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Shoppers prowl Grand Forks mall for last gift-buying weekend before Christmas

On the last weekend before Christmas, shoppers began to fill the stores and walkways Saturday morning at Columbia Mall in Grand Forks, taking advantage of moderate weather and easy travel conditions.

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On the last weekend before Christmas, shoppers began to fill the stores and walkways Saturday morning at Columbia Mall in Grand Forks, taking advantage of moderate weather and easy travel conditions.

Some were intent on tackling their gift-buying, others were finishing it up.

Asked who she was buying for, Kristin Pearcy of Thief River Falls, said, "Pretty much everybody."

She and her family were drawn to the city's specialty stores and major sporting goods stores-"stores we don't have at home."

She hoped to find Under Armour products at Scheels, she said.

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But the commercialization of the holidays does not always wear well.

"When you get older, you see how materialized it's become," Pearcy said. "I tell my kids it's about giving. ... If you ask a kid what they got for Christmas last year, unless it was some big thing, they don't remember."

Darci and Mark Gilbertson of Devils Lake came to the mall to shop for clothes for kids.
"Teenagers," she said. "You know how fussy they are."

They had found some "good buys," she said. "I've bought a lot of things I wasn't planning to buy."

With one person left to buy for, they estimated they'd be spending about the same for Christmas gifts as they did last year.

Also traveling a good distance to shop in Grand Forks, John Lundgren and his wife, Melissa, from Wannaska, Minn., were searching for "last-minute stuff that I either forgot to order or (because) I didn't know how close Christmas was," he said.

The couple is spending more on gifts this year, he said, noting that "as the nieces and nephews get older, their tastes get-how would you say-more exclusive."

Although on this shopping trip Lundgren is "just along for the ride," he said. "It's fun to find stuff in a store."

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He was on the lookout for "something sporty for me, but I'm not finding anything, so I'm going with 'it's better to give than receive.' "

Columbia Mall manager Justin Valinski said in an email Friday the shopping center has had a "strong uptick of shoppers since mid-November," helped by a mild winter and Canadian visitors.

Not everyone was bustling from store to store Saturday.

Amber Decker of Dickinson looked relaxed and calm, sitting at a table in the mall's coffee shop while her 2-month-old daughter, Cally, slept in a stroller.

Decker had just purchased gifts for her niece and nephew, she said. "They were the last people I had to finish up. I'm done now. It feels good. That's why I'm enjoying coffee, with a sleeping baby."

She's spending less on gifts this year compared with last year, she said.

Many of her acquaintances seem to have delayed gift-buying. she said.

"Of the people I've talked to, nobody's done- and Christmas is, what, five days from now?"

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Meghan Lorton, Park River, N.D., was looking for clothing and T-shirts to give as gifts to her basketball teammates, she said.

Her grandmother, Joleen Vigen, of Adams, N.D., who was wrapping up her gift-buying, said she was looking for "just odds and ends, or if there's something I see extra."

"(Christmas shopping) was easier this year, more relaxed," she said.

Vigen gets an early jump on Christmas gift-buying.

"I have a large family-five children," she said. "That's why I start in July."

Related Topics: RETAIL
Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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