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Christmas shopping in July

A bargain hunter never rests - not even six months before holidays

A bargain hunter never rests - not even six months before holidays

July 25, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Exactly six months remain in the Christmas countdown - but Judy Cline has her holiday shopping all wrapped up.

She started hunting for bargains at last season's after-Christmas sales, stocking up on such gift fixin's as red-lined ribbons and wrapping paper. Cline asked family members for wish lists before spring's bulbs bloomed. And she's been scouring yard sales for worthwhile finds - a Battleship game for 25 cents, gently used snowboard for $1, portable CD player and remote-control car for $3 each, a musical keyboard for $5 - just about every Saturday since April.

"I could probably stop now, but I could go up to Christmas Eve if I see something I like," said Cline, 55, of Inwood, W.Va. "I just constantly look for things. I look for brand new things that have never been opened. I try not to pay full price for anything."

The seventh-grade math teacher sums her year-round shopping up to simple economics: "That way it doesn't hit me so hard."

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Beating the holiday shopping rush also helps Cline avoid back-ordered items, she said.

"Children don't understand that," she said.

Early bird gets the iPod


Local retailers said early Christmas shoppers have the right idea - especially with regards to securing merchandise that's expected to top holiday sales charts.

"I guarantee that DVD camcorders will be very hot this Christmas," said Chris Snider, sales associate at Best Buy in Frederick, Md.

He said the store's Sony DVD camcorder customers had to wait about three months for their new toys, which run about $900 each, to arrive. Nikon Coolpix digital cameras, which range in price from about $150 to $1,000, also are flying off shelves, Snider said.

Nintendo's enhanced Game Boy Advance SP, Game Boy Advance GBADS, will likely be the No. 1 holiday gift item at Toys "R" Us in Hagerstown this Christmas, said Ray Henderson, who manages the store's R-Zone.

Despite their starting price tag of more than $200, Apple's new iPod mini - in such colors as pink and lime green - is expected to score big this holiday season, said Ben Henning, manager at Circuit City in Hagerstown.

Henning said he also expects great sales for the latest versions of two classic video games after their fall releases: "The Legend of Zelda" for Nintendo's GameCube and "Grand Theft Auto" for PlayStation 2.

Video-game junkies are eagerly awaiting the upcoming release of new Xbox games "Halo 2" and "Fable," said Steve Thomas, sales associate at the local Toys "R" Us store.

It's a sure bet that the soon-to-be-released DVD versions of "Star Wars Trilogy" and Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" likely will sell well this holiday shopping season.

And many youngsters might look for Boohbahs - talking stuffed toys based on the characters in PBS's exercise show for preschoolers - under the Christmas tree, Henderson said.

While gift-buying procrastinators are scrambling to buy these and other presents, Judy Cline will be wrapping hers up.

"I just shove everything under my guest room bed when I get it. Then when it comes time to wrap, it's like Christmas for me," she said.

Freelancer Becky Jefferies contributed to this story.

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