Shopping sequel

Shoppers return, look for bargains

Shoppers return, look for bargains

December 27, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

HAGERSTOWN - Shopping for bargains and exchanging holiday gifts is a day-after-Christmas tradition for Hagerstown resident Anita Long and her female descendants, they said.

Long, daughters Sandy Reeder and Krista Bowers, and granddaughters Allison Bowers and Ashley Reeder, were among thousands of shoppers who flocked to retail stores in Washington County on Thursday to take advantage of discounted holiday items and other sales, and to return Christmas presents.

The five joined the more than 24,300 other shoppers who had passed through the doors of Valley Mall in Hagerstown as of 3 p.m. Thursday, said Julie Simmons, the mall's marketing director.


The number of mall visitors is measured by a retail analysis company that posts cameras at each mall entrance and produces hourly reports. Due to computer problems, Simmons was unable to retrieve information on the number of shoppers at Valley Mall the day after Christmas last year, she said.

Thursday started out slower than normal at the mall - only about 2,700 customers had entered as of 9:30 a.m. - but picked up later in the afternoon, Simmons said.

Valley Mall was averaging about 4,700 new customers every hour by 3 p.m., she said.

Simmons and shoppers at the mall and elsewhere on Thursday morning said it didn't seem as busy this year as it has in years past - perhaps because of the snow that fell on Christmas day.

Vicki Rancher of Hagerstown was surprised to find fewer than 30 cars in the parking lot of Toys 'R Us in Hagerstown early Thursday when she went to the store to return one of the toys her young son received for Christmas, she said.

"Santa brought him five gifts and two were broken," Rancher said. "Isn't that a bum deal?"

Even the three return lines at the busy Wal-Mart Supercenter in Hagerstown - where Rancher was exchanging a faulty Power Rangers toy - seemed to be moving quickly.

"I got in and out a lot quicker than I expected," said Marcus Donnelly of Smithsburg, who returned an ill-fitting sweat suit that he found under his tree on Christmas day.

Instead of returning gifts, many of the customers at Borders Books Music & Cafe in Hagerstown on Thursday were buying themselves presents with the gift cards they got for Christmas.

"I don't know how many thousands of gift cards we sold this year, but it was quite a few," said Andy Wallace, manager of music and inventory at Borders.

Tamika Shaffer of Hagerstown left the store with two new compact discs to add to her steadily growing arsenal of hip-hop music, she said.

"I got a $25 gift card in my stocking," Shaffer said. "Free music is the best kind."

Don Haynes of Martinsburg, W.Va., set his after-Christmas sights on a ceramic Santa Claus barbecuing hot-dogs. The decoration, which was marked half-price at The Bon Ton in Valley Mall, reminded Haynes of himself, he said.

"I'm the griller in the family," Haynes said. "I kind of like this little Santa here."

After-Christmas shoppers at Michaels Arts & Crafts in Hagerstown filled their carts with deep-discounted holiday greenery, silk flowers and decorations. The store was offering up to 70 percent off selected merchandise.

"We had a great holiday season this year, and we'll probably get mobbed later today," store Manager Gary Rivers said.

Judy Plourde of Virginia, who was in Hagerstown visiting her son for the holidays, left Michaels with bags full of ornaments, garlands and other decorations.

"We're shopping today," Plourde said. "It isn't even noon and we've got the car pretty much full."

Kathleen Kaminski of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., took advantage of the sales at Michaels to buy decorations with which she will deck her mantle for a New Year's party. The garlands and decorative jeweled fruits in Kaminski's cart were half-price on Thursday, she said.

Jessica Thompson of Hagerstown also prepared for a New Year's party by stocking up on the bargain meats and cheeses at the Hickory Farms kiosk in Valley Mall. A line of customers wound around the kiosk, which offered 50-percent discounts for all the edible merchandise.

"I got here early so there would be some stuff left," Thompson said.

The cheese cooler at Hickory Farms was nearly empty by mid-morning.

Joan and Travis Herrald of Greencastle, Pa., did their part to clean out the half-price wrapping paper shelves at Target in Hagerstown. The couple left the store with a heaping cart of paper, boxes, ribbons and other holiday gift-wrapping accessories.

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