Macys, eager to pounce, no wait

Inquirer staff writer Sam Wood reports:

Macy’s in Center City opened at 5 a.m. this morning as a clutch of shoppers waited at the doors eager to pounce on steeply discounted items.

But by 7 a.m., there were no lines -- and no waiting -- at the cash registers.

That’s par the course for the department store chain’s Market Street outpost, said store manager Jim Kenny.

“This is just what we anticipated,” Kenny said. “Our rush starts later than the suburban stores. But when our light shows begin at 10 a.m., it will go nuts.”

Santa Claus will also start hearing children’s wish lists at 10 and the doors to the store’s traditional Dickens’ Village display opens then, too.

This year, the store is heavily promoting gifts that evoke warmth, Kenny said.

“Look at the rows and rows of robes, flannel sheets stacked high, cashmere sweaters,” Kenny said. “We’re ready for bear here. This is what people will be buying.”

Most of the early shoppers were not concerned about the economic downturn and said they planned to spend just as much this year as last year.

Rose Sunseri, 39, carried two overstuffed Macy’s bags as she hurried to work at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania.

“I’d like to spend less, but it always turns out to be more,” Sunseri, of West Norriton, said. “The economy isn’t effecting my spending.”

Sunseri bought two fleece blankets and two zip-up snuggle blankets.

“They were great deals. The snuggles are usually $80. I got them for $20. The Fleece were regularly $60, they cost me $9.99,” Sunseri said. “I saw the ad in the Inquirer yesterday and that’s why I’m here.”

In the men’s department, Matt Kimbrell, 38, of Northeast Philadelphia, waited as a cashier rang up a new sports jacket and dress shirt.

“I’ve got a 20th high school reunion tonight,” Kimbrell said. “The morning specials here are really good.”

He saved an additional 20 percent with a Macy’s store coupon.

With gas prices down about a dollar a gallon compared to last year, Kimbrell said he was happy to get some relief at the pump.

Kimbell said he felt obligated to keep his holiday budget this year in line with his gift spending last year.

“I have four children,” Kimbrell said. “You can’t really tell kids the economy is bad. Santa has to deliver.”

Buyers carefully looked over cashmere sweaters and flannel sheets and poked around the department store’s new mood was subdued on the main sales floors – no lines, no waiting at the cash registers. 

Dawn Hill, 40, bought two sweaters for herself, taking advantage of a 20 percent discount coupon.

“They’re something I really need,” she said.

Hill, of Plymouth Meeting, said she would be spending less this year.

“It’s not because of the economy, though,” she said. “It’s because I was in the big fire in Conshohocken.”

Hill, who works for SEPTA, was one of the hundreds displaced from their homes when a blaze ripped through the Riverwalk apartment complex in August.

“I lost everything, including my pet bird,” Hill said. “It was devastating.”

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