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Stragglers keep shopping down to the wire
Some don't let last-minute stress get to them
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Connie Rock, owner, arranges items in the store for last-minute shoppers Friday at Purchase Effect in Main Street Market in downtown Gainesville. Rock saw an increase in shoppers the past few days leading up to Christmas. - photo by Erin O. Smith

With the 2016 Christmas season coming to a close, many shoppers were still store hopping Friday looking to complete their gift lists.

Retailers estimate that about 20 percent of Americans are putting off their holiday shopping to the very last minute.

Unashamedly, Vicky Patterson of Cummings is one of those procrastinating shoppers. She made the approximately 40-minute commute from Cumming to the Main Street Market in downtown Gainesville because her friend, Leigh Anne Finley, owns a store there called “SouthErn Grace.”

“I have three grandchildren and two daughters, and I have not bought one thing,” Patterson told The Times.

As the activity director of an assisted-living facility near Cummings, Patterson said 50-hour work weeks are not uncommon for her, which has limited personal time to do some of the simple things in life — such as shopping. However, instead of feeling guilty about putting off buying gifts, Patterson puts it all in perspective by reminding herself what the season is really all about.

“I’m celebrating the season without stress,” said Patterson, flashing an artful Southern smile. ”If I can’t find anything to buy I’ll give them 50 bucks and they can buy what they need.”

Meredith Joyce of Gainesville accompanied her 13-year-old son, Connor, at the stores Friday to help him find a gift for his aunt and sister.

“We’re just about done,” Joyce said of Christmas shopping for the family.

Joyce and Connor, a North Hall Middle School student, were looking ahead to next week when they plan on driving to Fernandina Beach, Fla. where Joyce’s sister owns a restaurant.

Also commuting into Gainesville for some last-minute shopping was 30-year-old Haley Stovall of Cleveland. Although she runs her own store in Cleveland, Stovall said she let a helper run the store Friday so she could get a break.

“I’m working until (6 p.m. Saturday) so I could use the break,” Stovall said.

Shop owners were all too happy to see the last-minute shoppers.

Connie Rock who owns Purchase Effect inside Main Street Market and operates the gift shop with her husband, Don, said business has remained brisk throughout December. They opened Purchase Effect in April.

The daughter of missionaries, Rock said she spent her formative years living in Bolivia with her parents. Her store carries handmade gifts from Central and South America.

Main Street Market and other downtown businesses plan to be open Christmas Eve on Saturday to accommodate more last-minute shoppers.