Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stocking Stuffers Shoppers Wipe out Christmas Bargains

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stocking Stuffers Shoppers Wipe out Christmas Bargains

Article excerpt

Unless you're fond of pink-and-gold wrapping paper or one Christmas placemat, you're too late.

Jenni Stuart and her cohorts have seen to that.

Shortly after dawn broke Monday, Stuart, who lives in Fenton, was on the road. By 9:15 a.m., the 22-year-old receptionist already had hit two shopping centers and was headed for a third.

"I've got wrapping paper, containers for wrapping paper and tags," Stuart said as she took a brief inventory of her haul on the parking lot of Venture in Kirkwood.

Nodding toward the store, Stuart advised that all those people just arriving probably were wasting their time. Although the store had been open only an hour, "it's pretty well picked over," Stuart observed.

Despite her youth, Stuart is a veteran of the annual rite for those enamored with Christmas decorations: the morning-after-Christmas clearance sale of holiday trimmings.

"This is the best fun of Christmas," said Mary Ann Carter of Catawissa, as she and three daughters scurried from aisle to aisle at Target in Kirkwood - filling three carts with tinsel and toys.

It also can be brutal.

Even though Midwest gentility generally prevails, regulars in this early-morning battle come prepared to engage in a goodly amount of pushing, grabbing and seemingly endless line-waiting - all in the pursuit of those half-off Christmas goodies: cards, ornaments, lights, seasonal tablecloths, toys and this year's hot item, the mechanical snoring Santas.

The sweaters and shoes can wait.

"We've got returns to do, but I'll do them later; today's the day for bargains," said Kathy Valdez, 46, as she juggled an armful of Christmas items at Dillard's in Crestwood Plaza.

The store's Trim-A-Tree floor was so jammed that security officers restricted the escalator traffic for several hours after the store's opening at 10 a.m.

"We're sending people up in stages, to protect the safety of our customers," said Howard Hall, marketing vice president for Dillard's Midwest division. …

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