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Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

For bargain-hunters, the shopping season is just beginning

Sunday, December 21, 2003

SIKESTON -- Shoppers who may have been trampled on or even jabbed by a cart the day after Thanksgiving have had time to lick their wounds, but most importantly, prepare themselves for the final round of the holiday shopping season -- the day after Christmas.

Take it from a veteran after-Christmas shopper like Mary Crader of Sikeston. She has shopped the day after Christmas for over 25 years and is the first to admit strategy is the key in the often hectic --

and sometimes scary -- occasion.

"It's a big event with our family," Crader said adding that a group of about four go shopping. "We get up at 5 a.m. and the first thing we do is go for breakfast. We're always in line for our first store by about 6:45 a.m."

Arriving 15 minutes prior to a store's opening should be sufficient, Crader said. Usually there's about 100 people when doors open at 7 a.m. and usually everybody knows just what they're looking for, she recalled. Beginning in Cape Girardeau, the family finishes their day-long adventure in Sikeston, Crader noted.

Rule No. 1 for after-Christmas shoppers: "Make a list. We always have lists," Crader said. "Know what you're going for --

and keep an open mind because there are great deals out there."

Crader recommends visiting the stores about a week before Christmas to scope out the merchandise you may want. Check the ads in the newspaper and use sticky notes to mark a certain page or item that might be a prospect for the big day, she advised.

Crader's son who's 26, has been going since he was 10, Crader said, adding that they bribe him to go by eating out at breakfast and lunch.

"He's in charge of watching the carts," Crader said. "This way we can go right to what we want and meet up with him after."

Also, don't wear coats because they're too cumbersome, Crader suggested. Bringing along bottled water can also help quench your thirst during a busy day when you may not have many breaks, noted Crader, whose family always takes water on their trip.

Crader said every year she saves about one-fourth of her Christmas money to buy items at the after-Christmas sales. She usually buys all of the wrapping paper, bows, gift tags, decor and some gifts for next Christmas, she said. "If we see something we like before Christmas, we'll wait until after Christmas because sometimes it'll be a lot cheaper," Crader said. Shopping the day after Christmas is really good for someone who has collections because sometimes their marked down 75 percent, she added.

In addition to Crader's recommendations, shopper Kara Kyle of Oran suggests not taking small children because there's no reason for them to be there with so many people. She also suggested not wearing coats adding that sweatshirts and tennis shoes are a good way to go.

Kyle has not only gone shopping the day after Christmas before, but she's also worked the day after Christmas at Kirlin's Hallmark so she's shopped with the best of them and as an employee, she's witnessed the worst of them.

"I've never had anyone be mean to me while shopping, but when I was working I saw someone steal some wrapping paper out of someone's hand, or I've seen them waiting for someone to put an item down and then snatch it up."

Despite the reports about acts of rudeness and fights over merchandise in department stores the day after Christmas, Crader said she has never witnessed or encountered mean actions by fellow shoppers.

"I have never seen it," admitted Crader. "In fact, if someone's looking for a certain item, if we find it, we share it."

Crader says her family even sees some of the same people each year who have the same shopping ritual as they do. "We don't even know them, but we see them every year," she said. However, this year will be the first year Crader's family will break their traditions.

"Normally we go with a friends who live in Texas, but they're not able to come this year so we're going to communicate by cell phone and call each other from the same stores to see which one has better deals," Crader said.

Crader's son who lives in Oxford, Miss., will miss the Christmas shopping trip as well this year because he can't make it home for Christmas.

Even so, Crader isn't wasting the opportunity to add a newcomer to their tradition.

"This year it's just me and my daughter, Laura," Crader said. "We're also going to take my 9-year-old granddaughter with us and start training her as a shopper, teaching her how to man the carts."