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Day-after sales too hard to resist

Shoppers flock to Tri-State area stores on Sunday

Shoppers flock to Tri-State area stores on Sunday

December 27, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

It sounded and looked more like Christmas Eve than the day after Christmas, as shoppers from around the Tri-State area spent the day buying and exchanging gifts.

Marcela Buss was one of the first customers to arrive at Hecht's department store in Valley Mall.

"I was there when the doors opened at 6 a.m.," said Buss, who drove from Frederick, Md.

"There weren't a lot of people in the store. I wanted to get some extra gifts to send presents back with my son who, is visiting from Colombia," she said as she tried on a pair of winter gloves at the L.L. Bean store at Prime Outlets at Hagerstown.

By 10:30 a.m., Buss said she already had been to three shopping centers, but she was hardly alone.

After-Christmas shoppers created lines of bumper-to-bumper traffic and packed parking lots at several area shopping centers. Bill Lynn, general manager of Prime Outlets at Hagerstown, said the outlets opened at 10 a.m., an hour earlier than Sunday's normal 11 a.m. schedule, to accommodate the after-Christmas crowd.

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"This is the first year we've had the day after Christmas fall on the weekend since we've been open," Lynn said. "So we're expecting big crowds."

Store managers said having a paper receipt made merchandise returns easier for customers wanting cash refunds. However, store merchandise credits also were available to customers who didn't have receipts. Return and refund policies varied from store to store.

Shoppers like Roscoe Phillips of Martinsburg, W.Va., said his family didn't make any returns, but Sunday gave his family a chance to spend some Christmas cash.

"My daughter is spending money she got from her grandparents as a gift. They sent cash instead of gifts, which makes things a lot easier," said Phillips as he was leaving a local toy store.

Meanwhile, at Valley Mall, several customers found some sales too good to pass up.

Lines up to 10 people deep formed a half circle around the Hickory Farms kiosk, where prices were reduced by 50 percent.

"It's been crazy here. We've got a pretty good chance of selling out and we've already sold about $3,000 dollars in stuff today," said Tonia Murphy, kiosk manager.

Visiting from Fayetteville, N.C., Wanda Grimes and her daughter, Danielle, struggled to hold onto multiple shopping bags as they stood in line to take advantage of bargains at the Hickory Farms kiosk.

"I've got beef sticks and sub sauce," said Wanda Grimes with a smile.

"Shopping the day after Christmas is just a tradition. We do it every year," Danielle said.

While it's a tradition for the Grimeses, shopping the day after Christmas was a big pain for Baltimore teacher and Hagerstown native Mark Poole.

"My fiance dragged me here, otherwise I wouldn't be here," he said.

At the Kmart on Apple Harvest Drive in Martinsburg, W.Va., business was steady Sunday, with shoppers streaming into the store to return merchandise and to take advantage of price markdowns, said Assistant Manager Lori Rubio.

Shoppers were taking advantage of deals like 50 percent off Christmas wrapping paper prices, Rubio said.

"It was pretty hectic earlier in the day," Rubio said Sunday night.

Martinsburg-area retailers said business was steady Sunday, but not overwhelming.

Sunday was no day of rest for Sam and Janel Kauffman of Chambersburg, Pa., who searched from before sunrise to after sunset for post-Christmas bargains.

"Actually, most of what we bought today was for next Christmas," Sam Kauffman said while shopping at Carriage House Gifts at 2005 Lincoln Way East. Friends and relatives of owners Lysle Cisney and Betty Schroeder took advantage of the close-out sales before the public gets another crack today.

"We have kids and kids have Sunday school teachers, bus drivers and teachers," Kauffman said when asked for whom he was shopping. "We knock a lot of it out on Black Friday," he said of the day after Thanksgiving, another big day for bargain hunters.

Kauffman said he had been at Wal-Mart, Chambersburg Mall, Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts and Blockbuster Video, among other stores.

"I spent several hours in there buying goodies," Paula Stepler of Fayetteville, Pa., said of Wal-Mart. While she bought Christmas wrapping paper and other sale items, she also had to return a gift she bought there because "my sister-in-law already had one."

Stepler said she also had been to Valley Mall, Target and other stores in Hagerstown before ending up at Carriage House Gifts.

"I got a little bit of Christmas money, so I figured I'd go out and get some of the things I didn't get for Christmas," said John Kennedy of Chambersburg as he loaded a vacuum cleaner and other purchases into the truck of his car in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

Gina Straley of Chambersburg came out of Wal-Mart with plastic storage containers in which to store her Christmas decorations. It seems her daughter and shopping companion, Lindsay, got a lot of Straley's old storage containers when she went to college.

"I'm a sale shopper," said Straley, who also had been to Chambersburg Mall. "I continually go out looking for the best deals."

Staff writers Dave McMillion and Don Aines contributed to this story.

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