Last-minute shoppers hit the stores

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Electronically and personally, Nancy L. Brown and Patricia Haggerty get together often.


“We’re good friends, but I like to say we’re sisters,” said Brown, of Hickory. “We talk with each other all the time.”


Strolling through Washington Crown Center Saturday afternoon, lugging oversize bags and window shopping, they maintained a leisurely pace amid the beehive of activity that surrounded them. Although they aren’t related, Haggerty and Brown shared a kinship between them and with the hundreds of others at the mall on this day: that of the last-minute holiday shopper.


No, Christmas gift-buying for many people does not end with a click of a computer keyboard in early December, or in a frenzied big-box store on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, or on Labor Day even. Saturday at Washington Crown Center proved that as long as the clock keeps ticking – and it will until Monday evening – consumers will shop.


Haggerty, of Washington, rarely waits until late. “I usually start my Christmas shopping in June and I’m usually done by Halloween. But I just finished a week ago.”


Brown said she simply “had been putting things off this year. I finally got my Christmas cards done recently. I haven’t seen Santa yet.”


She was shopping for her son and daughter-in-law, Jason and Emily Brown of Bunker Hill, W.Va., and their two children. She won’t see them until the day after Christmas, when they arrive to celebrate her birthday.


Carol Broderick of South Franklin Township was scurrying, but it was to meet someone. She had just erased the last gift on her list.


“I got a call from my aunt,” Broderick said. “She needed me to find Nativity sets for her three grandchildren, and the youngest wanted one with a baby Jesus in a barn – the thing that Christmas is really about. I looked in a lot of places and finally found it at Macy’s.”


Christy Meeks said she prefers to shop early for the holidays, but she and her daughter, Melissa Kimmey, 17, didn’t start until 11:30 a.m. Friday. The Buffalo Township duo were catching up, each carrying bags an hour later.


Shopping wasn’t smooth, Meeks said, but it wasn’t a full-fledged hassle.


“It’s a little crowded and we’re finding what we want,” she said. “We’re walking around fine, but when you go to pay, the lines are long.”


At least it wasn’t Christmas Eve.


“We wouldn’t do that,” Melissa, a junior at McGuffey High School, said chortling.


Carol Allman usually wraps up her Christmas shopping around Dec. 1, well before many wrap presents. But tragedy in her family during the year, she said, quelled her enthusiasm until Saturday. She arrived at Crown Center at 9 a.m., and four hours later, she had “spent enough to make a downpayment on a house.”


Although she lives in Wellsburg, W.Va., Allman said she prefers Crown Center to retail venues closer to home, in Steubenville or St. Clairsville, Ohio.


“I often shop here for Christmas,” she said. “I like this mall. With the exception of one store, everyone has been very nice.”


While the vast majority at Crown Center were motivated to buy for friends, co-workers and loved ones, Christine and David Rice and their three daughters were there to – of all things – relax at a busy mall.


“We really don’t need to get anything,” Christine said. “We were coming out to stretch our legs.”


She said she, her husband and daughters, Erin, 16, Emerson, 11, and Emily, 9 – students in the Avella Area School District – finished their shopping last week. Some of it was on-line.


“We just wanted to get out of the house.”


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