Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pay Loads: Holiday Shoppers Hit the Malls

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pay Loads: Holiday Shoppers Hit the Malls

Article excerpt

Shoppers who converged on area retailers the day after Thanksgiving demonstrated traditional holiday colors: green and red.

Green bills slipped into registers as busy clerks rang up sales for everything from a tea kettle decorated with a pig's snout to a man's white dress shirt and plush teddy bears.

Red markdowns on sale items brought in customers hungry for value. Many hit stores for early bird bargains before sunrise Friday at 6:55 a.m.

By 6:30 a.m. customers sat in cars parked outside Omni Sports in Creve Coeur. When several dozen lined up, store manager Mike Mosley opened doors even earlier than the advertised 7 a.m.

Two hours later, that Omni and branches in Florissant and Mehlville had sold out of several specials, including treadmills at $100. Dozens of customers got rain checks.

When Wal-Mart in Arnold opened at 6 a.m., cars packed the lot. By 8 a.m., shoppers had wiped out the sale inventory of cameras and televisions, and they had snapped up armloads of winter clothes with red sale tags.

Mother Nature gave shoppers the gift of a sunny sky and an afternoon high temperature of 55 degrees that made it feel more like spring than a month before Christmas.

Shoppers shed coats for shirt sleeves or sweat shirts, some decorated with candy canes and Santa. And a few brave drivers cruised with convertibles down.

By early afternoon, drivers willing to walk a few extra aisles still could find spaces on the frontier at Plaza Frontenac and Northwest Plaza.

But drivers needed patience and luck to find open any of the 4,500 parking places at Saint Louis Galleria, where security officers navigated traffic through choked surface lots. The space squeeze could have been worse if 1,500 mall employees and 25 tour buses had not parked at nearby office and bank lots.

"We should have taken a cab," shouted a mother who wheeled a stroller into a crowded department store. …

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