KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ashley Ciechomski loves Black Friday – and this year, Black Friday turned into an entire week. But instead of trying to beat last year’s numbers as a Kohl's store manager, she's focused on making this year comfortable for customers.
Ciechomski manages the store in Olathe, which invited 41 Action News inside to see how it’s preparing for the holiday shopping season.
As with just about anything during 2020, holiday shopping will be different at the department store due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The store's Black Friday discounts have been available all week – from the Sunday before and ending on Black Friday. This way, shoppers don’t rush the store at once when local health guidelines recommend social distancing.
“People can come in and shop with the same groups and keep the same tradition and keep that same excitement that they always have, but it’s on such a lesser scale because it’s all week long, which feels so good,” Ciechomski said.
But the store is closed Thanksgiving Day. Kohl’s and many other national retailers will close on the holiday for the first time in years. Black Friday sales had steadily creeped earlier and earlier into Thursday.
To keep the doorbuster-style tradition alive, Kohl’s is offering a few in-store deals only available on Black Friday. Ciechomski said Powerbeats Pro by Dre, wireless earphones, will be the hottest item on sale Friday only.
“Particularly this year, more than really any other year, it’s become important to kind of maintain a tradition with comfortability,” Ciehomski said.
The staff at Kohl’s have perfected new health and sanitation procedures in the months since reopening after spring’s stay-at-home orders. Ciechomski walked a 41 Action News crew through the store’s procedures:
- Signage is everywhere encouraging people to maintain social distance;
- Plexiglass at cash registers builds barriers between cashiers and customers;
- Cashiers wear gloves and disinfect the register area between every customer;
- Employees sanitize carts between uses;
- The store requires everyone to wear a face covering while inside.
“It has become a routine, and a routine I don’t think will ever change,” Ciechomski said. “It feels right to do what we’re doing.”
One last change is the addition of curbside pickup. Customers can now order items online, drive to the store where an employee will bring out all their purchases and place them in the customer’s car. It’s a contactless method to provide items without waiting on deliveries. Ciechomski said the service has caught on so much that her store has expanded the number of parking spots reserved for curbside pickup.