Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Different Kind of Holiday Rush

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Different Kind of Holiday Rush

Article excerpt

WHAT'S IN STORE

I walked into Kohl's just after midnight hoping to learn who shops for the holiday in the dead of night and to find one last gift for my older brother.

I did both.

The department store kicked off its around-the-clock Christmas shopping on Tuesday, and will welcome customers day and night for 107 hours straight until 6 p.m. Christmas Eve. The schedule shakeup caters to firefighters, nurses and anyone else who may have trouble fitting holiday shopping into traditional retail hours.

Not everyone works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and that can make crossing the last few gifts off the list a challenge.

So Kohl's has evened the odds and added some extra time.

I wanted to see who was taking advantage of it.

I'd been out in the holiday rush most of the afternoon trying to cross my brother off my

Christmas list, and the late-night Kohl's parking lot was quieter than anything I'd seen all day.

I'd sat in a traffic jam at Cattlemen Road and University Parkway at about 3 p.m. for at least three traffic light cycles. Shoppers at Macy's at the Mall at University Town Center were packed into the department store like children on a school bus. Nine people stood in front of me when I checked out at Best Buy and six were between me and caffeine at the Target Starbucks. Target looked like a cyclone had obliterated its stash of Hotwheels, Thomas the Tank Engine, holiday cookie supplies and even car air fresheners.

All that, and I still needed a gift.

I met the Kohl's night manager as I walked into the store about 12:30 a.m. When I told him about the blank spot on my Christmas list and he directed me to "Presentville."

He told me if I liked my brother a lot, I could get him a drone, which had been popular among shoppers. If I didn't, they had a wide range of gag gifts -- pretzel-shaped flasks, garden gnomes taking selfies or a toilet seat cover featuring Santa's face. But I knew there was no need to rush. I'd already done the holiday chaos once that day. I promised my editor I'd stay at the store well into the night. I had plenty of time to decide.

I circled back to the front, and found Divad Hankins, who was pushing a cart near the jewelry counter at about 12:40 a.m. She was shopping for her coworkers because she had waited to the last minute. Hankins needed to have their gifts wrapped and ready to go by her shift the next morning. She'd picked out a couple of headsets and a bracelet. If she was lucky, everything would be wrapped and she'd be ready for bed some time before 3 a.m.

A few yards away Neida Esquivel and her boyfriend were loading up a cart. They both worked in the restaurant and grocery world, and neither had much time for Christmas shopping. Those industries operate like a family, Esquivel said, and she had a list of about 15 people targeted for something special. …

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