Gap, Inc., which operates Old Navy, Athleta, and Banana Republic as well as Gap-branded clothing stores, factory outlets stores, and websites, sold $130 million worth of face masks during the three months ended August 1, CNBC reports.
Some of the sales were to government customers such as the state of California and the city of New York. Overall, though, this seems a good example of how the flexibility, incentives, and creativity of capitalism are helping America fight the coronavirus.
If the federal government had tried to set up a user-friendly website and warehouses to deliver customers face coverings in the size, style, and fabric color and pattern of the customer's choice, it almost certainly would have been a disaster. Companies like Gap, and even bankrupt Brooks Brothers and J. Crew, are already set up to do similar things, and could move into the mask business quickly using skills, supply chain, and infrastructure that was already at least partially in place.
I was going to joke that now we just need a way to harness the private sector to make sure people have the things on rather than under their chins, dangling from one ear, over just their mouth but not their nose, or forgotten at home or in the car. Actually, though, some businesses are doing precisely that by asking their employees or customers to wear the masks properly.