Personal Finance

Last-minute shoppers brave a cold, damp day

Not rain, not sleet, not even backed-up traffic kept shoppers from completing their last-minute gift lists Saturday — and socializing, too.

For sisters Sally and Sara Shutler, the raw afternoon weather at the Country Club Plaza was no match for the warmth of a reunion.

“Family and love, that’s what the season is about,” Sara Shutler said. “We’re so happy to be together.”

Her sister had come to Kansas City from Bangor, Pa., to be with relatives and to enjoy the Plaza.

So, was this also an opportunity for last-minute shopping?

“Today is Saturday,” Sally Shutler said with a laugh. “This is not last minute.

“I brought a few things from Pennsylvania, but I’m doing some shopping here too, and spreading the love.”

Around the corner, Cameron and Ruthie Penner of Halstead, Kan., were sheltered from the cold rain beneath a Plaza shop canopy. With the Christmas shopping season six days shorter because of the late Thanksgiving holiday, there was plenty left to do.

“We waited a while to get started,” Cameron Penner said, “but there’s some good deals out there.”

Ruthie Penner said they journeyed from central Kansas to enjoy the Plaza lights Friday night before hitting the wet shopping pavement.

“We wanted to be with family and do some shopping,” she said.

Andrew Reyes traveled from Chicago to visit the Plaza with Laura Munoz of Kansas City. Reyes works at an Anthropology store off Michigan Avenue, and the two were on their way to visit the chain’s Plaza store.

“I work in retail so I can work and shop at the same time,” Reyes said, adding he still needed to find a gift for his dad.

Munoz was making a late effort to find gifts for her parents, and of course there’s always that tough person on the list.

“I need to get my brother out of the way,” she said. “He’s a very difficult person to shop for.”

At Zona Rosa, three friends who work at Harrah’s North Kansas City Casino & Hotel were in the middle of a marathon Saturday. They had worked the overnight shift, refueled with breakfast, and then it was shopping time.

“We got off work and decided it was a good day to go out and shop,” said Sophat Nhep of Liberty. “I did shopping yesterday and the day before, and I’m still not done. My nephews are the last ones to go.”

Working nights helps assure you’re the early bird when it comes to hitting the stores.

“I get off work at 7 or 8 a.m. so I can do my shopping when nobody is around,” Nhep said.

Many stores are staying open extra hours to attract those early, late and in-the-middle shopping dollars.

Whittney Lineberry of Kansas City, one of the Harrah’s group, said this was her fifth time out shopping.

“I was trying to wait for sales when I can get stuff cheaper,” she said.

Joining the after-work group from Harrah’s was Sean Rice of Liberty, who wore the badge of procrastination proudly.

“I’m a last-second shopper, I don’t care,” he said.

Near the big Christmas tree towering over the square at Zona Rosa, a reunion of friends from Great Bend, Kan., was a good excuse to shop, too.

Lindsay Stafford and her fiance, Aaron Zeretzke, had come from central Kansas the night before. They had reunited with a friend from Great Bend, Lindsay Savoie, who lives in Independence.

“I’m doing last-minute shopping for family,” Stafford said. “It hasn’t been stressful; we’re just last-minute people.”

Savoie was just along for fun and friendship.

“I’m all done and my presents are under the tree,” she said.