12/23/05 — More shopping? There's still hope

View Archive

More shopping? There's still hope

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 23, 2005 1:46 PM

Waited until the last minute to do your Christmas shopping? There's still hope, local retailers say -- you just have to be a little more creative.

At Hollywood Video, Melody Baker, shift leader, said gift cards are very popular purchases. They can be used to rent a movie or video game, or to buy a previously viewed DVD.

Gift certificates can also be used toward goods and services people need on a regular basis - groceries, gas or a range of services from car oil changes to manicures, pedicures or a massage. Perhaps a book of stamps tucked in a box of stationery, or a restaurant gift certificate.

If you know someone who enjoys a particular magazine, it's not too late to offer a gift subscription. Simply buy the latest copy of the publication with a note attached saying a subscription is coming.

Bookstores are always a popular choice as the time draws closer, not only for items to read, but for offbeat gifts, too.

Anne Merritt, customer service specialist at Books-A- Million, said she has seen many gift cards, cookbooks, sports books and books by popular authors being purchased.

Two unique items this season have already sold out. The "Reindeer Pooper" and "Bah-Humbug Sheep," gumball-type machines that emit brown jelly beans, flew off the shelves, she said.

Shalinda Loftin, a manager at the store, offered up other suggestions some might not have considered. She suggested a line of sprays that accentuate and enhance where needed. The "Liar Spray," "Stay in Love Spray" and "Irish Accent Spray" are among those featured.

She also pointed out stick-on temporary tattoos for babies, an angry girlfriend voodoo kid, and the ex-boyfriend gift set.

The more unique, the better, she said, "because they're different, and people are looking to get something that they don't have."

The tried and true will never go out of style, though. Jewelry is high on that list.

Glenn Coltrane, jeweler at Buddy's Jewelry, said two new items have proven to be big sellers. They are the "circle of love" pendants and "threader earrings," long chains that hang through the ear with pearls, circles or colored stones.

Diamonds in any form are still the No. 1 choice, he said.

"You can't go wrong by putting some type of jewelry under the tree," he said.

The concept of last-minute shopping is not foreign to Coltrane. He said he sees it every year. In the jewelry business, he said, those last frantic days' sales are as important to him as the day after Thanksgiving purchases are to more traditional retailers.

"It builds up right on through Christmas Eve," he said.

There is also a pattern, he said.

"Most people right now are looking for ideas. The last-minute shopper is looking for ideas," he said. "Early shoppers are specific in what they want. They know what they're looking for. They have been pointed to an ad or TV commercial. Last-minute shoppers are 'fun shoppers.'"

Don't rule out pawn shops this time of year, either.

James Smith, manager of Boulevard Pawn and Jewelry, said he has had a steady stream of customers searching for jewelry, especially necklaces, rings and bracelets, as well as video games and video systems.

"People come for the cheaper price and getting anything they can in the last few days," he said.

Of course, when all else fails, there's always a tie. Or socks. Or that Whitman's sampler.