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Shoppers fill stores in bargain hunt

Post-Christmas shoppers swamped Brookhaven retail outletsTuesday to spend gift cards, take advantage of sliced prices andmake exchanges.

“We’re spending her money,” said Sherry Davis, who laughed whilepointing to her mother.

Davis was browsing the apparel at Castles with her mother JeanRicks and daughter Whitney Brown Tuesday. Davis had given Ricks agift certificate to the store for Christmas.

Although Ricks was the only one using a gift certificate, allthree women would leave the store with new clothing.

Most shoppers Tuesday, however, were making exchanges, saidCathy Franck, the store’s owner.

Those with gift certificates or Christmas cash to spendgenerally wait until today, when most women’s and children’sapparel stores in Brookhaven begin their half price sale, shesaid.

“We do it every year. It’s a tradition started by Harold Wilson,who owned Lane’s, about 25 years ago,” Franck said. “It begins Dec.27 each year and lasts through January.”

Ricks said they were aware of the sale and intended to returntoday for the sale, but there were some specific items they wantedto purchase.

“We’re going to buy some stuff today,” she said. “We can’t waituntil tomorrow or it may be gone.”

Franck said business had been good Tuesday and topped a strongChristmas season at the store.

“It was great,” she said. “It was better than last year and wewere able to meet all our goals.”

Some businesses, however, reported a slight slump in sales from2005.

Joe Wallace, owner of Brookhaven Sound and Music Company, saidhis store posted strong holiday sales, but the numbers were notquite as brisk as last year.

He said the influx of Hurricane Katrina evacuees to the area in2005 probably boosted his sales in 2005. This year comparedfavorably with previous years at the store, though.

“Most of our Christmas stuff is geared to the beginner,” saidTyler Bridge, an assistant manager at the store. “We’ll stay busynow with lessons and all the accessories.”

The music store doesn’t see many exchanges after Christmas,Bridge said.

Salesmen at the store typically try to discourage parents orrelatives from purchasing an instrument or accessory for someoneunless they know exactly what is wanted, Bridge said.

“Musicians can be pretty picky about their instruments,” Wallacesaid.

Instead, Bridge said, they encourage the purchase of giftcertificates.

“We did have a good many gift certificates come in today,”Wallace said.

Generally, Wallace said, those who receive the gift certificatesare excited about getting an instrument and want to select itimmediately. It is unusual for a gift certificate from the storenot to be brought in within a week after the holiday.

The holidays do more than generate income at Brookhaven Soundand Music Company, however. They also renew old acquaintances.

“We get to see a lot of friends that we only get to see once ayear,” Bridge said.

Wayne Dunaway, of Highland Ranch, Col., and Shane Short, ofDallas, have visited the store every year for the past threeyears.

The tradition began when Short forgot his guitar while comingfor the annual family holiday. Now, the two men leave their guitarsat home and spend some time in the store after Christmas.

“You can’t get a guitar on the plane and feel it’s safe,”Dunaway said. “It’s too far to come with a guitar.”

The two out-of-state visitors don’t forget to show theirappreciation for the free jam session, though.

“We always buy at least some little things,” Dunaway said.