Shopping season in full swing

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 1, 2002

Friday morning, Ironton resident Jonda Kennedy rushed into the Ashland, Ky., Wal-Mart when the doors opened at 6 a.m.

"It was a madhouse," she said. "You couldn't get a buggy. People were following people who were leaving into the parking lot to get buggies."

Still, she wouldn't trade her half-decade tradition of shopping on the day after Thanksgiving for the world.

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Friday officially kicked off the 2002 Christmas shopping season, and some local retailers haven't had the chance to breathe.

"Crazy -- that's the best word for it," Kevin Norris, assistant manager of the South Point Wal-Mart said. "People were waiting outside at 15 'til four. We didn't open until 6 a.m."

When customers flooded inside, Norris said the store was "gridlocked" and people could not even move in the electronics department. Wal-Mart remained extremely busy for the rest of the day, he said.

Also, smaller stores in the area have reported strong sales.

"It's been very good and steady," Diana Stephens, manager of the Burlington Fashion Bug, said. "It's promising for what's to come. It's relatively calm and not chaotic, but we've had large purchases."

"The store will be empty for five minutes, then the store's full," Mikkie Pierce, manager of the Ironton Hills CATO, said. "Then, everyone checks out at once, we have a one- to two-minute breather, and we do it all over again.

"It's better than last year. We've improved every year and we've continued to grow. I don't feel as if we're losing to other markets."

Pierce acknowledged that many Ironton residents do shop in Barboursville, W.Va., and Ashland, but most of them also try to support their local businesses as well.

Kennedy is one of those shoppers. She said she buys what she can get in Ironton, but shops in Ashland when something isn't available here.

April Boggs, a Hanging Rock resident who woke up at 3:30 a.m. Friday to start her shopping day, said most of her fellow shoppers were quite courteous, even though the malls were jam-packed. All of her Christmas shopping was completed Friday.

"Wal-Mart, that place was crawling," she said with a laugh. "I've been doing this every year for 6 years for the fun of it. It was a blast, and I had a good time."