Retailer forces Capital Mall to change its tune about Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, traditionally a time for families to gather and celebrate over a good meal, was set to become a showdown between a retailer and Capital Mall in Olympia after the business refused to open on the holiday, despite facing a fine for choosing to stay closed.

But the mall, which was recently sold to an affiliate of Connecticut-based Starwood Capital Group, changed its tune Wednesday and will not fine The Mac Store, an independent reseller of Apple products that opened at the mall in 2011.

That was welcome news for Kevin Anderson, president and chief executive of The Mac Stores, which operates 10 stores mostly in Oregon, with four in Washington state, including Olympia. There’s also a store in Redmond and in Kent at Kent Station.

The company is based in Lake Oswego, Oregon, near Portland.

He said he was glad about the mall’s decision on Wednesday, adding that “it only makes sense.”

The amount of the fine was not disclosed.

Of his 10 stores, seven operate in malls, but he was facing fines at only two of them: Capital Mall and Valley River Center in Eugene, Oregon, he said.

“Enough is enough,” said Anderson who said that he reluctantly agreed to open his stores on Thanksgiving last year under the threat of fines.

But the decision grated on him, he said.

Anderson said he wishes shoppers would think more about the people who have to work on that day rather than simply the money they’re going to save.

“How many people aren’t with their families that day?” Anderson said.

The Mac Store typically employs 10 to 20 people, he said.

Elsewhere, reports of malls threatening Thanksgiving fines include Walden Galleria in Buffalo, N.Y. Snopes.com has a page devoted to whether Simon Malls are issuing fines.

Meanwhile, no Tacoma Mall stores will be fined if they choose not to open on the holiday. Most Tacoma Mall stores will be open during the established Thanksgiving hours from 6 p.m. Thursday to 1 a.m. Friday. The mall will reopen Friday at 6 a.m. and remain open until 10 p.m. Stores without an exterior entrance will typically follow the mall hours and open on Thanksgiving at 6 p.m., although a spokeswoman said there may be some exceptions.

Capital Mall will open at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving and remain open until 10 p.m. Friday, or 28 hours for that first stretch of holiday shopping.

“That’s the definition of insanity,” Anderson said.

Best Buy will open at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving, while Macy’s at the mall will open at 6 p.m.

Anderson said “big-box” stores are driving these earlier opening times, wanting more time to compete with the Internet.

He added that if you’re strictly in business to compete with the Internet, you’re in trouble.

“You have to have a value add that makes people want to come into your store,” Anderson said.

Anderson also said he was well aware of the fine because it’s something typically included in a lease with a mall, but before he signs his next lease, he is going to make sure there is a clause that allows him to close on a major holiday like Thanksgiving.

Capital Mall’s decision not to fine The Mac Store slowly unfolded Wednesday.

The Olympian either talked to or left messages with mall staff: marketing director Kayla Waldron and general manager Kevin Johnston.

The Olympian eventually was referred to a Minneapolis-based public relations agency Evans Larson Communications.

Shortly after that, mall staff apparently appeared at The Mac Store on Wednesday and told store manager Jim Sullivan that the business would not be fined.

Sullivan relayed that information to Mac Store officials.

“We are happy to hear that,” Mac Store spokeswoman Denise Slattery said.

Waldron followed up with a email late Wednesday.

“We cannot speak for our individual retailers, but we understand their business decisions,” she said. “There will be no fines levied for any retailers who choose to stay closed on Thanksgiving.”

Although closed on Thanksgiving, The Mac Store will open at 6 a.m. Black Friday.

Staff writer C.R. Roberts contributed to this report.