Shoppers try to get final gifts before it’s too late

and Ursula Watson

Troy — Sandra Barginere is all about a bargain.

Staying true to her tradition, the Detroiter arrived at Oakland Mall on Sunday right when the doors opened. Three hours later, she emerged loaded with bags and a fulfilled gift list.

“I found all that I came for and even better,” said Barginere, adding her only complaint was a shortage in gift boxes. “There are better sales at the end. The stores want to get rid of a lot of stuff.”

Barginere was among those who braved the traffic, crowds and long lines in hopes of snagging last-minute deals and gifts in the final weekend before Christmas Day.

Inside Oakland Mall on Sunday, a line formed for Santa visits in one end of the mall, while children lined up to ride a miniature train in another. At the same time, a steady stream of shoppers funneled in and out, taking advantage of discounts of 50 percent or more, advertised in nearly every storefront.

Iva Spight of Detroit finished her Christmas shopping weeks ago. She said her shopping outing Sunday was pressure free.

“There were no long lines to stand in,” said Spight, who exited the mall on 14 Mile in Troy with her grandchildren and son-in-law, carrying bags full of discounted kids clothing, pajamas and maternity wear. “Today was for fun and to get out of the house and enjoy the weather.”

It was a similar scene Saturday at Fairlane Town Center, where prime parking spots close to the entrance of big-box retailers were in short supply and retailers made sure to entice shoppers with generous discounts.

Clothing stores such as Express offered 50 percent off, while H&M touted 70 percent-off merchandise.

Gevonchai Hudnall was loaded down with shopping bags from the trendy Aldo shoe store. Her 5-year-old son, Corey Ervin III, had just taken photos with Santa.

Hudnall, 24, said Saturday was the first day she was tackling her Christmas shopping.

“I am a schoolteacher. I teach performing arts,” said Hudnall of Detroit. “We just got our bonus checks.”

Unlike last year, Hudnall avoided the mall during Black Friday as a form of economic protest over the police shooting death of Michael Brown in St. Louis and the choking death of Eric Gardner when a New York City officer wrestled him to the ground.

“My mom asked me not to shop,” Hundall said. “If not getting deals showed my support, than that was fine.”

Catherine O’Malley, manager of Fairlane Town Center, said the mall attracts 12 million people annually, with 60 percent of those shopping during the holidays.

“We get a late push,” O’Malley said. “For whatever reason we are a late center. We always gear up knowing that we are going to have that last push.”

One hot item at the top of many lists this season — the new Nike Air Jordan sneakers released Saturday — had thousands across the country lining up or camping out at athletic shoe stores. The shoes retail at $200 for adults.

Patrick Johnson and his 5-year-old son, Jordan, were also at Fairlane to pick up a pair of Air Jordans.

The Redford resident said he finished his shopping last weekend and avoided the madness of Black Friday.

“It is too crazy. I knew somebody was going to get hurt and I wasn’t going to get hurt,” Johnson said. “I have one more thing to get my lady, that I will probably get on Tuesday. It will be good.”

Bill Tonak was at the MJ Pandora Boutique picking up a gift card for his wife. The 70-year-old Westland resident said a gift card is a safe bet.

“Let her pick. My choices are not always the best,” he said.

Tonak said his holiday shopping might not be over but the idea of a last-minute dash to a crowded mall isn’t a problem.

“I enjoy getting out in the crush,” Tonak said. “I like to be in the crowd.”

Cortez Carter had the opposite idea.

The 37-year-old father of three children, ages 21, 18 and 11, said he generally leaves all the holiday shopping to his wife. But Sunday, he ventured out to Oakland Mall to get her a present and said he accomplished his task in 10 minutes.

“That’s how I like it,” said Carter, who left the stores carrying a small silver bag containing his wife’s special gift. “I hate shopping.”

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