Many happy returns the day after Christmas [The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.]
(Orlando Sentinel (FL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dec. 27--On the day after Christmas, it was better to return than to receive. At area shopping malls, the lines of shoppers told the story:
Wrong size, wrong style, wrong color.
"I thought the earrings and necklace were a nice matched set," lamented Jim Lummus, 34, in the exchange line at Target with his wife. "But she said it was grandmother jewelry."
The jewelry store was their next stop. At the Target on Colonial Drive in Orlando, his wife was returning the Darius Rucker CD she bought him, which turned out to be the old Darius Rucker, not the newest Darius Rucker.
"When we stuck to the list we did fine," said Kimberly Lummus, 35. "It's when we went tried to do something creative on our own where we ran into trouble."
In the exchange lines of mall department stores and discount retailers, the best intentions for Christmas were returned for what the person really wanted, and didn't get. This was where parents were reminded how clueless they are about teen fashion.
"He didn't like the carpenter's pants I got him," said Marla Connor, who was with her 19-year-old son to exchange the pants.
She also bought him a denim shirt that's a large when all he wears are medium plaid flannel shirts, said Jonathan Connor, who traded in the carpenter's pants for Arizona jeans.
The exchange line also was where people admitted to themselves and loved ones that they aren't as small as some people think, or as large. Danny Rodriguez was there exchanging the jeans Tracee Gabriel bought him because he's not as small around the middle as he was before the holidays.
"She knows my size, but I added a few inches by eating too much," said Rodriquez, 37, of Orlando.
In keeping with the "hassle-free" policy of JC Penney, Chad Cronon, 36, had no problem exchanging without any receipts the white shirt and gray slacks his parents gave him for beige pants and a different white shirt.
"I try to help the customer," the sales clerk said. "With me, you're number one."
Those looking to upgrade their Christmas gifts competed for the door-buster, blow-out, final clearance deals with other shoppers who had brand-new gift cards, coupons and cash burning holes in the wallets and purses.
The day after Christmas, delayed gratification was out of the question.
"It's just the rush of getting it now instead of waiting," said Sarah Sanchez, 18, with a $50 gift card in her hand.
The day after Christmas is like the California gold rush when it comes to the teenage clothing departments, said Joel Musgray, manager of Penney's at Orlando Fashion Square. There are jumbles of opened shoeboxes and tables of jeans in disarray.
"The day after Christmas is one of our busiest days, especially for teenagers," he said.
Tonimarie Albergo, 15, was one of those with the urge to splurge after Christmas. At Penney's, she bought five pairs of jeans, 10 shirts, two sweaters and a sweatshirt -- normal retail value $300 -- for $100.
"If you wait, there's not going to be the stuff you want," she reasoned.
At the Target, the shopping carts and bins behind the return and exchange counter were filled with Christmas gifts that didn't last a day:
A red-and-white-striped piggy bank. A tin of shortbread cookies shaped like a London Bobby. An arts-and-crafts glue gun. A Panasonic cordless phone. A fan that radiates heat. Rolls of unused holiday wrap. A bottle of Arbor Mist White Zinfandel.
Leslie Jackson, a Target team leader, said she never returns Christmas gifts. To make sure, she encourages people to give her socks -- crazy socks, odd socks, colorful socks, hideous socks.
"They're never the wrong color or size," she said. "The gaudier, the better."
Just because she doesn't return Christmas presents, however, doesn't mean she never received a gift she didn't want to give back.
Jackson had an aunt who seemed to believe that Jackson and her sister were smaller than they were. This aunt had little money so whatever she gave the girls came from the bottom of the bargain bins.
"It wasn't the wrong size or the wrong color -- it was wrong everything," said Jackson, 39. "That's the stuff I wished I could return, but never could."
She understood her aunt's desire to give gifts for Christmas, but wished the woman understood she didn't need to spend what little money she had on gifts her nieces didn't need, or want.
"She didn't need to get us anything," Jackson said. "A card would have been enough."
Jeff Kunerth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5392.
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