Area stores expect steady business on Christmas Eve

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 24, 2002

With only two days remaining before Christmas, items were flying off the shelves Monday as shoppers from across the Tri-State searched for that last-minute gift.

"We are having a banner year this season," J. C. Adkins, manager of the Ironton Big Lots, said. "Sales have been better this year than ever in the store's history."

Adkins, who has been at the store for 15 years, said this is the first year gift cards were available and they have been a very popular gift for the last-minute shoppers.

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Joe White of Ironton said his family got a jump on the holiday madness by beginning their shopping in October.

"We are almost done," White said as they browsed the sparse shelves at Big Lots. "We are just looking for those last minute odds and ends."

Ironton resident Pamela Freeman said she was out Monday finishing up so that she could avoid the stores today.

"I am just trying to find a few more things for the kids," she said. "I do not have little ones, so Christmas isn't as fun anymore."

Even though her two children Ambria, 19, and Joe, 25, are grown up, she said she still never feels like she has gotten them enough.

While downtown Ironton has been busy, many shoppers braved the crowds to shop at the Ashland Town Center Mall and Wal-Mart in South Point.

Tammi Holbrook, marketing director at the Town Center, said that all the stores have been very busy and that the mall as a whole has had a terrific year.

"Our location really has a lot to do with how busy we stay," she said. "We draw people from as far away as Portsmouth. For a regional shopping center, we have a relatively large geographical market area."

Although Holbrook thinks the number of frantic shoppers searching for just one more gift is lower than previous years, she said she is sure that the stores will be full until the mall closes at 5 p.m. today.

"I think we have seen more earlier shopping this year," she said. "But, I anticipate there will be some great bargains (today) for the last-minute shopper."

Bambi Henson, an employee at South Point Wal-Mart for the past 11 years, said she thinks this Christmas has actually been more busy than any other she has been a part of.

"This will be my eleventh Christmas Eve and I have the feeling it will be just as crazy as any other," she said. Wal-Mart will close at 6 p.m. today.

Although many of the popular toys have sold out, Henson said there is still plenty of great gifts to choose from. Popular items this season have included televisions, video games, the Rescue Heroes toys, any Marshall University items, candy and more.

"We are out of chocolate covered cherries for the first time since I have been here," she said. "But overall, everything else looks good."

So, as Santa loads his sleigh at the North Pole, shoppers are at stores across the country loading their carts.