Holiday last dash
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 23, 2012 1:50 AM
Sharon Colyer of Dudley, left, and her son, Aaron, 13, picked up a few cards at the Hallmark store in Berkeley Mall on Saturday. With Christmas just a few days away, shoppers turned out in droves to find last-minute bargains.
Chilly temperatures and increased traffic on the roadways, coupled with bottlenecked parking lots, still did not keep away steady crowds at Berkeley Mall on Saturday afternoon.
"It's chaos," said Edward Maldonado of Pikeville as he exited the Sears store with fiancée, Sharon Paine. "We have been to Smithfield and Wilson and the next place we're going is Greenville."
The shopping excursion was made more frustrating because the couple had something specific on their list -- a hat for Ms. Paine's son.
"We know what we want but we haven't been able to find it," she said.
This holiday will still be better than the one two years ago, though, when Ms. Paine's house burned to the ground right before Christmas.
"We're lucky to be celebrating this Christmas," Maldonado said.
Sharon Colyer of Dudley, walked out of the Hallmark store after picking up a few cards with son, Arron, 13.
She traditionally finds herself in the last-minute frenzy, she said.
There's usually one challenging person on the list, she explained.
"My mom -- she's always the last one," she said. "She doesn't always give us a lot to go on.
"It's hard to buy for somebody who buys for themselves and they know what they want."
Arron was being a good sport, his mom said.
"He got dragged into this," she said, adding, "He did help with the cards."
In the center of the mall, where Leonard Bearstein, an animated band, entertains the crowds daily, Gerald Lee of Four Oaks seemed perfectly content monitoring the stroller containing his 18-month-old grandson, Noah Stephens. Nearer to the stage, Lee's wife, Theresa, watched over their granddaughter.
"We've done good," Lee said of the shopping trip. "We're through."
Mack Dixon of Kinston, holding two bags filled with purchases, waited patiently for his sister outside Aeropostale.
He was unfazed by the frenzy.
"I never start early," he shrugged. "It's always last minute. I don't really have a list."
And then there were the bench-warmers.
Seats were at a premium in the mall late in the day, perhaps providing a respite from the shopping whirlwind or while in a holding pattern for the rest of their party.
Mary Thompson of Warsaw, flanked by her husband, Lee Thompson, and Nell Browder, had a ready explanation for choosing the prime seats.
"That's because we're finished," she said. "We're done. We're just done.
"We have been through probably, let's see, we went to Fayetteville on Tuesday, so we finished on Tuesday."
Mrs. Browder, who now lives in Atlantic Beach, is in town visiting family for the holidays.
"Our shopping is done," said her husband, Donnie Browder, when he joined her. "We just like to come out and watch the crowds."
Daughter Whitley, 16, seemed excited just to be in the midst of the mall shoppers.
"I'm through shopping," she said. "We have just been watching everybody else. It's interesting."