, Salem, MA

December 24, 2012

Beating the gift deadline

Area shoppers go searching for last-minute gifts

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — At Dave’s Hobby Shop on Cabot Street in Beverly owner Dave Greeke can see them coming. Perhaps it’s something about the way they try to read the whole store in one desperate look.

They are the last minute Christmas shoppers and, “They’re looking for ideas,” said Greeke.

He was open yesterday and expects to be open today until 5 p.m. (just in case you haven’t found that gift yet). Often it’s last minute moms trying to locate something perfect for their sons, but frequently it’s dads too, walking the aisles, past the models, craft kits and electronic gear. There’s a lot to choose from which only leaves the shoppers more confused.

Greeke is sometimes asked to make recommendations. “I discourage that,” he said. The problem being there are so many different hobbies represented here. He won’t be responsible for picking the wrong one. And he doesn’t want the products coming back.

“They don’t come back the way they went out,” he complained.

Some forethought might avoid all this. A few subtle questions, some attention to the giftee along with a resolution to do your shopping early could prevent so many problems. But Greeke doesn’t feel qualified to tell others what to do about their Christmas shopping.

He shrugged, “I haven’t done my shopping early.” For that matter, he says he doesn’t have anyone to shop for. “Nobody wants me,” he joked.

It’s not a unique response, as a random survey of North Shore residents proved yesterday. On the other hand, there’s also a sense that many people get their shopping done in advance. In one case a Christmas gift consisted of just being in Salem.

Tina and Art Breslay of Morris, N.Y., are in the Witch City as part of a plan to celebrate Halloween in December.

“We got married at Halloween,” Art explained. “We wanted to come out then. But then the hurricane hit.” They held off, trying to find time in their busy schedule. He decided to schedule the honeymoon for Salem at Christmastime, mixing witches and Santa.

“I said, ‘To hell with it. We’re going,’” he added.

To manage this the pair had to buy gifts early — she has five sons, he has three. “It’s the third marriage for both of us,” said Tina.

If some of those marital choices went wrong, Art was taking no chances when he picked a gift for Tina. “He gave me money for my Christmas gift,” she smiled, “to buy anything I wanted and,” she lifted a shopping bag, “I did.”

He nodded happily to Tina’s bag and noted, “She’s got all weird candles and books in there, witchy books.”

The pair are entranced with Salem and its reputation as a nexus for the occult. Despite the Christmas trees, bulbs and colored lights on Essex Street, Art — who owns a trucking company and comes regularly to the state — judges Salem the most fascinating destination in the commonwealth on account of its devotion to magic spells and people dressed in black.

Tammy Nickerson of Salem was relaxed and smiling as she walked down Essex Street, wearing a holiday pin. “I love Christmas,” she said with a happy grin.

She has eight people on her list needing Christmas gifts. So why is she so relaxed? “I got their gifts about a week ago. So I could enjoy the holiday.”

Others might wait until the “Sale” sign goes up in all the shops, but Nickerson doesn’t believe it’s worth the aggravation. Not that she spends extravagantly. The secret, she hints, is to take the time to find a good gift, reasonably priced.

It could be noted that for all Nickerson’s joy at Christmas not everyone in the family shares her sense of peace. “My husband doesn’t like Christmas so much,” she conceded. “He’s a courier at FedEx.”

On the street in downtown Peabody, Andrea Malo explained that she also did her shopping early. She will be working right up until Christmas Eve so she has to have her buying finished well before that. “I shop all over,” she said. “When I see something the kids will like I buy it.”

Meanwhile, it all stays on layaway until today.

Carlos Castro was doing some trimming yesterday — not the Christmas tree but hair at New Life Cuts on Main Street in Peabody. “I’ve done my shopping already,” he said. He bought one of the latest electronic gizmos for his 12-year-old son.

It’s the only gift he needed to buy. “Right now I’m single,” he explained, giving a small smile. For that matter, he’s not expecting to see Santa tomorrow. “Nobody’s buying anything for me,” he admitted. “I buy for myself.”

It’s one gift you can pick up anytime, he indicates. And the person who gets it is very likely to be satisfied.