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Thursday, December 25, 2003



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DEAN SENSUI / DSENSUI@STARBULLETIN.COM
Last-minute shoppers were clogging the walkways at Ala Moana Center around 10 a.m. yesterday.


Shoppers hit stores
in 11th hour

Thousands crowd Ala Moana
seeking gifts for family, friends
and themselves


Last-minute shoppers like Rocky Higgins endured the holiday bustle as he and thousands of others searched for gifts at Ala Moana Center.

"I'm kind of a last-minute specialist," said Higgins, of Hawaii Kai, as he contemplated purchasing a 19-inch television that includes a DVD and VCR at the Sears electronics department as a Christmas present for his 15-year-old son, Sam. "I don't mind the crowds."

Some shoppers at Ala Moana Center hustled to wrap up their shopping on Christmas Eve, while others were just getting started.

Higgins said he still had to pick up a bottle of Estee Lauder perfume for his wife and a few more stocking stuffers. "I drive my wife crazy," he said of his procrastination. "My wife is a year-round shopper."

Cheryl Chandler, of Aiea, arrived at the mall at 8 a.m. to do all her Christmas shopping yesterday. Chandler, a nurse manager at Kaiser Medical Center in Moanalua, said she waited until the last minute because of her busy work schedule.

"It's going to be a full day," said Chandler, carrying bags filled with items from Illuminations and Macy's.

Like Chandler, Ewa resident Dean Smith also started his Christmas shopping yesterday, purchasing a Power Rangers toy from the Disney Store for his friend's son.

"To me there is no pressure," said Smith, who had about a dozen relatives and friends to buy gifts for. "You do it and that's it. There's no second chance."

Customers formed a line to the cash registers in KB Toys, where Annette Gardner, of Makiki, looked for presents to give her 4-year-old granddaughter, Kaimaile.

"She was the hardest for me," Gardner said as she held a couple of Leap Pad reading activity books for her.

Other shoppers, like Bruce and Vanessa Hicks, of Pearl City, ended up purchasing Christmas gifts for themselves. Vanessa Hicks said she bought a pedometer from Sharper Image and bags and wallets from Macy's.

"It's for me and my daughter," Hicks said with a laugh.

Sharyn Smith, of Ahuimanu, said she arrived at Ala Moana Center at 7:15 a.m. yesterday to eat breakfast at Zippy's to prepare for a full day of shopping.

"I always tell myself I'm going to start early," said Smith, a retired public housing specialist with the Housing and Community Development Corp. of Hawaii. "I don't know what it is."

After finishing his Christmas shopping a week ago, Lawrence Debina, of Mililani, enjoyed his day with his 20-month-old son, Nainoa, as they waited in line to see Santa Claus, who sat near Ala Moana's CenterStage.

"I promised Nainoa to see Santa and ride the train," he said. "We saved the best for last."

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