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Last minute shopping brings holiday hustle and bustle

By Sherry Koonce

The News staff writer

Some were frantic, others at ease, but most all who shopped Thursday filled their bags with last minute presents to sneak under the tree while navigating a day of holiday hustle and bustle.

“Shopping ahead of time takes all the fun out it,” Kenneth Minniefield, of Port Arthur, said.

Minniefield brought his wife Tammy along to do what he never gets right — pick out something she likes.

“I tell her ‘you pick it out and I’ll take care of it,’” he said. “I think she wants a watch and some stud earrings, so I’ll let her get the ones she likes.”

It’s not that he doesn’t like to shop. Minnefield said he and his wife enjoy coming to the mall on Christmas Eve and do it every year.

“All our kids are grown and we are off work, so it’s a nice thing to do. Plus, there’s really not that many people out shopping today.”

Many area stores opened their doors early, and closed early so employees could enjoy the holiday with their families.

Theresa Pecorino, training supervisor with J.C. Penney’s at Central Mall, said shoppers started arriving when the store opened at 5 a.m. to purchase last minute items.

“We’ve had a lot of people in looking for Snuggies,” she said. “That seems to be the popular item this year.”

Pecorino said the last day of shopping was always a busy day, but one that was filled with the spirit of Christmas.

While the stores might not have been packed with the same shoulder-to-shoulder traffic as the weekend before Christmas, one thing could be said for the last minute shoppers — the chance of them making a purchase was a sure bet.

Just ask 22-year-old Chris Smith from Groves.

With only a few hours of shopping time left before his family gathered early Christmas Eve afternoon for their holiday celebration, Smith admitted he was running out of time to find something for his mother and grandmother.

“I wait until the last minute every year,” he said. “I wait until I just have to do it. I guess you could say I hate to shop.”

Smith wasn’t the only shopper guilty of procrastinating.

Stephen Smolsky, 57, of Port Arthur, was in Kay’s Jewelers shopping for his wife. He waits until Christmas Eve every year, he said, though he always vows beforehand to start earlier.

“I always say I am going to do better, but here I am shopping at the last minute. Every year its the same thing, but it always works out.”

Danielle Licatino, a clerk at Kay’s, said their store was always busy on Christmas Eve, and that Smolsky was not alone in waiting until the last minute.

“It’s all men, I promise,” she said.

Most come in at the last minute — some with a good idea of what they want, others don’t know, she said.

This year, watches and necklaces are popular items, she said.

Sylvia Quibodeaux, 54, of Port Neches and her husband Eugene had most of their shopping done early, but were out picking up last minute gifts for their nieces coming in from New Mexico.

“We’re just enjoying looking. I guess we just like the last minute hustle and bustle,” she said.

skoonce@panews.com