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Christmas shopping days down to 1
Last-minute bargain hunters seek final gifts at area stores
1224shopping
Keisha Mattire, left, looks at shoes for some last-minute Christmas shopping Friday with daughter Jamesha, 10, inside the Finish Line at Lakeshore Mall in Gainesville. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

It's a different breed of shopper who waits until the last week of Christmas to finalize buying presents, compared to the kind of who brave the Black Friday bonanza.

And it's not necessarily that last-minute shoppers are procrastinators.

David Florence, a Cleveland resident and father of three, said there's a strategy in waiting until two days before Christmas to do some shopping.

At least part of that is avoiding Black Friday. He said he's done it once before, but never again. The atmosphere is too intense.

"I don't care if we save 400 bucks; it's not worth it," he said.

On Friday morning, Florence had two main goals as he browsed through Lakeshore Mall in Gainesville. The first was to find a replacement gift for his middle son, who had changed his mind on the big gift he wanted this year.

Without giving away the surprise, the boy should be impressed with the new one.

The second was his annual tradition of showering his wife with gifts.

"My wife is very frugal," he said. "So at Christmas, I blow it up for her."

His oldest son, Matt Florence, 17, nodded his head in agreement. Matt was shopping with his dad while looking for gifts for his girlfriend.

The elder Florence waits until just days before he gives his wife gifts for a reason: to understand exactly what she wants.

"I treat her like a job," said the dutiful husband. "I focus and I listen to what she says for clues."

He then started to tiptoe onto thin ice.

"I always wait until the last minute because women change their minds a lot, and I get more information from her."

Reconnoitering isn't the only advantage to shopping late.

For Cleveland residents Nikita Dudek and her sister, Morgan Williams, the last minute shopping was to round a few items after getting most of it done early in the season.

With Christmas finally approaching, some stores are looking to unload inventory that has not been selling as well as expected, said Kirsten Boettcher, a spokeswoman for Lakeshore Mall.

"If you like to play Russian Roulette, you may find things priced to sell," she said. "Some people really thrive on last minute shopping."

Stores are open at Lakeshore Mall from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. today.

The risk, of course, is that the good gifts may be picked over for shoppers who wait too late.

While Friday morning at the mall was pretty tame, Boettcher said that today - a Saturday before Christmas - should bring the crowds.

"I'm expecting Dec. 24 to be a crazy shopping day," she said.

Matthew Bayer, a manager at The Finish Line, said staffing levels at the store will be as high as they were on Black Friday.

Shopping was actually the last thing on the mind of 8-year-old Cheyanne Watts. Instead, she had a few last minute items on her own list that she needed to tell Santa Claus personally.

As Cheyanne waited for Old Saint Nick to arrive at the Lakeshore Mall Santa display, her mother, Lori Watts, explained that Cheyanne had spoken with Santa earlier this month. Still, she forgot a few things.

One of them was a Go Go My Walking Pup, an electronic toy dog that walks and wags its tale.

Cheyanne wasn't too concerned about adding to her wish list a day before Christmas Eve. She seems to understand that even Santa has to scramble until the last minute to find presents to give for one reason or another.

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