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Shopping rush far from finished

December 27, 2001

Shopping rush far from finished



By KEVIN VERZICH / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


It's not quite "Black Friday," but to many Tri-State bargain hunters, the first shopping day after Christmas is just as good, and in some cases, even better.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving which is recognized as one of the busiest shopping days of the year, and the first day after Christmas are known to shoppers for sale items and clearance specials at most stores.

Julie Simmons, marketing director for the Valley Mall in Hagerstown, said as of 3 p.m. Wednesday 26,800 shoppers had passed through the mall doors.

Simmons said those numbers are measured by a retail analysis company that posts cameras at each mall entrance and produces hourly reports.

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"Everyone is having a sale today," Simmons said. "The day after Christmas is typically our fourth- or fifth-busiest shopping day of the year. This year it is ranked fifth, unless we spike later in the evening."

Parking has been a bonus this year, Simmons said. Many shoppers are taking advantage of the many spots located behind the mall, instead of trying to fill up the front lots.

The busiest stores, Simmons said, have been the kiosks, the little center-hallway stores located throughout the mall. One in particular, Hickory Farms, had a line wrapped around its small space.

"Hickory Farms is offering customers 75 percent off its entire stock," Simmons said. "They are nearly sold out of everything."

The Hickory Farms store at the Martinsburg Mall experienced the same heavy flow of customers. The seasonal store was so busy, in fact, that the manager said she was too busy to comment.

Self-proclaimed career bargain shoppers Michele Showe of Hagerstown and Laura Frye of Inwood, W.Va., said their main purpose for shopping at the Martinsburg Mall Wednesday was to find those special bargains.

Showe said she was just beginning her task, but was sure she would be successful.

"I have only been to one store so far, but have already found bargains on Christmas merchandise," Showe said.

"I am a career bargain hunter," she added. "If there is a bargain out there, I will find it."

Frye said her main mission was to bring her son to spend his Christmas money. However, she too is a bargain-hunter and said she was keeping her eyes open.

"We prepare heavily each year for Black Friday," Frye said. "But the day after Christmas is more laid back and relaxed. If I stumble upon a bargain, I get it. If not, then ... oh, well."

Ken Castle, store manager of The Bon Ton in Martinsburg, said his store started the day with an early bird sale from 6 a.m. until noon. He said customers were flocked around almost everything in the store.

"We've had heavy traffic through the store all day," Castle said.

Many stores such as the Payless Shoe Source in the Martinsburg Mall were offering a "buy one, get second pair half-price" on its entire stock.

KayBee Toys was offering up to 70 percent off on selected merchandise. Ribbon's Hallmark had its Christmas merchandise marked up to 50 percent off.

Representatives from the Chambersburg Mall in Scotland, Pa., said post-Christmas sales there also were causing bargain-hunters to flock through their doors. In fact, managers at several retailers said they were too busy to talk.

In Chambersburg, Pa., Deb Witter, assistant store manager at the Kmart on Wayne Avenue, said returns and refunds haven't been that bad yet. She said one reason may be because many people were working Wednesday, but she expects a flood of customers over the weekend to return merchandise.

"We have our white sales and 50 percent off most of our Christmas clearance merchandise," Witter said. "We have been extremely busy, even with extra staff working the counters. However, it really hasn't been as bad as last year."

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