Shoppers cash in cards, seek bargains

December 26, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- Santa Claus wasn't in his seat at the Valley Mall Junction, and the American Red Cross wrapping station was bare, but shoppers still filled the mall Friday morning, some cashing in their gift cards and others taking advantage of after-holiday sales.

Valerie Malott of Williamsport said she saved 50 percent on everything she bought Friday morning -- some slacks, a calendar and shoes. The mall was not as crowded as she thought it would be, she said.

Malott said she tries to avoid the crowds and usually doesn't shop on major sales days such as Black Friday. She ventured out to the mall the week before Christmas and it was packed, she said.

About 40,000 shoppers had visited the mall last year on the day after Christmas, and a similar number was expected Friday, said Brian Kaltenbaugh, marketing director for Valley Mall. By Friday at 4 p.m., more than 35,000 people had been to the mall, he said.


"We're well on track to beat our numbers last year," Kaltenbaugh said.

The department stores opened early, with J.C. Penney opening at 5:30 a.m. and the others at 6 a.m. The rest of the mall opened at 7 a.m., but the busiest time was expected to be between noon and 2 p.m., Kaltenbaugh said. Friday's earliest shoppers brought in returns and exchanges, he said.

Customers lined up at the cash registers at Macy's and The Bon-Ton, some with items in bags waiting to be returned.

The expected tens of thousands of shoppers Friday didn't come close to other recent busy shopping days.

The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, brought in more than 74,000 shoppers, and the Saturday before Christmas was the mall's next busiest day, with about 55,000 shoppers, Kaltenbaugh said.

Judy Miller of Greencastle, Pa., shopped on Black Friday -- "Don't ask me why," she said -- and was back at the mall Friday. She had seen advertisements for Friday's sales and wanted to purchase a bedspread, which was next to her as she waited for her husband outside of Sears.

The extra savings had brought her out, but she "didn't come at 6 (a.m.) like some people, Miller said.

Adelle Wilson was waiting outside of Claire's Friday morning while her 13-year-old daughter spent a Visa gift card, gift money and allowance she had saved.

Wilson and her daughter, Katie, usually shop the day after Christmas because the prices are pretty good, she said. By 11 a.m., they had been to at least seven stores.

Wilson said she doesn't like crowds, but didn't think the mall was at all crowded Friday. She had been "looking around" Friday, but did most of her shopping this year on the Internet, she said.

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