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Back for bargains

Auburn stores see strong post-Christmas rush
By: Bruce Warren, Journal Staff Writer
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Post-Christmas sales did well for at least three major Auburn stores as shoppers came out in force by Friday afternoon. Christmas sales at Kmart, off Bell Road, did very well, according to store manager J.D. Stinson, as did sales at Best Buy and Gottschalks. “Friday was packed and better than previous years,” Stinson said. “I’m assuming more people had Friday off this year. Our sales were up 41 percent this past week.” With reports of some stores going out of business, Stinson said cash gift card sales were not as big this year. However, Kmart bike sales did well, as local businessman Jan Haldeman organized a fundraising drive to collect enough donations to purchase 75 bikes that The Salvation Army distributed to needy children as Christmas gifts. “We sold a lot of bikes,” Stinson said. “One organization bought 75 bikes. Our manager Kevin Duffy actually went to six different Kmart stores to collect the bikes.” At 8 a.m. Friday in the Rock Creek Shopping Plaza, about 30 eager shoppers waited outside for doors to open at Kmart, while another handful braved the cold morning at Best Buy, nearby. By mid-afternoon a long cashier line at Best Buy had shoppers stretched out onto the floor with many carrying multiple items. Vicki Derrick, Best Buy manager, said sales have been strong. “We’ve had a very good holiday season and we had very strong sales,” Derrick said Saturday. “Our traffic patterns have been strong the last two weeks.” Best Buy register lines were not as long Saturday afternoon, but business was brisk. “We had to replenish stock,” Derrick said. Some items such as certain digital cameras were out of stock Friday or Saturday. “The Ipods, MP3 players, digital cameras, home theater and gaming were our big sales,” Derrick said. “Our store has met and exceeded all the goals we were given.” Due to Best Buy’s company policy, Derrick could not give specific sales details. One Best Buy customer, Frank Ordaz of Auburn, is happy the store is in Auburn. “We don’t like driving down the hill, especially with the traffic,” Ordaz said. “I’d rather shop in Auburn.” While many shoppers nationwide cut back on Christmas spending, Ordaz was not one of them and said he did not spend less this year. “I feel it’s important to give back to the economy,” Ordaz said. Ordaz visited Best Buy on Saturday to purchase a gift but said he found such a good price on a Samsung camcorder that he decided to buy it. His son had dropped a previous one in the lake, Ordaz added. While national retail sales in general have slumped, Gottschalks Manager Darleen Sibley said Christmas sales in Auburn have done well. “We had a banner week and we’re up compared to this time last year,” Sibley said. “We had 60 to 70 percent off on all items except Levis, fragrances and cosmetics.” Gottschalks’ discounted sales started after Christmas and will continue until Dec. 31. Basic items are the best sellers. “Right now, core items like Levis and underwear are selling,” Sibley said Saturday. “People are shopping for themselves. We’ve seen a huge spike in credit card account openings. Theresa Loveless, Gottschalks shoe-area manager, found post-Christmas discounts bringing hundreds of shoppers to her department. “Friday was nonstop from 6 a.m. to 6 at night,” Loveless said. “Almost all my boots are 50 percent off. I’m low on my size selection because we’ve sold so many.” Adriana Gonzales of Roseville drove all the way to the Auburn Gottschalks Saturday to buy a pair of boots that were 50 percent off. At least Gottschalks Saturday shopper was keeping an eye on spending because of the economy. “I cut down on my gift spending this year about 30 percent,” said Evon Atkins of Auburn. “Just tighter times.” However, Atkins was out shopping after Christmas and said she found some bargains on Friday. Auburn Journal’s Bruce Warren can be reached at brucew@goldcountrymedia.com, or comment online at Auburnjournal.com.