And the shopping begins

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2003

It was mayhem all across the country Friday morning as thousands upon thousands of shoppers filled the shopping malls, quaint boutiques and mega stores; all hoping for the best deal on whatever their hearts desired.

In Andalusia, folks were no different. Taking to the shops and parking lots at sunrise, waiting for the stores to open up and say "Come on in." For many hometown businesses, shopping activity was steady and the registers were ringing.

The Covington Mall, Covington County's largest shopping facility, had a full parking lot and a steady stream of traffic in the shops.

At Leon's, owner Gary Campbell said the day started off good, and shoppers continued to look and buy throughout the morning.

"It's been a really good day, so far," Campbell said around 10 a.m. "We've had a lot of sales, and the early crowd was really good. People have been looking at a little bit of everything and picking up a little bit of it all.

"Jackets and sweaters have been a good item," he continued. "I guess the cool weather is helping with that."

Across the hall at the Children's Shop, owner Elizabeth Wise says business was also good in the children's clothing arena.

"It's been steady this morning," she said. "We've had some good sales, and because we do free gift wrapping, that's probably helped a little too.

"We opened at 7 this morning, and the parking lot was full," she continued. "I hope that's a good sign of the season to come."

Just down a little at Christopher's Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, owner Chris Lawrence said the morning had been busy there as well.

"It started off pretty good," Lawrence said. "We opened at 7 a.m., and we've had a lot of lookers and a lot of people buying."

At Christopher's patrons were looking forward to a special "Trunk Show" that was in the store Friday and Saturday, which featured many designs and pieces unique to the area.

"The show will feature mounts and designs like you would find a Tiffany's, Burgdorff-Goodman's, and other stores in larger cities," he said. "The best thing about that, is that we can offer those same pieces at much lower prices than those stores in the big cities."

That sentiment about lower prices was shared by Donnie Sanders at Sanders' Fine Jewelry, also in the Covington Mall.

"We can offer a large selection at the local stores, with a lower price," Sanders said. "Plus, we offer something those bigger stores don't have - service."

Sanders said hometown businesses offer service second-to-none, and that when you shop at home, you're helping out your own town.

"We take pride in being a hometown business," Sanders said. "A home owned business is able to provide the service and quality that many bigger out-of-town stores can't."

Business was also good at his store.

"Our numbers are already up from last year, and all indicators predict that will continue through the whole holiday season."

At Andalusia Singer Center, owner David McBrayer said business was good for his store as well.

"People have been coming in and buying all morning," he said. "Embroidery machines have been really popular. We've sold a lot of them."

McBrayer was also glad to see the Covington Mall having steady business.

"The mall looks better than it's looked in a long time," he said. "The Straughn Band Boosters are helping out with Santa Claus, and they'll be taking pictures with Santa. The stores look good, and we just want everybody to come and take a look at what we've got to offer."

Across town at Ansley Place, the store was packed with shoppers from all over the county.

Owner Louisa Mann said she was extremely pleased with the day's traffic.

"It's been busy," Mann said. "We're glad to see the cool weather, it just makes it seem more like Christmas."

Taking the Christmas Wish List a step beyond dropping hints, Mann said shoppers could come in the store and fill out an "Ansley Wish List" and give it to their special shopper or Santa.

"It's real easy, and it helps husbands and other shoppers know what their special one wants this Christmas."

Ansley Place is also featuring some unique holiday gifts, along with Walker Business Machines and the Loot - special gifts made from the wood from the old East Three Notch School.

Practical gifts, the items include ink pens, magnifying glasses, trinket boxes and other items.

"These were made out of the wood salvaged from East Three Notch," Mann said. "For someone who really values keepsakes and sentimental items, these would be ideal."