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Crunch time for Christmas gifts

Shoppers explore the stores and restaurants at the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall in Winchester on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily (Buy photo)

Jarret Chiraifisi and Erika Knaebel, both of Winchester, do some last minute shopping at the Pedestrian Walking Mall in Winchester on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily (Buy photo)

Pewter Pan owner Janie Nichols says many shoppers have been spending some money this year. "They said, 'Oh, what the heck, let's just shop." Andrew Thayer/Daily (Buy photo)

Glenn Kages: "You never know when you can start for next year ...The day after Christmas is always the best day to start your shopping." Andrew Thayer/Daily (Buy photo)

Caren Meckles shares here holiday shopping philosophy: "I shop for hand-made items throughout the year ... if it says, "Made in China" on the bottom, it's more than likely not in my gift bags." Andrew Thayer/Daily (Buy photo)

Last-minute shoppers filled city stores on the final weekend before holiday

By Preston Knight - pknight@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- That last-ditch effort to find the perfect gift at the perfect price is a holiday tradition with a few days left to celebrate.

While not reeking of desperation just yet, the countless number of people who took to Apple Blossom Mall, the big box stores and the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall on Saturday were still cutting it close for the big gift exchanges that will occur at week's end. It's a situation some people cannot seem to avoid, while others make a concerted effort to stay away from.

"I shop for hand-made items throughout the year," said Caren Meckes, of Winchester. "Everywhere, every state, craft fairs, flea markets, recycled products. If it says, 'Made in China' on the bottom, it's more than likely not in my gift bags."

She enjoys purchasing hand-made items or making her own gifts, freeing herself from possible last-minute gift stress. Friends who were visiting from Denton, Md., seemed to share that mind-set.

"You never know when you can start for next year," said Glenn Kages, who was in the city with his wife, Tricia. "The day after Christmas is always the best day to start your shopping."

Black Friday is a popular day as well, and normally ushers in a new year of holiday shopping. The craziness attached to it -- stampedes and fighting at locations across the country -- makes last-minute shopping a little more appealing, however. There are people on the other side of the register who certainly favor days like Saturday.

"One-hundred-five percent," said Debbie Akkerdaas, who owns Fabulous Finds on the walking mall with her husband, E.J.

She said her antiques, decor and boutique shop was busy Saturday, and had much better traffic than last year. It was a common opinion among people in several stores as they recalled a couple of feet of snow on the ground the same time last year. Of course, if everyone got their shopping done earlier, there would be no comparisons.

Terri Nelson, of Winchester, was one shopper who didn't have to worry about either day.
"I did most of my shopping online this year," she said.

Nelson said not wanting to drag herself or her children out into the cold to shop, and not having a lot of spending money, sent her to the Internet early. She has tried to instill in her children an appreciation of the real meaning of Christmas anyway, and their church even did a play showing how something like Black Friday did not represent the spirit of the holiday.

Nelson's daughter Rileigh, 10, had a solo in that play. But she also has a little shop-a-holic in her.

"I like to shop," Rileigh said, jumping up and down.

Saturday was a good day to do it, and, according to Pewter Pan owner Janie Nichols, many shoppers, last-minute and early birds alike, have been spending some money this year, seemingly tired of fretting over the economy.

"They said, 'Oh, what the heck, let's just shop.'"

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