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Shoppers play beat the clock

| Thursday, Dec. 22, 2005

Many believe the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day for Christmas, but the week leading up to Christmas is full of last-minute shoppers.

Carolyn Funk, assistant manager at the Peebles department store in Mt. Pleasant, said the foot traffic has been pretty good during the shopping season with some weeks exceeding their goals.

"It depends on the weather," Funk said.

Along with additional merchandise and more seasonal help, Funk said the store also had lots of sales and has extended its business hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day this week and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

The shoppers have taken advantage of the extended hours to the point where one called at 8:55 a.m. to tell Funk that she was waiting outside and wanted the store to open five minutes early.

Marty Savanick, owner of Collections by Marty in Scottdale, said she's seen a good number of customers filing into her store since Black Friday.

"We've been pleased," Savanick said.

To prepare for the Christmas shoppers, Savanick said she has been advertising more than ever before, and she also has store specials and coupons.

Savanick said while the number of shoppers is about the same as last year, she has kept her store open until 8 p.m. for the entire month of December and will close at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Linda Sparks, owner of West Side Jewelry in Connellsville, said customer turnout has been more abundant than ever for Christmas.

Sparks also has extended her business hours to accommodate customers, staying open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. instead of her regular 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. hours.

"We're working as long as we can," Sparks said, and added that she also is open on Sunday, a day when she's normally closed.

Sparks also put her store in the Christmas spirit by having a seventh-grade voice club from Connellsville Junior High East sing carols there. She also had a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Along with the extended hours, Sparks hired additional seasonal help to provide free gift-wrapping.

Steve Neubauer, owner of Neubauer's Flowers Inc. and Neubauer's II in Uniontown, said there has been a "nice increase over the last year."

Neubauer said what's especially nice about the Christmas shopping season is that this year 30 East Main and The Nemacolin Collection are open, and a shuttle full of out-of-towners from the resort are shopping in Uniontown on a daily basis.

"I think the cooperation of local businesses, the people and (Fayette County Commissioner Joe Hardy's) investment is starting to pay dividends," Neubauer said.

Neubauer said he only keeps his two stores open later in the day for the Christmas events that have occurred every Thursday in December. Many city storekeepers have their stores open until 8 p.m.

While the delivery people for his florist shop vary, Neubauer said he has hired five people for seasonal in-store help for Neubauer's and Neubauer's II, which is his Christmas decor store that will remain open until mid-January or merchandise runs out.

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