Many happy returns: Post-holiday sales attract crowd to malls

For the past 12 years, Willie Cooley, daughter Donna Graham and granddaughter Heather Graham have headed to Greenwood Park Mall the day after Christmas.

The southsiders got to the mall at 7:30 a.m. and spent about eight hours together. Typically, their agenda includes shopping, going out to dinner, then shopping some more as a way to spend time with each other, while also finding great deals.

The outing has become such an important holiday tradition that Donna Graham’s husband gives her money for Christmas to spend during the shopping spree.

“We always get money for Christmas. My husband always gives me money because it’s easier than him trying to shop and me not liking (what he bought),” Donna Graham said.

Thousands of people eager to spend money and gift cards they received as gifts head to malls, shopping centers and retail stores for after-Christmas sales. Many were returning what they didn’t like or exchanging clothing that didn’t fit.

For families, the day is often more about spending time together than about shopping.

“We’re just having a good time together,” said Betsy Tapp of Indianapolis, who came to the mall with her mother while the rest of their family stayed home.

Jennifer Rhea and her daughter Karsyn, both of Mooresville, came to the mall but left Karsyn’s three brothers at home so the girls could shop in peace.

But the deals were a bonus.

The Grahams typically look at advertisements to see what is on sale but usually don’t shop with specific items in mind. This year, Cooley found a blouse for $3 and towels on sale.

Many stores at Greenwood Park Mall opened at 7 a.m. But the crowd was not as large as in the past, according to Megan Bailey, director of marketing and business development for the mall.

At 10 a.m., shoppers could still find parking spaces relatively close to store entrances. By lunch, more shoppers had filled the parking lots, but most stores had no more than five people in line at each register.

But there were a few lines. Shoppers at Von Maur started a line before the doors opened at 10 a.m.

Chad Walker of Avon was one of 15 people in line at GameStop, where people were picking up the games that Santa did not give them the day before.

His son Nick wanted to buy some video games with a gift card he had received, and their family made a trip of it. While Chad Walker waited in line at the game store, his wife and daughter shopped for clothes.

Families traveled anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to get to the mall for day-after-Christmas specials.

Mary Little of New Castle came to the mall to stock up on skillets. She received a skillet from her daughter at Christmas and liked it so much that she decided to buy the rest of the set, she said.

While some came to shop for specific items, others were finishing up their holiday shopping. Debbie Carver of Whiteland came to the mall with her mother, Joyce Reuter, to get last-minute gifts for a holiday celebration this weekend.

The mother-daughter duo had to return items, so they grabbed the remaining items on their Christmas list. Carver said she was able to take advantage of after-Christmas sales and finding stocking stuffers and other gifts for family.