12/28/08 — Returns and after Christmas bargains

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Returns and after Christmas bargains

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on December 28, 2008 2:00 AM

Thirteen-year-old Garrett Jackson wasn't too happy with Santa Claus when his new Rock Band 2 video game wouldn't work at his LaGrange home Christmas Day.

But this morning, Santa made things right. The whole family piled into the car and headed to Berkeley Mall to find a game that does work.

Although the day after Christmas is considered "return" day at most stores, there weren't that many disgruntled shoppers out today, store spokesmen said.

"It's not been as bad as we thought it was going to be. This morning, we mainly have people shopping for after-Christmas bargains," Lynn Wallace at JC Penny's said.

Brandon Rice, assistant manager at the Belk Store, said he thinks the reason more came to shop than return is because the store did the heavy markdowns earlier than in years past.

"The day after Thanksgiving was good. Then when the economy crashed, we took a nose dive -- until this past week, which was terrific," he said. "I think people waited for the last minute to get the best sales."

At FYE, assistant manager Marcus Atkinson had only taken one return before 8:30 a.m. The return was a lamp similar to the one made famous by the TV movie "A Christmas Story." The recipient, a middle-aged man, didn't want a lamp with a textured stocking-clad single leg holding up a light with a tasseled shade.

His wife brought it into the store for him.

"She said her husband received it and said he didn't know what he was supposed to do with it," Atkinson said.

And while sales replaced returns for the most part, Antoinette Wooten at Basix said she noticed the traffic in the mall was lighter this morning than the day after Christmas last year.

"But Christmas Eve, we got a real deep rush," she said.

Christmas for one of Sonya Grady's children was like a scene from "A Christmas Story" gone wrong.

The Remington Airmaster BB gun one of her kids received "backfired" before it was even loaded.

"It didn't work properly," said Mrs. Grady. "The BBs didn't load right, and a piece was missing."

Mrs. Grady was one of five people standing behind the vinyl ropes early Friday morning at the Spence Avenue Wal-Mart in Goldsboro, waiting to exchange or return an item.

Mrs. Grady planned to exchange the BB gun for a working model, she said.

"I have four boys and they all got one, and his is the only one" that didn't work, she said.

Wal-Mart dedicated a separate register to handle returns and exchanges, but by 8 a.m., the normal check-out lines were much busier than the customer service section.

Returns were also slow early in the day for Target, but a few people took advantage of the store's early-bird opening to take things back.

A Guitar Hero game for the PS2, one of the more popular gifts this year, sat behind the customer service counter, but that didn't mean someone was going without a rocking Christmas gift.

The woman who returned it "found one for the Wii instead," said Target employee Annalisa Reese, one of several workers handling the morning returns.

Tammy Mitchell was at Target to return some clothes that didn't work for her daughter.

"My daughter is so hard to fit," said Mrs. Mitchell.

She hoped to exchange the outfits for clothes that might be a better fit for her daughter, she said.

Exchanging the cracked Snapware ornament and decoration box for another was an easy errand for Monica Holmes. A large display of the plastic storage boxes lined the shelves near Target's entrance, in easy reach of the customer service counter.

"It was damaged and we didn't know it," Mrs. Holmes said about the container. "I'm getting another one."

She also planned to hit the morning's sales afterward, Mrs. Holmes said.

There was a long line of cars waiting in the parking lot when the store opened at 7 a.m., but so far, most people were shopping for bargains, according to Target store manager Angela Williams.

"Our returns haven't been very heavy," said Mrs. Williams.