Shoppers make final push as Christmas deadline approaches

pramati@macon.comDecember 23, 2012 

CENTERVILLE -- Some of the shoppers at the Houston County Galleria Sunday offered a variety of reasons as to why they waited to the next-to-last minute to do their Christmas shopping: work, illness, late bargains, trying to figure out the perfect gift.

Others simply went out and shopped Sunday because they felt like it, and didn’t care too much whether there were large crowds or the items they wanted were no longer in stock.

Karen Roberts and her daughter-in-law Anita walked out of the nearby Toys R Us with a few last minute gifts.

“Our families were gone, so we decided to go shopping,” she said. “We had finished all our shopping. This was just a pleasure trip.”

But a few moments later, Walter and Renee Stephens exited the same store carrying several parcels for their four sons. As educators in the Houston County school system, the couple only just got out of school this past week and needed to play catch-up.

“It’s her fault,” Walter Stephens deadpanned, causing his wife to burst out laughing.

Renee Stephens said that the afternoon trek to Toys R Us was actually their second visit to the store. They arrived at 8 a.m., did some shopping, then went to church, then returned to shop there in the afternoon. After a very late lunch, the couple said they planned to hit the stores once more.

“We’ll be out all night,” Renee said, but noted the couple had already grabbed essentials like Skyriders, Spider-Man, and various Nerf products.

At the Sears in the mall, Kristin Dawson took her cousin Kailin Gordon shopping. Dawson said she had been ill last week, which caused delays for her even as she was already behind.

“I thought I was going to have Thursday and Friday (to shop), but I got sick,” she said, noting that she had only bought for “50 percent” of her list. “Now I’m here on Sunday. There’s lines, there’s traffic.”

Gordon said she had already finished the majority of her shopping and was there to help out. The Macon-based cousins went to Houston County to shop because they wanted to hit the TJ Maxx store there.

Even though Dawson had a lot to buy Sunday, she still didn’t have much of a specific list as to what she would purchase.

“Whatever strikes my eye, I guess,” she said. “Maybe a bargain or a special will jump out at me.”

The late bargains are the reason why Joe Stubbs, of Kathleen, waits almost to the last minute every year he does his Christmas shopping.

“I’m shopping for my seven grandkids, and I feel there are better deals right now,” he said. “Normally, I wait for the deals.”

Stubbs had two of his grandsons, Demarian Dawson, 16, and Tristan Stubbs, 7, with him as he waited to get some of his gifts wrapped, which means he will have to get their presents Monday. His elder grandson said he doesn’t know what he wants for Christmas, but at least Stubbs will have an idea as to what to get for Tristan.

“Ninja Turtles!” Tristan exclaimed.

Many of the mall shoppers dropped their gifts off with volunteers from Habitat For Humanity, who are wrapping gifts at the mall in order to raise funds. Workers at the table said a large number of men were availing themselves of the wrapping services, dropping off several gifts at once and going to other stores while waiting for the gifts to be wrapped.

So, was there any advice to be dispensed for shoppers who need to finish by Monday night?

“Let your husband make the decisions,” said Renee Stephens, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

“Hey! She said it!” Walter Stephens replied with a laugh.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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