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Holiday Shoppers Leave Mess at Mall

December 12, 1997

LIVINGSTON, N.J. (AP) _ A half-hour before closing at the Livingston Mall, Karen Glevis surveys the damage _ the misplaced belts, the missing gloves, the mismatched pile of hastily folded sweaters.

``It can take 45 minutes to refold a table of sweaters,″ the Sears assistant manager sighed.

At the Disney store, baseball caps and discarded Winnie-the-Pooh dolls litter the carpet. Compact discs have fallen WAY under the racks at Sam Goody. And after enduring the footsteps _ and food droppings _ of several hundred children, the Santa set needs a good vacuuming.

The holiday shopping season can add several hours to a mall’s after-hours routine, as employees stay into the night to regroup for the next morning _ restocking, changing displays and cleaning up after shoppers.

``We have had to stay until 2 a.m. before,″ said Ms. Glevis. ``We don’t leave until it’s ready for tomorrow.″

The longer holiday hours _ many stores stay open until 11 p.m. and reopen at 8 a.m. _ give employees less time to get organized. And the extra business adds a ton of paperwork at the end of a night, said Sam Goody assistant manager Earl Hall.

Not every store has to spend hours cleaning up after shoppers. At the San Francisco Music Box Co., crammed with knicknacks, assistant manager Karen Lamanna says, ``I just vacuum, count the money and get out.″

But for high-volume stores, or ones where customers can easily pick things up and put them somewhere else, it’s a nightmare.

``It’s horrible,″ said Hallmark cashier Tanya Senior, who after her shift ended bought four stuffed animals she didn’t have the time to buy earlier. ``All the cards are on the floor. People take them out and don’t put them back in the right place.″

Other stores completely revamp their floors the night after closing. At 11 p.m. last Friday night, an army of employees at The Gap, The Limited and other clothing stores busily replaced that day’s outfits with new ones.

Nearby, Brenda Haas, who has a day job in the mall’s marketing department, delicately tossed white ``snow″ under a 37-foot Christmas tree, making sure the phony drifts were flawless.

``It’s my job to make sure that the center looks great for the weekend,″ she said. ``If the snow doesn’t look perfect, then I’m not happy.″

At Sears, one woman replaced a half dozen belts onto the rack; another looked for lost mates to shoes, while other employees restacked and refolded piles of khaki pants, sweaters and turtlenecks.

Ms. Glevis, stuffing leather wallets back into their boxes, found an empty box from Isotoner gloves she assumes were stolen.

The mess will only get worse as Christmas gets closer, she says.

``As people get more frantic and they can’t find gifts, they tear through the departments rapidly,″ she said.

After cleaning up, Ms. Glevis isn’t through. She has to put up sale signs for a weekend special between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. the next day. A new crew will come in two hours earlier to restock.

``It’s just basically picking up after people,″ Ms. Glevis says. ``I tell you, when I go home I don’t want to fold anything.″

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