Grab and wrap: Stores see last-minute scramble for gifts
By Gary Popp
Published in News on December 19, 2010 1:50 AM
News-Argus/MICHAEL K. DAKOTA
Yadira Soria and her father, Juan Soria, look over jewelry being sold by Hugh Pate Jr. at Berkeley Mall Saturday.
The Christmas shoppers showed up in droves to Berkeley Mall Saturday, despite the rain and dreary weather.
With exactly one week before Christmas morning, some people were crossing off the last names from their lists, while others were just beginning their Christmas shopping.
Annie Harris and her mother Carolyn Thorton came from Johnston County for a long day shopping, which started at 10:30 in the morning and lasted well into the evening.
"We really like to just look," Ms. Harris said.
Ms. Harris said she and her mother once enjoyed serious, marathon shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, but now because of "age and conditioning," they take a softer approach.
"We do it now for recreation," Harris said. "And that keeps out of trouble and from spending too much money."
Carolyn Thorton said they still enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
"We really enjoy looking for the deals," Thorton said.
Felipe Chavez, Jr., 21, and Yire Chavez, 13, were a brother and sister shopping duo who traveled from the LaGrange area to buy gifts for their parents.
This is not the first time the pair teamed up for Christmas shopping.
"It is kind of a tradition," Felipe said.
Yire said she shops for her mom while her brother shops for their dad.
Yire's advice to other kids who are interested in buying the perfect gift for their parents is simple and efficient.
"Ask them what they really want that they haven't gotten before," Yire said.
Felipe's advice, though, was more from the heart.
"Do it with love," Felipe said.
Jaime Gonzalez, of Goldsboro, brought his friend Rubi Acevedo, of Snow Hill, for his weekend shopping trip to by presents for friends and family.
"I need help shopping," Gonzalez said.
"We should have come sooner," Ms. Acevedo said. "There are things I saw last week that aren't here now."
While the pair found some of the selection to be scarce, she said she did see discounts of up to 70 percent on clothing.
Gonzalez said while he would have preferred a shopping at a time when it was less crowded, he is relieved to finally have completed his shopping for the year.
"It is one less thing to do," he said.
Raymond Green, of Kinston, and Keenan Parks, of Grifton, are self-proclaimed procrastinators when it comes to shopping.
For Green, Christmas shopping is a joyful event, as soon as the seasonal senses kick-in.
"You get the good feeling going when you smell the sweetness in the air," Green said.
Green said he refuses to let the down economy get him down.
"Don't let the recession stop your flow of living," Green said.
Green said that new gear allows you approach the new year feeling rested.
"You got to start your year off fresh," Green said.
Parks said there is a clear distinction between male and female shoppers.
"Women like to take time shopping, but men, we already know what they want before we go," Parks said.
Parks said he had already bought the essentials for his children like clothes, shoes and coats, but does the shopping for extras like games closer to Christmas Day.
"We are out here just trying to make everybody happy," Parks said.
"We are out bargain hunting and trying to match the best gifts for those we are buying for," said Joy Worsham who was shopping with her daughter Meredith, both of Smithfield.
"We are just major procrastinators," joked Joy, who had waited until Saturday to even begin to confront her long list of presents to purchase.
"We have just touched the tip of the tip of the iceberg," Joy said.
Joy said her advise to other shoppers is to "shop early and shop wisely."
However, she admitted that she will likely decline her own advice next shopping season.
Tracey Pate has a booth near the center of Berkeley Mall where she sales her handcrafted, earth-town, jewelry.
Ms. Pate, who has worked off and on as a vendor nearly three years, had one word for this year's shopping season: "Fantastic."
"This is the best show I have ever had," she said, adding that consumers have seemed rejuvenated in recent weeks.
"Two years ago, everybody look depressed, walking around with their heads down. Now heads are high and there is a greater sense of joy." Pate said.
"The crowd is the best we have seen in years," Pate said. "People seem to want to spend and go to all the stores and are actually doing the shopping."
Pate sees the increased consumerism as a possibility of good things to come.
"It is a reflection of hope in the economic situation," she said.
Perhaps one of the best barometers of shopper turnout is the gift wrapping station in Berkeley Mall headed by Ione Kuhns.
The booth is ran by Ms. Kuhns and other volunteers of a local organization that strives to find families for homeless animals.
The group has been working every weekend at the mall since the weekend after Thanksgiving.
"This is our busiest day ever," she said. "We had ten people working here today as fast as we could."
Ms. Kuhns said the group wraps an average of 200 gifts a day.
"Today we wrapped at least 300 gifts," which means approximately $900 on Saturday alone for the group's animal foster program, she said.