Capital Region

Cheer infectious in last-minute shoppers

Shoppers take varying approaches as holidays' gift-buying, anxiety climaxes
Jayce Varney, 5, of South Glens Falls, poses with Santa tugging his beard on Sunday at the Wilton Mall.
Jayce Varney, 5, of South Glens Falls, poses with Santa tugging his beard on Sunday at the Wilton Mall.

Shoppers in Saratoga Springs and throughout the Capital Region were making their final rounds of retailers on Sunday, many with their final purchases before going home to prepare for their holiday celebrations.

On Sunday afternoon at the Wilton Mall, dozens of shoppers, some carrying two or three shopping bags per hand, navigated through the crowded shopping center.

Some stood in a long line with their children to meet and take pictures with Santa Claus, and others gathered around volunteers who were working at gift-wrapping tables, where shoppers could have their gifts wrapped upon making a donation to a charity.

Danielle Maiello, of Greenfield and Gail Sharp, of Galway, were shopping together at the Wilton Mall on Sunday. As the two finished up their holiday shopping, Sharp noted that while avoiding last-minute shopping is a goal to have, sometimes her work hours don’t let her get her shopping done as early as she would like.

For Maiello, a large family was the factor that kept her from getting all her shopping done before Sunday.

“I have four kids. I just didn’t have time,” Maiello said.

Dominique Cadet, of Saratoga, was having his packages wrapped at one of the volunteer stations at the Wilton Mall.

He had already finished his shopping and was getting his gifts wrapped at the mall so his wife would be surprised.

If he had wrapped the gifts in his home, Cadet said, his wife could have accidentally wandered in and seen the gifts he was going to give her, including a joke gift he was having wrapped at the mall.

“I don’t shop last minute. This just makes life easy,” Cadet said, of the mall wrapping station.

Other shoppers opted to head to downtown Saratoga Springs for their Sunday before Christmas. Throngs of people gathered in stores in Broadway, with lines often stretching the length of the store on the inside.

For some, the day was simply a chance to spend time with loved ones during the holiday season. 

At G. Wilikers Toys on Broadway, Kathy Pelkey, from East Hoosick, was browsing the shelves of colorful toys with her adult daughters.

“We’re having a mother-daughters day. With a little late shopping,” Pelkey admitted.

Carol Stock, of Rexford, was shopping for herself in Mountainmain Outdoor Supply Company on Broadway with a gift card. Having already completed her holiday shopping, Sunday was a day to treat herself.

“This is for me. Everyone else is done,” Stock said.

Angela Bovina, also of Saratoga, was having her presents wrapped at the Wilton Mall mall. She and her husband, Tony, stood with a shopping cart filled to the brim with boxes, and chatted with volunteers as they covered the gifts in a glittery gold paper.

Christmas, Bovina explained, is a carefully coordinated event for her family. Each year, they wrap all of the gifts in the same wrapping paper and extensively decorate their home and Christmas tree. For their first Christmas together as a married couple, she said, her husband covered all of the gifts in green wrapping paper, and attached a long-stemmed red rose to each gift.

Bovina added that she and her husband have been bringing their gifts to the mall to be wrapped for years because it was convenient. With the wrapping done, Angela Bovina said, she is able to focus on other aspects of the holiday, including cooking, and her husband can focus on decorating and organizing the living room.

Though they enjoy the holidays, the mall-wrapping is just a perk that makes the entire process more convenient.

“It’s like a huge weight off my shoulders. Everybody is happy,” Angela Bovina said.

“It’s very nostalgic,” Tony Bovina added.

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