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Bargain hunters fill malls in W.Va., Pa.

December 27, 2005|By DON AINES

TRI-STATE

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Bargain hunters on the trail of deep discounts stalked the concourses and aisles of malls, shopping centers and big-box retailers Monday, giving a boost to the bottom lines of area businesses holding sales the day after Christmas.

"We've made Chambersburg green," said the appropriately-named Shirley Noel of Lanham, Md., who was with a posse of 10 shoppers at Chambersburg Mall, including relatives Bonnie Diehl, Martha Minor and Nancy Garman of Shippensburg, Pa.

"We just brought our Christmas money and said, 'Bargains, here we come,'" said sister Nicki Noel, also of Lanham. She had nothing in particular on her shopping list, but "anything that's 50 percent off or better" was fair game.

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The popularity of gift cards and the lure of big savings from post-holiday sales has changed the way many people shop, making the day after Christmas a part of many people's holiday shopping strategies.

"We purposely don't spend as much before Christmas because we're waiting for after Christmas," Nicki Noel said as one of their group, 2-year-old Anna Pinchen of Houston, rode a mechanical horse at a concourse arcade.

Their group had gone to downtown Chambersburg, but found many of the businesses closed. Before coming to the mall, they hit a Kmart and Christian Light Bookstore and had bags of merchandise from Value City, The Bon- Ton, Bath and Body Works, Sears and Hallmark from their mall excursion.

A variety of cell phone ring tones filled the air as some shoppers consulted with family members who chose not to take part in the expeditions.

Jesse Killian of Shippensburg said she and her sister, Sheena, communicated by cell phone with their brother and father to see if there was anything they could pick up for them.

"They sit at home and wait for us to do it. ... They give us the money and we get them what they need," Sheena Killian said. Nevertheless, several of the shopping bags they carried were from stores catering exclusively to women.

"Dad said we could stay up here till it closed," Jesse Killian said. By 2 p.m., they had already been shopping for six hours.

Connie Strait of McConnellsburg, Pa., was in the Wal-Mart parking lot with her husband and two children, pushing a pair of shopping carts full of purchases to their vehicle. Some of her Christmas wishes had been granted more than once and "I had to trade a lot of stuff," she said.

If they had anything to return, Jim and Miranda Beaver of Chambersburg said Monday was not the day to do it at Wal-Mart.

"The line is huge in there. There's no way I'd stand in that line today," Miranda Beaver said.

Jim Beaver said they were taking advantage of the sale to stock up on items for Christmas 2006 - decorations, lights and wrapping paper among them.

In West Virginia, shoppers were buying holiday-related items that are typically marked down in price following Christmas.

Waneta Henderson of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., had an armload of Christmas wrapping paper as she left the Wal-Mart along U.S. 340 north of Charles Town, W.Va., Monday afternoon.

Henderson said prices on Christmas wrapping paper typically are marked down 50 percent after Christmas, and she is always out in the stores stocking up after the holiday.

But that was about it for Henderson's shopping activities and she planned to head home.

"We're cleaning out toy boxes and making room for the new stuff," Henderson said.

Henderson made her way through the Wal-Mart parking lot, which was full of cars and shoppers the day after Christmas.

Debbi White was also out buying Christmas wrapping paper Monday. White, who was shopping at the Charles Town Plaza along U.S. 340, said she also planned to buy gift-packaged bath and food items, which she said are typically marked down after Christmas.

White, of Harpers Ferry, said she buys the packaged sets, then gives them away as birthday presents to friends throughout the year.

Fenton Rinker of Charles Town said he was "just out" as he headed to the Charles Town-area Wal-Mart.

"I decided I needed a few extra batteries. Other than that, (I'm) bored at home," Rinker said.

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