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Last-minute shoppers hit the mall

December 24, 2005|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

It's now or never for last-minute Christmas shoppers such as Megan Nicholson.

"Oh my God, I just started my Christmas shopping and I'm nowhere near finished," Megan, 16, of Hagerstown, said Friday morning at Valley Mall. "I know it's kind of late. I've got two done and like 10 more to go. I'll probably have to come back out on Christmas Eve."

Megan wasn't the only one who waited until the last minute to get her gifts.

Christmas Eve is the mall's ninth busiest shopping day, with Friday - two days before Christmas - being the eighth busiest, said Julie Rohm, the mall's property manager.

Even Rohm said she had some loose ends to tie up. On her way to lunch Friday, Rohm passed some Baltimore Ravens paraphernalia at Bon Ton.

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"I have to go back to my office and get my credit card," Rohm said. "My husband is a huge Ravens fan."

Rohm was meeting with Jim McFaul, Bon Ton's general manager. When asked whether he was finished shopping, he said, "Are you kidding? Of course not."

Things could not be described as total chaos at the mall on Friday afternoon, but McFaul said that was because stores get the biggest surge of customers in the evening.

"People are getting off of work and want to finish up their shopping," McFaul said.

McFaul said the store's biggest Christmas sellers were sweaters, fragrances and things called candle warmers.

"You put the candle inside and it doesn't light it, it just releases the scent," McFaul said.

Hal Masters, 73, of Hagerstown, said he got to the mall at 9:30 a.m.

"I wanted to beat the rush," Masters said. "The corridors don't look so full, but you go into the stores. They're looking pretty full."

Masters, who was taking a breather at the food court, had several bags with him. When asked if he had finished up, he said, "All I'm going to do, yes."

By noon, even Santa looked like he needed a break. His face was almost the same color as his jolly suit. He had removed his cap and began fanning himself with what appeared to be a thin, wrapped package.

Nearby, a small girl clung to her father. Her face was pale with fear, as though she were about to start crying. But she didn't.

It took some coaxing to convince 4-year-old Charllotte McElligot to sit on Santa's lap. After a warm hug from Santa - preceded by longer ones from her father and mother - Charllotte sat down and gave a smile, briefly flashing some teeth.

Afterward, her mother Lynda McElligot, explained that it was Charllotte's first time seeing Santa.

"He knows if you've been naughty or nice," her father, Mike McElligot, told Charllotte. "He's been watching you all year long. He knows about all those nights you stayed up giggling."

That was enough to make the little girl smile.

Things were less jolly for Jessica Stokes, 16, and Megan Cline, 19, employees at Fashion Bug. The two were trying to finish up their holiday shopping before they started their night shifts.

"If you work in retail, people are so rude," Cline said.

"Yeah, it makes the day go by faster," Stokes added. "On Christmas Eve, people are more rude. They only have until 6 o'clock. That's really last minute."

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