How did your family handle Christmas Shopping? Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?
I know of no one in our family that ever waited until December 24 to start shopping. I don't know when they shopped for me although I occasionally found evidence around the house in a "hiding place" or two that Santa had made an early delivery. We did a lot of the shopping for my brothers and their families in Tupelo. Mom tended to be one of those persons who thought everyone needed clothes for Christmas. By the time I was buying gifts, I made sure that my nephews and later my nieces had something besides clothes among their gifts. Before Amory had a Wal-Mart, we usually went to Fred's or to what was my favorite dollar store in town, V. J. Elmore's. This particular dollar store had a certain "smell" to it. They also had some loose wooden boards in the floor in the toy section. I think I just enjoyed the experience of being in that dollar store and looking through the little bins at all the toys they had. I think we had a store called Hi-Lo there for awhile, but I wasn't very fond of it. There was also a Sterling's Dollar Store that went into the Glendale Shopping Center by what was then the A & P. For clothes shopping in Amory, I remember visiting Black's. There was also the Dorothy Mae shoppe. I think that was what it was called back then. Another store in town that usually had better clothes was the Casulaire, but we rarely purchased clothes there. Their markup was probably 20% over what you'd pay for the same thing in Tupelo at Reed's. If we shopped for Dad, we'd usually start at Anthony's Men's Shop in Amory, but we sometimes ended up at McCullough Long McCullough in Tupelo or at Reed's. Mom would always have a few ingredients for Christmas foods that she'd have to pick up at McCullen's Grocery Store. They were the only store in town that had some of the specialty ingredients. They used to take orders from people and deliver them also. When the first mall came to Tupelo, we thought we'd hit the big time. It was anchored by Sears on one end and by Brett's on the other. I don't remember all the shops that were in it, but it was a lot of fun to shop in the mall. Later, a second mall came to Tupelo. They had a Woolco on one end and J.C. Penney on the other. I don't remember which mall had Kress, but it was like a super-size dollar store, if I remember correctly. Both malls would figure into our Christmas shopping.
When I went to college, I began shopping in Memphis for Christmas. There was a lot of variety there. I will never forget my first year living in Cincinnati (the first of two times). I was in graduate school, and my roommate and I went downtown where we hit the bargain basements of L.S. Ayres and Shillito's. We also went through the main stores and through some of the indoor malls downtown. Our arms were full, but we did almost all of our shopping in one blitz. After the downtown shopping was not as good, I tended to do a lot of shopping at Kenwood Towne Center. Tri-County Mall or some of the buildings on the outskirts of it is where I'd usually finish it up in the evenings after my major blitz.
Here in East Tennessee, the Tanger Five Oaks Mall in Sevierville is my favorite place to Christmas shop. If they are out of something, I can usually get them to call the Pigeon Forge store (usually in either the Red Roof mall, the Belz mall, or the other Tanger shopping center). I, of course, have a few places that I always want to visit around Christmas time whether or not I buy anything. One of those is One More Stitch which is the cross stitch shop here in Morristown. One is Cracker Barrel's store. They have great ornaments for gifts. Another is the Robert A. Tino gallery in Sevierville. He's a wonderful local artist. I really like to catch the open house sale where you can get 8 x 10 framed prints for $25. Some of the frames are really cool, however, his artwork is exceptional. Le Gourmet Chef in the Five Oaks Mall is one of my favorite shops. I bought Wusthof knives there one year for Mom and for me. I also like some of the gourmet food items they have. I can always get Cafe du Monde beignet mix there. They have some of the Barefoot Contessa's products there as well. Of course, taking a break during shopping to enjoy Starbuck's or Ben and Jerry's is part of the shopping experience!