NILES - Finding a parking spot close to an Eastwood Mall entrance can be counted as a Christmas miracle in the final shopping days before the holiday arrives. Bustling crowds of shoppers checking off the final items on their gift lists filled the mall's hallways Sunday afternoon, while worn-out shoppers stopped to rest on benches throughout the mall.
Two shoppers taking a break in the food court were Maura Dixon, 15, and her sister Kate Dixon, 22, both of Warren.
"I feel like if you're shopping this late," Kate Dixon said, "you don't really have a strategy."
Dennis Raschilla, of Mineral Ridge, far left, flips through a store catalog for Christmas gift ideas as other shoppers move through the mall’s main concourse.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
The sisters described their tiring experiences saying, "you're always trying to maneuver into small places."
Samantha Johnston, a sophomore from McDonald, described her shopping as "stressful," noting the long lines she found in Victoria's Secret. She was shopping with her mother, Sherry Johnson, and her aunt, Heidi Redmond, both of McDonald.
"I'm done now ... ," Redmond said, "or so I think."
The three were headed to Target as their last stop, after which Sherry Johnson said it would take hours to wrap all their gifts.
Gift-wrapping stations were located around the mall to benefit various causes. Becky Thomas was working at one whose proceeds go to Relay for Life. She said her team of about a dozen volunteers began at 9 a.m. and would finish about 9 p.m. Only halfway through the day, they had already wrapped more than 290 gifts.
"Last year was a little slower," Thomas said, "now it's picking up to where we're tired."
Taking a rest on a bench outside of Express were Brent Swipas and his two daughters, Lindsay, 18, and Carli, 12. The group agreed that they were able to find good last-minute sales.
"I think it paid off to wait till the last minute," Swipas said.
The Champion family was on their last leg of shopping. Swipas said they were just waiting for his wife and another daughter to finish in Express.
Don and Alison Stahlheber, of North Benton, were packing up their car about 3 p.m., after having arrived at the mall about 11 a.m. with their young son. The couple said they still have shopping to do. They drove about 45 minutes to the mall, something Alison Stahlheber said "happens only once a year."
"It's slowly gotten more busy," Alison Stahlheber said, "We got here early and it was OK, but now it's hard to walk."
With their son strapped in his car seat and their gifts filling the trunk, the couple was ready to head to their next shopping destination. Despite the mall's hustle and bustle, none of the shoppers reported running into sales associates or other shoppers in bad moods.