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Gap Is Giving Away All Kinds of Free Stuff at Chicago O’Hare This Week

Is this a sign that brands are thinking more about airport shoppers?

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A Gap pop-up event at Chicago O'Hare Photo: Gap

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The holidays can be stressful, not least of all because of the packed travel schedule. Over the next month and a half, most of us will head to train stations, airports, or hit the highway to visit with friends and loved ones more than once.

And as if that's not anxiety-inducing enough, it’s also the time of year that brands take every opportunity to sell you as much crap as possible with a false sense of urgency — starting the week of Thanksgiving and not letting up until the post-Christmas sales kick in. (Have you noticed how many so-called “Black Friday” sales are already up and running?)

But today through Sunday, Gap is flipping that script. The mega brand is trying to de-stress the airport waiting game in one of the country's busiest travel hubs, Chicago O'Hare, with a pop-up in Terminal 1 that's not actually selling anything.

Instead, the brand just wants you to hang out, charge your phone, take some photo booth pictures, and maybe walk away with some free stuff. (Around 1,000 items will be gifted per day, including hats, socks, and gloves in Gap’s “crazy stripe” style.)

Though to be honest, most US airport shop rosters would be much-improved if they included more stores like Gap. Highlights such as LAX's Fred Segal, JFK's Muji, and yes, PHL’s Gap are few and far between; more often, it's no-name gift shops and luggage brands like Tumi (who are all these people buying luggage once they’re past security in an airport?) brightened up by the occasional Benefit kiosk.

According to the brand, Gap has no plans to open up any additional airport shops in the near future. But we're hoping the unusual event — to our knowledge, no other clothing brand has held a pop-up in an airport — is a sign that retailers are starting to pay more attention to shoppers in transit.