will be “quite hectic. Having to get through a lot of people really quickly, but making sure that everyone is accommodated and just making sure everyone is happy and getting what they want while still keeping everyone safe.” 


Sparks also shared what she expects to see this year on Black Friday, “Well, obviously we have a limit to how many guests can be in the store, so I think there is probably going to be a big line. But, we’ve put in some measures to make sure that we are efficient with that, so we are going to have people outside doing gift cards and returns. We are going to have mobiles for credit cards and all that and cash will be at registers so we’re trying to prepare as best we can.”

Sparks agreed with McFarland in terms of safety, “Yes, with all of the guidelines that we have it is definitely safe, just make sure that you’re wearing your mask, social distancing, and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer whenever you can. But it is definitely safe, we have a lot of safety measures out there to make sure our guests are safe and healthy, and we are too.”

Sparks finished by saying, “Please be nice to the associates working. We are taking our day to ensure that you are having a great shopping experience. But also, take advantage of those deals, because they be poppin’! Stay safe out there.”

As of Monday, Governor Inslee has issued yet another stay at home order due to a rising number of cases in COVID-19. The order has raised concern in Capital Mall as most businesses may not see 25% capacity as a viable option going into the holiday season. Although, American Eagle as with other mall tenants plan to remain open through the month-long stay at home order as the holiday season is the mall’s busy season where they make the most profit.