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Area stores busy as shopping season begins

STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / November 30, 1998

On your mark, get set, shop! Friday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, marked the start of the holiday shopping season.

On the day following Thanksgiving most stores are stocked with holiday gift-giving ideas, and people are bustling from one store location to another taking advantage of the festive atmosphere and the sales.

At the LaPlace Wal-Mart, hot items have included everything from toys to housewares and appliances, and the customers were off to an early start this year, said Manager Eva Clark.

“This morning I got here at 5, and the customers beat me here,” she said.

“We had closed for Thanksgiving Day last year, also, but I didn’t have customers waiting the next morning. We had a wonderful turnout thismorning, and it gets better every year.”Clark said Wal-Mart has already run out of some popular toy items such as the Furbie. Other toys, bicycles, electronics and clothes are also in highdemand, she said.

To make shopping more entertaining for children, Santa Claus stopped in at Wal-Mart for an early visit, and Clark said he will return for another visit closer to Christmas time.

“It’s going great!” Debra Ferguson said as she waited outside Wal-Mart for her husband to pick her up. “I’ve been getting stuff because we’re going toput up our Christmas tree tonight.”Clark said Wal-Mart had sold several Christmas trees and poinsettias which were displayed in the new 6300 square foot garden center.

Some store owners in the River Parishes said their business will pick up over the course of the weekend as residents return to the area from nearby mall outlets.

“We’ll do better on Saturday and every weekend until Christmas,” said Roussel’s owner Jessie Roussel. “Today everyone’s going to sales at biggerstores and the malls, but people always stop in on their way back.”Even so, Roussel’s on Belle Terre Boulevard in LaPlace was lively with shoppers Friday buying jewelry, antiques and various arts and crafts for the holiday season.

“The customers aren’t just coming in to buy gifts,” Roussel said. “Theywant to decorate their houses for the holidays, and we have great antiques and decorations for houses.”Roussel’s has expanded in size since its move from Airline Highway a couple years ago, and Roussel said the customers have enjoyed the expansion.

“We are able to display more merchandise, and now we have more casing for the jewelry,” he said. “The customers can see everything better, andwe have twice as much gifts and furniture.”Some of the new space was occupied by a winter village display which will be sold in parts. Diamonds have been the big seller at Roussel’s thisyear, as diamond sales have doubled since last year at this time, Roussel said. The Seraphim Classics Angel collection has also been dubbed a hotitem, he said.

“This is the number one collectible item in the River Parishes, and every year they make a new one, so it’s a limited edition,” he said.

Karen Mullins, manager of Stage in LaPlace, said she also anticipates an increase in store traffic upon the return of area residents to the River Parishes from mall locations.

“We’re slower than I hoped we’d be today, but people usually go to the malls first, and then they come back this way,” Mullins said. “One place Iwould not want to be today is Toys R Us.”Until 1 p.m. Friday, all merchandise in the Stage store was marked 15percent off, and by signing up for a Stage card, customers received an additional 10 percent off their purchase.

Athletic shoes and children’s products and apparel were in demand by the customers, especially with the shoe sale at Stage, Mullins said. Inaddition to the holiday 15 percent discount, shoes were buy one pair, get another pair half off.

“I’m here to take advantage of the shoe sale,” said customer Darryl Jordon of LaPlace.

Jeanne Keller, shopping with her granddaughter, Monique, added: “We’re finding everything we need!”

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