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Holiday shoppers race the calendar

December 18, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

Kim Valko of Hancock had an empty shopping cart and two children to buy Christmas presents for Saturday afternoon.

"So much to do. So little Tylenol," she said, wandering the aisles of Toys R Us in Hagerstown.

Black Friday may get all the attention as the busiest shopping day of the year, but the last weekend before Christmas has a way of bringing out the crowds as well.

Tri-State area shopping centers said Saturday was probably one of their busiest days of the year.

Traffic was backed up in and around Valley Mall on Saturday afternoon.

"It's a madhouse," said Vanessa Banks, 35, of Martinsburg, W.Va., who was determined to find a Furby for less than $29.95.

Guiding Banks was her friend, Cathy Wetzel, 39, of Winchester, Va., who had finished her shopping but was tempted to keep buying things for her son.

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Ronnie and Doris Rowe of Waynesboro, Pa., were in search of the perfect Christmas gifts for their seven grandchildren.

Their heads were spinning at all the toy choices.

"Nowadays things move so fast. There's such a variety. It's kind of hard for grandparents to shop for kids," said Ronnie Rowe, 59.

Kristina Eyer, 31, of Greencastle, Pa., had some help picking out gifts for the little ones on her list.

Her son, Travis, 9, knew just what to get for his two brothers, she said.

Many people said they are just now finishing their holiday shopping.

Damon Wright, 24, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said Saturday was the only day he had left to finish buying for his two children and family members who are visiting from out of town.

"I'm almost finished. I'm happy," he said.

The crowds didn't seem to bother Doc and Sandy Stoner of Hagerstown, who were nearing the bottom of a long computerized printout of gift ideas.

Sandy Stoner, 47, keeps a computer file on each member of their family, showing their clothing sizes, hobbies and favorite colors.

Doc, a truck mechanic, said he doesn't have a favorite color, but don't get him white because it won't stay clean for long.

For Shawn Wagner and Richard Powell of Chambersburg, Pa., Saturday was their first - and last - toy shopping trip before the holiday.

Bewildered, they looked at a large display of Pokmon products, not knowing which toys their nieces and nephews already have.

"We have no idea. We're just walking around, seeing what everyone else is buying," said Wagner, 35.

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