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Adventures on the last-minute shopping circuit

Corene Brisendine and Katherine Wartell

By The Mercury

Those still hoping for last-minute Christmas bargains aren’t likely to see the store-wide discounts that were found on Black Friday.

Brian Ruiz, store manager of JC Penney, said that store does not plan to have any last minute sales. Instead, it will feature a promotion. Shoppers can pick up a pin with a code that can be checked online to determine whether they have won one of several gifts. The store has 80 million buttons to give out nationally.

Ruiz said one customer has already brought in a $500 gift card she won. Other potential prizes include a vacation to places such as Washington D.C., Chicago and Yellowstone National Park.

Locally owned stores are also seeing last-minute shoppers come in, but for different reasons.

Taylor Manges, assistant manager at Kieu’s, said she is helping customers pick out last minute gifts for stocking stuffers and hard-to-shop-for friends and family.

“We definitely have customers coming in saying, “I need help!” Manges said. “Especially guys are the ones coming in asking for help.”

She said customers are picking scarves and head wraps for stocking stuffers along with earrings and necklaces.

The boutique in the downtown shopping area will also be having last minute sales on Christmas Eve. Manges said the store sales include buy one-get one half off sales on tops, 30 percent off coats and jackets, and $10 off every $100 in purchases.

On Saturday, a steady stream of shoppers made the rounds of the Aggieville boutiques, including to a local favorite, Acme Gift.

Brooke Grieger and Danielle McCulley, who have worked at the store for two years, said customer traffic typically picks up after Dec. 21 and doesn’t let up until Christmas Eve.

But Grieger said it wasn’t as bad as in past years, when they couldn’t even walk through the store.

At Acme Gifts, Grieger said the most popular items have been their pint glasses featuring such text as “Somebody in Kansas Loves Me” and “I Miss Manhattan,” along with a baby’s pacifier with an attached moustache and uniquely flavored bacon candy canes.

Scarves were also a popular selling point at the local boutique Envy, located in Aggieville. Shannon Madden, a store employee, said their scarf collection has significantly decreased as people have bought them up for stocking stuffers.

Frank Beer, owner of Radio Shack on Fort Riley Boulevard, said fewer customers are asking for help than in the past.

“I think people are more hesitant to do that these days,” he said. “There is a lot more resistance, especially younger people because they don’t expect it because of the ‘Big Box Stores.’”

Beer said he expects the normal uptick in traffic as people hunt for unique, practical and hard-to-find gifts. He said he thought most people would be going to the Fiesta Bowl this year instead of buying presents.

Beer said he just went through his inventory and will be marking down a few toys for those last minute shoppers, too.

“Right now we are making sure those battery powered gifts are fully charged and ready to go Christmas morning,” he said.

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