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Last-minute shoppers pack area stores


It’s one thing to wade through hordes of Christmas Eve shoppers to score last-minute gifts.

It’s another thing entirely to wrap them all.

That’s where Donna Sayre and fellow members of the Daughters of the American Revolution Falls of the Rappahannock Chapter came in.

In return for donations, the group wrapped gifts for a “steady stream” of shoppers at Barnes & Noble on Monday, said Sayre.

Members of the Falls of the Rappahannock chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution spent their Christmas Eve wrapping gifts for last-minute shoppers.

Beginning at 9 a.m. inside Barnes and Noble’s cafe, the women were confronted with a “very steady” stream of customers, said Donna Sayre, one of the wrappers.

“A desperate man will give you anything to wrap their gift,” she said.

Barnes & Noble manager Becky Anderson said the busy Monday continued a trend that began when the bookstore opened at Central Park in November. The weekend was particularly hectic, she said.

“We’re one of the last places people think about,” she said.

Across State Route 3 from Central Park, Spotsylvania Towne Centre also was packed with shoppers Monday. A mall spokeswoman said stores were “very busy” all weekend.

Cars clogged Route 3 in both directions much of the day, making it difficult to get in and out of the two major shopping areas in the Fredericksburg area.

The shopping frenzy was not surprising. A survey by the National Federation of Retailers earlier this month found that 10.2 percent of those who responded planned to wait until Christmas Eve to buy their final gifts.

A check with several area stores over the weekend found most to be doing brisk business.

Bob Whittingham said his downtown store specializing in cookware and kitchen utensils had “an excellent shopping weekend.”

“People are in a shopping mood,” he said. “Christmas Eve on Monday is like having an extra weekend day.”

Whittingham said he likes last-minute shoppers.

“They’re rather fun,” he said. “Because they have this look in their eyes, glazed over like they can’t leave the store without something in their hands.”

Sam Odio fell into that desperate category. When he arrived at Whittingham on Sunday, he hadn’t purchased a single Christmas gift.

Odio, who works in the technology industry in Silicon Valley, is visiting family in Fredericksburg. He found a skimmer at Whittingham for his sister-in-law.

“She’s a big cook, so I think she’ll like it,” he said.

His brother, Daniel Odio, who also lives in California, did all of his Christmas shopping online. He did stop by Dog Krazy on Caroline Street, though, to buy a treat for his “goddog,” who belongs to friends in Alexandria.

Karyn Quick, manager of Old Navy in Central Park, said the stream of shoppers was steady all weekend, with people buying sweaters, thermals and pajamas.

“Friday was really crazy,” she said. “We stayed busy until late, and we close at midnight.”

Jaime Renshaw was at the store Sunday buying pajamas for her three sons to wear on Christmas Eve. She also visited Spotsylvania Towne Centre and Toys R Us.

“It’s a little crazy out,” she said. “But you can’t let it ruin your day.”

Stacey Berry also was shopping at Old Navy on Sunday, picking up stocking-stuffers and gifts for friends and neighbors.

She finished shopping for her four sons earlier at Target and GameStop. She said one of their Christmas traditions is to give each child three gifts, in keeping with the Nativity story.

Her oldest, 15, wanted a Samsung Galaxy phone, a bass guitar and an amplifier.

Diane Pultz, a fifth-grade teacher at Wilderness Elementary School, came out to Barnes & Noble on Sunday to buy presents for kids in her neighborhood with gift cards from her students. She also bought Dr. Seuss books and a toy for her neighbor’s new baby.

“It’s kind of fun,” she said about shopping just just before Christmas. “Most people here are very happy.”

Mike Setti, manager of Best Buy at Central Park, said the store has been selling large numbers of tablets, smartphones, high-end headphones and video games. He, like many store managers, said the weekend was busy, with the peak coming Friday.

“It was a little surprising,” he said. “We were busy from the moment the doors opened Friday.”

Hilary and Scott Loftus shopped at Best Buy on Sunday for their 6-year-old son, James.

“We’re looking for something for him to watch Netflix on and read,” she said. “Probably a tablet or a Kindle Fire.”

She said that most of their shopping was already done.

“But his birthday was on the 20th, so we’re almost out of ideas,” she said.

Ruth Ann Baxter, who works at The Griffin, a bookstore in downtown Fredericksburg, said weekend traffic was steady.

Richard Brookman of Richmond shopped for himself in The Griffin Sunday.

He said they come to Fredericksburg to shop three times per year, once around Christmas, around her birthday in February and again in the summer.

“It’s nice,” he said. “we park and walk from one end to the other. I look mainly for used books and she runs up a tab at the cat store.”

David Sale, manager of Crown Jewelers downtown, said he opened early during the weekend to accommodate the rush. He said Pandora bracelets and silver jewelry were selling well.

“More shoppers are definitely out this year,” he said.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976