Parking at the shopping mall can be challenging at any time of the year, but during the holiday season, it takes time and a certain amount of work to find a good spot. There are lots of cars, new rules and entrances, so forgetting where the car is happens more than once.
At Tysons, there are 11,500 parking spaces, divided between a few multi-level parking garages and open air lots. The valet parking specialist at the valet lot right outside Nordstrom can’t keep tabs on everyone, so he focuses on the clients that pay the $10 Holiday Parking special to use his lot. “They keep asking me, they don’t know where they parked,” he said.
Diane Peratt came in from Leesburg and didn’t balk at the $10 special. “I’m very short on time,” she said, as she looked around at the big roped off area that was empty on a Wednesday afternoon. “I’m glad they have this option, this number of spots is a bit much,” she added.
Over at Springfield Town Center, the number of shoppers waxes and wanes during the week, but the weekends are big, said Hayden Basse, a college student that operates the valet stand at Springfield. On one evening shift in early December, he parked 75 cars in either the 15 spots up front or the auxiliary lot that is off along Loisdale Road. “You get a lot of families, especially in colder weather,” Basse said.
Joshua and Jessica Ball are new to the area, but have been to Springfield Town Center a few times. “It’s a nightmare on Fridays and Saturdays,” Joshua Ball said. Parking on the weekends craziness is no secret, but Basse is happy to help out, saying: “Our job is to provide convenient parking to the mall and restaurants,” he said. Basse gets the shopper’s cell phone number upon arrival, enters it in his iPad and when the customers are ready, a signal is sent and Basse retrieves their car. “Makes it super quick,” he said.
Valet spots are $6 at the Springfield Town Center and $7 at Tysons Corner, but in the Nordstrom lot, the $10 Holiday Parking Special includes money-saving coupons.
Nordstrom employee Christina Curtis never has a problem even in the holiday season. “There’s plenty of spaces, eventually you do find a parking space,” she said, but has seen the shoppers that can’t find their car at the end of the day. “A lot of people get confused with the exits, they don’t know where they parked,” she said.
The Tysons security office is always helping find cars. “We do that a lot,” said Security Officer Rivas.
To accompany all the specialty shops that open and close around the holidays, there are a number of specialty spots for restaurant patrons, electric vehicles, pregnant women, military veterans and big spenders. What’s an average Joe to do in situations like this? Go to the back of the lot, hope for a spot, and take the hike back to the shopping center, keeping an eye out for drivers who aren’t being attentive.
Becca Willcox, the Tysons events and communications manager, noted that there are a certain number of spaces dedicated to electric and hybrid vehicles, valet parking and 20 VIP spots for their top 50 money spenders. On the weekends in December, there are “parking directors,” maintaining order around the lots and for the speciality spots, the Tysons security “patrols them to make sure they’re [specialty spots] being used correctly,” Willcox said.
Parking lot safety is another concern around the holidays. The Fairfax County Police Department has a Christmas Anti-Theft Team, known as the CATT, “watching for people breaking in cars and taking merchandise,” said officer Bob Otten.
According to the police, “over the 2016 holiday season, our teams collectively recovered over $315,000 in stolen property and seized assets.” In addition, there are police officers in the lots keeping the peace and making sure cars are not blocking the fire lanes or illegally parking in the disabled parking spaces, noted with the blue signs. “We ask them to move along,” he said. It’s a $50 ticket if they don’t, said Otten.