Last-minute shoppers keep merchants busy

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson From left, Chris Grah, Taylor Austin and Roger Grah move a piano to deliver to a customer in time for Christmas delivery from Penny Lane Saturday. Store owner Pat Grah said business had been good over the week leading up to Christmas.

Kevin Wilson

’Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the town, residents browsed and put their cash down.

From big shops to small, Saturday was a busy day for shoppers and merchants alike for the final shopping day of the Christmas season.

“It has been good for the last few days … every booth is selling a lot of different things,” said Elwanda Bell, owner of A Little Bit of Everything, one of numerous Main Street shops in Clovis that feature booths rented by even smaller merchants. “One thing we’re finding is many people wait until the last week to shop.”

Chain stores were busy, and the North Plains Mall was loaded with traffic far outweighing most Saturdays.

“Yesterday was really busy, and today’s been nice,” said Ronnie Halim, who runs a “Super Toys” shop full of radio-controlled flying toys.

On the other side of the mall, Duane Chase and his father, John Chase, were grabbing gift cards for coworkers’ children and weighing the possibility of a TV.

Chase, who runs Pack and Mail, said working at a shipping store means the month leading up to Christmas is always busy and hectic.

“I’m so glad that I’m not working 18 hours a day,” Chase said. “It’s a relief (to be shopping) no matter what the rush is like.”

Most stores at the North Plains Mall declined comment on the shopping day, citing a need to clear media interviews through corporate offices closed on weekends.

Down on Main Street, Airman 1st Class Barton Teeters was having a relaxed shopping day with his sister Kait Teeter, his father Greg Teeters and his mother Rhonda Alexander. His father and sister came from Lynn, Ind., and his mother Tucson, Ariz., to spend the holiday together.

The family already had some posters and pictures in hand they bought from another shop, and Alexander was checking out a saddle in front of Penny Lane.

“This is the best place to shop,” Alexander said, “because the gifts are unique.”

Barton, an Airman 1st Class stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, concurred.

“It’s stuff that’s unusual,” he said, “stuff that reminds you of family.”