Return to the scene

NILES – To paraphrase the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find you can exchange it for what you need.

This was the tune at the Eastwood Mall Friday afternoon as shoppers returned from a holiday intermission in their shopping.

“Probably a lot of people are making returns,” Howard Love of Warren said.

He sat on a bench in the mall with his granddaughter Alyssa Shepard, 8, of Middlefield. Shepard chimed in that she had a return of her own to make – an Easy-Bake Oven.

“The food wasn’t that good,” she said.

Farther down the hallway, watching the constant stream of shoppers, Waymond Stovall, 82, of Warren, was also resting on a bench outside of a bookstore.

“I got an exchange done,” he said. “There was only one person ahead of me.”

Not all the shoppers were out to make returns or exchanges, though. Leave it to the retailers to find a way around a Christmas morning deadline for the holiday shopping season; increased post-holiday sales and freshly unwrapped gift cards brought many out to the complex to spend.

“Before there wasn’t a lot (of sales) and now there’s a lot,” Heidi Myers, 18, of Vienna, said.

She and best friend Chyanna Carbone, 17, of Cortland were taking advantage of the sales to buy each other late Christmas presents. They said after-Christmas is a better time to shop without having to worry about ordering items online or fighting through larger crowds at the mall.

Carbone said they were also at the mall using up her Subway gift card.

According to the National Retail Federation, this holiday season eight in 10 shoppers purchased gift cards as presents, spending an average of about $163 on the cards, up from last year’s approximate $156 in gift cards. The NRF estimated total spending on gift cards would reach $29.8 billion this holiday season.

“Oh yeah, I spent my gift card already,” said Scott Mansfield of Johnston, pointing to a bag at his feet.

He said he makes his way out to the mall occasionally and was glad to have received a gift card for the holidays.

“I’m not picky though,” he said.

Rick Fischer of Hermitage, Pa., said he’s not a super shopper either. Friday he left the shopping to his wife and sister while he waited outside the store where they were shopping.

What brought his family out to the mall after Christmas? “The gift cards and the privilege of some of the sales,” he said.

His role for the day requires less bargain hunting and more patience.

“I’m the bag carrier and the baby sitter,” he said.