Day 1 Was a Family Affair
Undated (AP) _ The first day of the Christmas shopping season was the usual crowded, family affair, with mothers checking items off long lists, fathers buying gifts for sons and daughters, and small children patiently standing in line to see Santa Claus.
″We’ve got a traditional holiday crowd here today,″ Charles Cope, manager of the Tysons Corner Center mall in Fairfax County, Va., said Friday.
Many shoppers got an early start despite bad weather in places. Retailers lured them out with promotions that stores hope will make up for the Christmas season having six fewer days than last year.
More than 20 people were waiting in the parking lot of a K mart store in south Kansas City when the store opened at 7 a.m.
″They didn’t even seem to care that it was freezing cold outside,″ said door greeter Clifford Tucker. ″Now they’re mostly all crowded round the jewelry counter.″
Ron Davis, manager of Toys By Roy, a large toy store at the Winrock Center in Albuquerque, N.M., said, ″This is a shorter shopping season, so people are buying more now than looking.″
Some shoppers make a tradition out of where they browse and shop.
″We come here every year the day after Thanksgiving,″ said Floyd Mohr, 30, a police officer from suburban Northbrook, Ill., who was shopping at Marshall Field’s downtown Chicago store.
At Michigan’s Lansing Mall, Doris Watts said she was able to spend less on gifts this year because ″this is the first year that I’m organized.″
She made her list out months ago and was ready to strike when she saw the advertisements for after-Thanksgiving sales.
In some places, though, crowds were sparse.
Bob and Ruth Bruhns, who were visiting rainy New York from Atlanta, said they had braced themselves for bigger crowds.
″We had been led to believe it was going to be close to gridlock,″ Bruhns said. ″We’re from out of town so we came prepared for that, but it hasn’t been quite that bad.″
Still, the spirit of the season was evident across the country and seemed to bring out the best in some people.
William Buschan of Vineland, N.J., shopping in the Deptford Mall in Gloucester County, said his fashion-conscious son wanted a pair of Reebok sneakers.
″He won’t settle for plain sneakers. He’s got to have $54 sneakers. But if that’s what he wants, that’s what Christmas is all about,″ Bushchan said.
As for Mrs. Buschan, Buschan said he bought his wife’s gift last June - jewelry set with rubies. ″I’ve been wanting to buy her a ruby since I married her,″ he said fondly.
Speaking of romantic, Melissa Radocha, 25, the manager of Victoria’s Secret, a woman’s lingerie and specialty shop, in Milwaukee, said: ″Most of our customers today have been men.″
Threatening the good spirits were the thieves, who probably were out in full force.
Police handed out leaflets to warn shoppers of how to guard against pickpockets at Roosevelt Mall in northeast Philadelphia,
But in many locations, it was the kids who stole the show.
At the Uptown Square in New Orleans, 4-year-old Kate Wade of Monroe, La., said she wanted ″a Hungry, Hungry Hippo.″ Asked what that does, Kate bared her teeth and chomped at the air.
Meanwhile, at McCain Mall in North Little Rock, Ark., 2-year-old Hillary Burkett, dressed in black patent leather shoes and a green and red dress, clutched a pink blanket and sucked her thumb as she gazed at Santa Claus from afar. She was waiting in line to sit on his lap.
Not all Santas were up on their toys.
Jose Rigual, a 24-year-old playing Santa at Miami International Mall, said, ″The boys asks for something called ’Mask.‴ M.A.S.K. is a line of action figures and vehicles made by Kenner.
People did have mixed feelings about the crowds of families.
At the Park Central Mall in Phoenix, Ariz., Eve Best said she and her husband preferred to do a lot of their shopping by catalog. ″It makes it a lot easier,″ she said
But at L.S. Ayres in downtown Indianapolis, Don Harrison, who came from Brazil, Ind., and carried a bagful of gifts, said: ″I kind of like this rush. It puts me in the spirit.″