August 23, 2014

Elyria
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Last-minute shoppers pack stores

Frantic procrastinators roam aisles, swear they won’t do this next year

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JASON MILLER / CHRONICLE
Tricia Boesel, 17, of Lodi, shops Sunday for the Macks Food Center Kids for Christmas toy drive at Target in Elyria.

ELYRIA — It’s two days before Christmas, and the question rolls off the tongues of husbands like a broken record all day at Bath and Body Works.

“Excuse me miss, I can’t find anything for my wife. What do you think she’d like?”

It’s a cry for help heard at nearly every lingerie, undergarment and body spray store in America, but it’s not a problem exclusive to men. Last-minute shoppers come in all shapes and sizes, and they crammed into department stores all over Lorain County on Sunday cursing themselves just as they did 365 days earlier.

“I should have started last month,” said Tyson Cawley, 31, his knuckles turning white under the weight of all his shopping bags. “I do this every year. I’m a habitual last-minute shopper.”

Cawley, of Amherst, was picking up some items for all the women in his life Sunday evening at Midway Mall in Elyria. While inside Bath and Body Works, known to readers of sports and car magazines as the Mecca of confused male shoppers everywhere, he discovered just how damaging last-minute shopping can be.

“They have a lot of stuff gone,” he said, nodding toward a bag of lotions and sprays. “I had to stick with this stuff.”

The tension was clear on the faces of other customers speed-walking over the concrete floor of the mall. Angelina Taylor, 22, of Lorain, let out a snide chuckle when asked if she was finally done shopping this year as she was leaving JCPenney Sunday.

“No, no. I still have to go to Wal-Mart,” she said.

She and her sister, 18-year-old Carisa Taylor, admittedly came out of the store with far less merchandise than they intended, and knew they had only themselves to blame.

“You can’t find any of the right sizes (of clothing) for any of the people I need to buy for,” she said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Both sisters said they usually finish the bulk of their shopping by mid-November, but this year they just never found the time to get out and buy.

Others have more legitimate excuses.

“We just had a baby a month ago, so this is one of the first chances we’ve had to get out,” said Chris Schaeffer, 37, looking for GPS units with his wife inside the Elyria Target.

He, too, said this was the latest he’s ever gone Christmas shopping, but he was certainly paying for it.

“All the good sales are taken,” he said. “There’s almost nothing left.”

Mediocre sales this month have forced many department stores to slash prices on everything from clothing to jewelry. Retailers are banking on the last-minute shopper to turn their profits for the year around.

People like Melinda and Brandon Wadds, of Vermilion, say that despite how much you can save, it’s almost never a good idea to put shopping off.

“We’re doing our entire family tonight,” said Brandon, 31, hunched over a cart with a few clothing items in it at Target.

“We try to do it earlier but you’re waiting for that last paycheck and working, it’s hard,” said his wife, Melinda, 30.

As for next year, Brandon said he has it all taken care of.

“Gift cards and buying on the Internet for everyone,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article. Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or awright@chroniclet.com.