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Terri Monahan, an American Greetings merchandiser, was setting up the Valentine^BENT^0027^EENT^s Day cards in the location where the Christmas holiday cards sat a couple of days ago.
Allison Trigger balances an armful of Christmas wrap while shopping at the Central Park Target store on Wednesday. Early icy conditions led some shoppers to do after-Christmas bargain hunting in the afternoon.
BY CATHY JETT
One of Dameron Hallmark's regular customers called before venturing out for its after-Christmas sale on Wednesday.
He wanted to know if it was it snowing in Fredericksburg, said Elizabeth Dameron, who owns the Eagle Village store with her husband, Ray.
"He said it was in Springfield, but he figured the main roads would be OK," she said.
That customer, who always comes in to buy Christmas ornaments and holiday home decor the day after Christmas, wasn't the only one who was worried about road conditions on Wednesday.
While some were waiting in line for the Hallmark store to open, others called to ask Dameron to hold ornaments, Christmas cards and wrapping paper for a few hours. They wanted to wait for the sleet and snow to turn to rain before driving over.
"I generally don't hold things, but today I did for people who said they would be here in an hour or so," Dameron said, noting that the sidewalk at her Spotsylvania home was slippery Wednesday morning.
The nasty weather delayed shopping at many stores throughout the Fredericksburg area, but after-Christmas markdowns and the chance to spend gift cards apparently proved too tempting to keep people away for long. Spotsylvania Towne Centre, for example, was "pretty well packed" by early afternoon, mall manager Mark Gentry said.
"People have wandered out as things have melted off," he said. "It's a pretty busy day. I think we had a phenomenal season."
Among the mall shoppers were Rochelle Weston of New York City, who was in Fredericksburg to visit relatives, and a friend, Mercedes Williams of Curacao, Dutch Antilles. Armed with coupons, they hit the sales at Belk, Best Buy, Macy's and New York & Co., and had accumulated a pile of shopping bags by the time they stopped at the food court for lunch. "We've enjoyed Fredericksburg," Weston said. "It's very laid-back."
The Target in Central Park was fairly quiet early Wednesday morning as employees stocked displays with plastic storage bins. But foot traffic began picking up as the snow turned to rain before noon, store team leader Terrell Thomas said.
"The holiday season decorations and storage bins are really getting shopped hard," he said. "They're taking advantage of our clearance prices and our sales prices."
The sleet and snow had turned to pouring rain by the time customers began lining up outside A Place in Time in downtown Fredericksburg. The gift shop at 804 Caroline St. opened at 10 a.m. and was busy for the first hour, then activity ebbed and flowed, owner Judy Balch said.
"I guess the diehards are out," she said. "The people that are out today are out to shop."
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407