December 19, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
28°F
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On the day after Christmas, shoppers fix Santa’s mistakes

ELYRIA — C’mon Santa, get it together. It was a bifold wallet that George Petrisko in Elyria wanted, not a trifold. 

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CHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE
A clerk takes returns at Best Buy in Elyria.

And Santa, remember little Justin Dean, 13, of Parma? That version of “Guitar Hero III” you left beneath the Christmas tree isn’t compatible with his Xbox 360.

No worries, though.

It seems Dec. 26 was put on the calendar to make up for Santa’s follies, and it proved true Wednesday as droves of people descended on area stores for a day of retail reckoning.

While the casual shopper trolled stores like Best Buy and Target in Elyria, there were also two other brands of people in attendance: bargain shoppers and gift returners. 

One in five shoppers planned on shopping the day after Christmas, according to a consumer survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The post-season shopping frenzy was in full swing at Midway Mall by Wednesday afternoon, where George Petrisko and his wife, Denise, were headed into Best Buy as one of five stops in their gift-return circuit. 

Items the Petriskos returned or exchanged: an Xbox 360 game, a “Kidz Bop” CD, some clothes, George’s trifold wallet and some of Denise’s new clothes.

“I got clothes that don’t fit,” Denise said, looking at her husband suspiciously. “I’ve been married to him for eight years, and this was the first year he bought me clothes. One of two outfits didn’t fit, but he actually did really good for his first try.”

Denise said her day-after-Christmas gift return is an annual ritual, perhaps made necessary by humanity’s natural preference for instant gratification.

“You just want it really bad,” she said, eyeing up the sweater she had to exchange. “You waited all year for it, and you want it back — NOW.”

Just ask Justin Dean and his mother, Barb, how that feels. The Parma boy got what he wanted for Christmas — “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” — but it wasn’t the version that’s compatible with his computer or his Xbox 360.

“Now we have to wait in line and then fight with (the store) over this thing,” said Barb Dean, Justin’s mom.

As mother and son shuffled off to Best Buy, Vermilion residents Catherine Slyker and Rosalie Franks were exiting Sears with a few large bags. The two were first-year bargain shoppers, and they felt like they’d stumbled upon the biggest secret in the world of shoppers.

“We’ve never, ever done this before,” Slyker said of the post-Christmas shopping. “But I can understand why people do it. We were in there 15 minutes and came out with all this. I’d hate to imagine the kind of damage we could do in an hour.”

They had stopped in Elyria to get the oil changed on a car, but decided to walk to Midway Mall when the serviceman told them it would take an hour.

So they headed to Sears, where red tags — that lodestar for the sales-savvy shopper — were posted like confetti: A $100 jacket for $40, a $16 Christmas pillow for $4, and dozens of items selling for 40 percent to 75 percent off the original price.

“We both bought our husbands shirts for half the original price,” Slyker said. “And some Christmas stuff. It’s all gifts for next year.”

Back at Best Buy, store manager Rick Solenski was too busy to offer an assessment of the lines of customers exchanging gifts or purchasing new items.

“Yeah, we’re busy,” Solenski said.

But LaGrange resident Tony Bednarski, 42, was all smiles as he exchanged a mismatched HDTV cable that his 16-year-old son bought him. 

“I’ll probably just give him the money back,” Bednarski said. “He needs it for his car.”

Another father-and-son team that hit the Midway Mall area on Wednesday was Amherst resident Joe Gilkerson and his son, Dan, 17. They found a cooling unit for an Xbox 360 at Radio Shack, originally marked at $25 but on sale for $16.

“We’ve been doing this every year, the day after Christmas,” Joe said. “This year we mainly came out for the Xbox 360 accessories.”

Down the road at Target, there was no line as Elyria residents Frank and Beverly Justice returned a clock radio.

“(Frank) couldn’t see the dials on it,” Beverly said, chuckling at her husband. “It was too small for him. We need something with bigger numbers on it.”

Frank agreed.

“Yup, I couldn’t see the numbers,” he said.

But they loved the short lines at Target, an anomaly among area stores Wednesday.

“There was no line at all,” Beverly said. “It was the easiest exchange I ever did.”

Contact Shawn Foucher at 329-7197 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.