Shoppers hit mall in search of Christmas deals

Ursula Watson
The Detroit News

Dearborn — Prime spots close to the entrance of big box retailers were in short supply as shoppers streamed into Fairlane Town Center on Saturday grabbing up items on the last weekend before Christmas Day.

The mall filled with consumers searching for the perfect gift for those special someones 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 of tackling her Christmas shopping.

"I am a school teacher. I teach performing arts," said Hudnall of Detroit. "We just got our bonus checks. I am not going to finish my shopping today. I might do some Sunday or Monday."

Unlike last year, Hudnall avoided the mall during Black Friday as a form of economic protest.

The Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition called for a national boycott of Black Friday, a major U.S. shopping holiday after Thanksgiving, and throughout the weekend to protest the shooting deaths of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York City by police officers.

Gevonchai Hudnall, 24, takes a break from shopping as she listens to her son, Corey Ervin, III, 5, both of Detroit, read the Disney book, "Frozen."

On Nov. 24, a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the August 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.

And on Dec. 3, a grand jury decided not to indict a New York City police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, who was stopped by police on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. Amateur video captured an officer wrapping his arm around Garner's neck and wrestling him to the ground. Garner was heard gasping, "I can't breathe" before he loses consciousness and later dies.

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

Catherine O'Malley, manager 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," said O'Malley. "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 in the hopes of snagging a pair.

The shoes retail at $200 for adults.

Many athletic shoe stores held raffles where the winners would have a pair held for them to purchase.

Raffle winner Dwight Trammer, 21, was heading to Foot Locker to buy his Air Jordans.

Trammer of Madison Heights, said he once lived in the Dearborn-area and comes to Fairlane Town Center sometimes to shop.

This year Trammer said he's nearly finished with his holiday shopping but said he has headed to the mall two days before Christmas.

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," said Johnson. "I have one more thing to get my lady, that I will probably get on Tuesday. It will be good."

Bill Tonak, left, 70, of Westland, buys a gift with the help of MJ Pandora Boutique store manager Allye Dudas, 20, of Wyandotte.

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 mintue dash to a crowded mall isn't a problem.

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

Mother and daughter Nannette and Kamaria Johnson, 25, both of Detroit, said they had already purchased all their gifts for folks on their lists.

"We have taken care of every body, so we are out looking for ourselves," said Nannette.

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