Lori Marranca is not the sort of person who likes to forge through the crowds and shop at a mall. Unless it’s the day after Christmas.
That’s her traditional exception. She goes with her daughter and niece and joins the throngs with presents to return, gift cards to cash in and an eye out for 50 percent price cuts and the buy-one-get-one-free deals.
“The bonding is fun. … We’re out sitting and having a good time,” she said from a table at the Walden Galleria food court full of people. “I always take the day off, no matter what. If I had to go to work, I’d probably die.”
Post-Christmas shoppers, fueled by gift certificates, sales and the desire to just hang out, were out in force Thursday as local malls – from the Galleria to McKinley Mall to Boulevard Mall – had good numbers in the parking lots and stores.
A morning snowfall that slowed some people down was an opportunity for the ones who made it and had the stores to themselves at first.
“We’re a little bit busier this year,” said Betsey Bonvissuto, the Boulevard Mall’s marketing director. “It seems to be a very good day so far.”
While it was too soon to tell whether sales would rise above last year’s, it seemed possible numbers would be slightly better, she said.
“We’re optimistic,” Bonvissuto said. “We’re hopeful.”
McKinley Mall Manager Jeff Ohle said his mall was busy, too. “Traffic is very strong,” he said. “This is probably a typical year.”
Like Marranca, Wendy Haseley of Lockport has a tradition of heading to the Walden Galleria with her family the day after Christmas.
At a little after 1 p.m., they paused with their collection of bags at some benches to go over their finds. Daughter Abby got a Fossil bag for $100 instead of $150. Rebecca scored a pair of Uggs boots for $116 instead of $160. Haseley thought she made out the best at the buy-two-get-two-free bra sale.
“Sorry, the bras beat it,” Haseley said. “Everybody got lucky today.”
Coming to the mall together after Christmas adds to the fun of getting gift cards as part of their exchange of presents. “We get all the money in gift cards, and we get to absolutely blow them,” said Abby Haseley.
Making the morning trip from Lockport in the snow had turned out to be a good move. They felt like they had the stores to themselves, and after a couple of hours, by the time there was more of a crowd, they were already finished. “It’s worth it to come up here and not have quite so many people,” Haseley said. “Now we’re going to head home, eat lunch and relax.”
At another bench farther down, Tyrone Sullivan played with his toddler grandson Jayani Yannik while his wife exchanged her phone at Best Buy. After the errand, they would be going home to relax and rest. Shopping on a popular day like this was too much.
“This is like the day after Thanksgiving,” he said. “One of the worst days.”
But for Marge Poliseno’s and her 9-year-old niece, Giana Ferrucci, the day was one of the best. Poliseno lives in Florida and coming to the mall the day after Christmas is one of their family traditions.
As they waited for a cinnamon pretzel to bake at the pretzel stand, Giana showed off a pillow with leopard spots, sequins and pink fuzz in the shape of the letter “G.” It would go with the pink beanbag chair she got for Christmas.
“I like spending time with my aunts,” she said, “and getting new things.”
Poliseno smiled happily. “She knows how to twist us around her finger,” she said.
At the food court, Marranca, her daughter and niece thought over their shopping-after-Christmas routine. Milena, 15, joked that she could track the years by the number of stuffed bears she had from the Build-A-Bear shop.
This year she had put a sparkly dress on hold at Lord & Taylor for a school dance with her father. It was $104 instead of $290 and one of the general discoveries on these annual outings: There are great deals to be had on formal dresses for proms and dances.
“Strange things that you wouldn’t think you would buy do tend to fall upon us,” Marranca said.
There are many reasons why she liked being at the mall on this afternoon. For one, there’s less pressure to buy. “You’re not looking for somebody else,” she said. “Today you can be selfish and buy your own stuff.”
She was glad about the half-price Christmas cards she bought along with holiday lights for her new house. Next she was curious to check out the clothes at Old Navy. And they’d probably go look at Victoria’s Secret with its pricey yoga pants. She jokingly warned her daughter, “Over my dead body would you buy $95 yoga pants.”
Maybe it was more fun to be out shopping and people-watching with family and friends because the post-Christmas spirit was less intense than the pre-holiday rush.
“We all come together. It’s fun to be with all of us,” she said. “There’s strength in numbers.”