Shoppers pack Valley Mall

Significantly discounted items helped drive people to the stores

December 18, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |
  • Nicole Forcini of Greencastle, Pa., carries a newly-purchased electric scooter through Valley Mall Saturday.
Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

Last year, on the Saturday before Christmas, Hagerstown was still.

A major snowstorm had relegated most people to their homes, where they could only try to dig out and wait for crews to clear the roads.

Meanwhile, retailers at Valley Mall lost out on the profits of what typically proves to be its busiest shopping day of the year.

This year was a different story.

Thousands of people poured into the mall Saturday, clamoring for hot items and sales events.

Michele Wills, Valley Mall's marketing director, said she was unsure how many shoppers visited the mall. But she was sure retailers were "very happy."

"Overall, the weather is good and the crowds here are huge," Wills said. "People are having trouble finding a place to park. It's inconvenient, but it's a sign of lots of shoppers in the mall."

Significantly discounted items helped drive shoppers to the stores.

"When the economy is strong, people are not as concerned with the lowest price," Wills said. "But right now, everything is 30, 40, 50 percent off. Look in the windows at Gap, Aeropostale, Radio Shack, Shenk & Tittle. There are discounts everywhere."

Such sales were not lost on Gene and Terri Dotson, 43 and 42, of Hagerstown.

"There are good deals going on, that's for sure," Gene Dotson said while he and his wife paused from shopping for a hot pretzel snack. "We just got a deal where we spent so much, then got so much off. We're gonna keep browsing and see what else we can find."

Alexandra Wiley, 22, of Williamsport, said the mall was a "madhouse." Wiley wrapped up her shopping early this year, but she and her boyfriend, Kelly Moats, 23, had gone to the mall with their 16-month-old daughter, Khloe, for a family portrait.

"I stopped at a store on the way to buy shoes for the picture," Wiley said. "I'm glad my shopping is done. These crowds are ridiculous, crazy."

Michael Smith, 35, of Waynesboro, Pa., was not concerned with finishing his shopping right away. He and his son Devonte Smith, 14, browsed merchandise in a jewelry store. Smith said he probably would pick out a platinum ring for his girlfriend, then go back to the mall to purchase it another day.

Though stores were buzzing with activity, shopper Stephanie Lindsay, 44, of Greencastle, Pa., said they seemed to be running efficiently. She was pleased to be able to stop for a quick threading hair removal process while she shopped.

"There are a good many people here, but the lines aren't too bad," she said.

Bob Moats of Greencastle, Pa., was at the mall with his daughters, Kaiden, 9, and Kendyl, 6. They picked up Willow Tree figurines and a Cricut scrapbooking machine for his wife, when the girls began to look beleaguered, standing with tired eyes and slumped shoulders.

"We had to come out and get some stuff for mama," Moats said. "It's looks like we've shopped 'til they dropped."

Wills said that's a positive sign to retailers.

"We are very optimistic about the holiday season this year," she said.

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