Shoppers hit local stores to the last minute

MARIETTA – It was the 11th hour, but Marietta area shoppers were still out in force Tuesday, finishing up their Christmas shopping or looking for some last-minute bargains.

Frank and Laraine Schneider, of Marietta, who were pushing a gift-laden cart through the aisles at K-mart, had a good reason for shopping on Christmas Eve.

“Normally I have all of this done by now,” Laraine said. “But my son is always working, and I just got his Christmas list on Monday. I’m all done except for him.”

Frank said he’d seen a couple of bargains in the store.

“I think they may have marked some things down a percentage or two,” he said.

Shari Brown, also of Marietta, said she had been extra busy this year with her business and a daughter who’s in the early stages of her second pregnancy.

“I’ve just been really busy, so we’re out doing the Christmas shopping today,” she said. “In fact, I have other people shopping for me at a different store. My older sister is at Wal-Mart, and later we’ll meet at my house to wrap the presents. But normally I have everything done by Thanksgiving.”

Layne Lowe, of Parkersburg, had a few last gifts to buy Tuesday.

“I’m just picking up some clothes, toys and movies – a few last-minute gifts,” he said. “But I’ll be back in the stores after Christmas, that’s when everything’s marked down and you’ll get the best deals.”

Lowe said he shopped on Black Friday for the first time last year.

“It was horrible. I’ll never do that again,” he said. “But this is also the first time I’ve waited this close to Christmas to do the shopping.”

Mary Harris was ringing the bell for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign in front of the Marietta K-mart store. She said plenty of people had been coming into the store Tuesday morning.

“I’ve seen quite a few, and they’ve been giving generously today,” Harris said. “They may be doing their last-minute shopping, but most put something in the red kettle.”

The story was the same at Wal-Mart where Joe Lee manned the Salvation Army station.

“We’re getting some good donations today,” he said. “And there have been a lot of people coming and going all morning. Four or five people will get into their cars and drive away, but four or five more will pull in to take their place.”

Kay Michel, of Marietta, had to do some emergency shopping with her niece, Alex Michel, at Teri Ann’s on Front Street.

“Some gifts I ordered online did not come in on time,” she said. “My husband tracked them down and they’re still at the postal facility in Columbus. So we came downtown to shop at Teri Ann’s and Twisted Sisters. They know us and what we like, and I will have gifts before we go home today.”

Shop owner Teri Ann Pfeffer said business was brisk Tuesday.

“We’ve seen a lot of people who are still doing their last-minute shopping,” she said. “But this is pretty typical for many reasons. Some people have just arrived in town to spend the holidays with their families and they haven’t had a chance to shop together, so they’ll come downtown.”

Main Street Marietta executive director Jean G. Farmer was handing out candy canes to customers and employees at downtown businesses Tuesday.

“I think it’s almost human nature for many people to wait until the last minute to do their shopping,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of people out on the streets today.”

Nearby, at American Flags and Poles, co-owners Jim and Sylvi Caporale were also seeing plenty of shoppers.

“Every year we have some regular customers that wait until the last minute to do their shopping,” Sylvi said. “We’re open till at least 3 p.m., but usually stay until 5 if customers are still coming in.”

She said some people are so busy they just don’t have time to do their shopping earlier than Christmas Eve, or they may discover some unexpected guests are coming to visit.

“But some really love the excitement of shopping at the last minute,” Sylvi added.

Jim noted many folks come because the store has a variety of gifts for anyone.

“The typical statement is ‘We don’t know what they want for sure, but we knew you’d have it here,'” he said.