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Published: 12/25/2005

'Twas day before Christmas, mostly men filled the stores ...

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Tim Menard of West Toledo does last-minute shopping at Westfield Franklin Park. Many shoppers yesterday were men. Tim Menard of West Toledo does last-minute shopping at Westfield Franklin Park. Many shoppers yesterday were men.
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Jeff Osterhout of Delta and his daughter, Tessa, 9, didn't plan to wait until the last minute; it just worked out that way. Jeff Osterhout of Delta and his daughter, Tessa, 9, didn't plan to wait until the last minute; it just worked out that way.
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Tim Menard had 10 people to buy Christmas presents for yesterday and about eight hours left in which to do it.

"I'll be here as late as they'll let me," the West Toledoan said as he walked through Westfield Franklin Park toting a few of his early finds. "I get a lot of bargains by shopping on the last day - and a lot of gift cards, too."

Mr. Menard had quite a bit of company at the mall yesterday. And as is often the case on Christmas Eve, a lot of that company was male.

These were the times that sent men shopping.

"I've seen a lot of guys in here the last two days," said Kasey Knight, a clerk at Claire's Boutiques, a store offering jewelry, cosmetics, and an assortment of other merchandise that primarily attracts young women the other 363 days of the year.

Their purchases, Ms. Knight said, run heavily toward jewelry: "It's kind of a grab-and-go thing."

In the waning days of shopping season, J. Foster Jewelers "becomes a store of men," agreed Linda Smith, the manager at Foster, where three owners of Y chromosomes were waiting outside when the door opened at 8 a.m. yesterday.

"Many of them say they're just finishing up their Christmas shopping and need one little thing," Ms. Smith said. But sometimes "they do fess up" and admit they've only just begun, she said.

Ron Vail of Sylvania said he visits the Foster shop every Christmas Eve.

"This is my usual routine: last minute," he said. "I come here each year a few nights before Christmas to pick out what I'm going to get, then I come here the last day and buy it."

Mr. Vail said he's just too busy putting up the Christmas tree, wrapping gifts his wife buys, and making other holiday preparations to do his shopping earlier in the season.

Other last-minute men offered a variety of explanations.

"I'm watching sports, or I'm working," said Mr. Menard, who drives a local truck route for USF Holland. "I've been working a lot of overtime lately."

"I've just been putting it off and procrastinating," conceded Austin Prater, a Westfield Franklin Park patron who acknowledged his fiancee had begun shopping "probably weeks ago."

Mr. Prater's early efforts yielded two sacks of pillows from Brookstone, which he said were for his girlfriend and his mom.

"Women like to take naps," he said.

Another shopper, Larry Young of East Toledo, said a lack of funds kept him from the stores earlier. Mr. Young was shopping with his wife, Sharon, at The Andersons in Northwood. Mr. Young said his boss doesn't pass out Christmas bonuses until the last minute.

"I already got my present - my son came home from Iraq," he said.

"I work construction, and I had a little job I was doing," said Jeff Osterhout, from Delta, who was shopping at Franklin Park with his daughter, Tessa, for gifts for his wife and son.

"You waited until the last minute," Tessa said.

"Yeah, but I don't like to," Mr. Osterhout responded. "My Christmas Club check comes in six weeks before, and I try to get going. Of course, this is by no means the first time this has happened."

Ms. Smith, the jewelry store manager, said that on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the shoppers are overwhelmingly "women who want the sales, and like the hustle and bustle" of shopping.

Tim Gadus, a deadline shopper at The Andersons, said that's exactly why he stays home on Thanksgiving Friday, while his wife wakes up at 2:30 a.m. to be at the mall's doors at 5.

"I stay home with the kids while she goes shopping, and if there's any money left over at the end, then I go out and buy a few things," Mr. Gadus said. "Going the day after Thanksgiving is her opening day the way the first day of deer season is for me."

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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