Tradition trumps bleak finances

Inquirer staff writer Kathleen Brady Shea reports:

Patty Morgan was a model of efficiency today, finishing her shopping before 9 a.m. and still smiling.
Morgan, 54, of West Chester, said she started her expedition at 5 a.m., hitting four stores from Exton to Downingtown that had attractive sales.
“I’m trying to stay within my means this year but still have fun,” she said.
She also deliberately stayed away from a major mall. Her final destination: The Christmas Tree Shop in Downingtown.
“You can’t beat their prices,” she said. “Economically, I think I did very well.”
Pittsburgh residents John Doucette, 49, and Heidi Miller, 34, also enjoyed a productive outing.
Visiting relatives for Thanksgiving, they arrived at the Exton Square Mall, where some shoppers took advantage of a promotion to wear pajamas and receive a gift bag.
“I just thought it was a fashion trend,” said Miller.
Ignoring the dismal economy, she and Doucette bought themselves a holiday gift: a washer and dryer, which Sears will deliver to Pittsburgh.
Many shoppers said tradition trumped bleak financial forecasts.
“We tried to cut back, but we’re not doing too well, admitted Christi Mowery, 34, of Baltimore.
She said she and her relatives have been coming to the mall the day after Thanksgiving for years and found the crowds a bit heavier than usual.
Patty Tunnell, 38, of West Chester, has a similar family routine that was expanded this year because her brother, Joe Conahan, 46, of La Plata, Md., just retired after 26 years in the Navy.
“Usually, I come with my five sisters,” she said. “But we decided to let him in.”
Tunnell said she and her sisters go their separate ways but stay in cellphone contact, reconvening for periodic food breaks.
Conahan opted to stick with Tunnell, the group’s diehard, who began shopping at 4 a.m. and expects to complete her list by 5 p.m.
“I’ll have everything wrapped by next week,” she said.
Having her brother by her side, and not in Iraq, made a fun day even more special.
“I’m having a blast,” Conahan said.

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