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Smith: Hear the jingle of registers, the swipe of cards

POSTED: January 13, 2008 5:04 a.m.

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the store,

Not a cash register was humming nor a blue light special in a roar.

The shopping carts were aligned by the door with care,

In hopes that St. Shopper soon would be there.

The clerks were nestled all snug in their beds

While visions of sales tax danced in their heads.

And manager in her suit, and I in my Santa cap

Had just settled our aching arches for a short night’s nap.

When out in the parking lot there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my recliner to see what was the matter.

Away to the action aisle I flew like a flash,

Tore open the display windows in a dash.

The moon on the parking lot was a show,

Gave the luster of midday to the objects below.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear

But a soccer-mom van with eight in the rear.

With a little old driver, so lively and so dapper,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Shopper.

More rapid than Pokemon his crew came,

And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

Now Jack! Now Jean! Now John and Bennett!

On Cathryn, on Laura! On Caroline and Kimberly, too!

To housewares! To sporting goods and Petites, too!

Now lay away! Charge away! Spend away, too!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

So in through the front doors he came,

With pockets full of money and St. Shopper the same.

And then in a twinkling, I heard in the aisles

The sizing and the pricing of all the new styles.

As I drew in my head and was turning around,

Down the way came St. Shopper with a bound.

He was dressed all in cotton, from his head to his toe,

And his clothes were all pressed down ready for snow.

A wallet with plastic he had in his pocket,

Burning a hole like a blast from a rocket.

His eyes how they twinkled; His dimples how merry!

As thoughts of sales would be gone if he tarried.

And the beard of his chin was as white as snow.

Because of the catalogs he was in the know.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his mouth.

No light this night; too busy in the South.

He had a broad face and a little round belly

That jiggled when he watched his new telly.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know there would be no recession to dread.

He and his crew spoke not a word —

Only the sounds of price checks could be heard.

And laying his finger aside his nose,

And giving a nod, through the checkout he closed.

He sprang to his van, to his crew he gave a whistle

And away from the traffic jams they flew like a thistle.

But I heard him explain as he drove out of sight,

Good luck to merchants all, sales to new heights.

J.C. Smith is a consultant for the Gainesville district office of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center. His column appears Tuesdays and at


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