WILKES-BARRE -- Wearing a Santa hat and plaid shirt, Dudley Frey browsed Boscov's shoe section looking for a last minute gift Monday afternoon.
His wife's slippers were old and tattered, and he and his son wanted to buy her new ones. Frey usually shopped early for Christmas gifts, but this holiday season he joined the wave of last-minute shoppers who bought gifts hours before the downtown Wilkes-Barre store closed.
Frey, of Plymouth, had been hurt a few weeks before the Christmas season and had to take time off from work. His income was delayed, which hindered him from shopping early.
We're shopping at the last minute because of our situation, said Dudley. My checks got stalled, but I'm usually all over this stuff.
Anthony Swinney, 36, and his mother, Javette Uggiano, were also shopping at Boscov's on Monday afternoon. Instead of surprising his mother with a gift, Swinney brought his mother with him to the store.
I did some shopping yesterday and I missed some stuff, said Swinney. I wanted to bring her so she could pick out what she wanted.
Men like Frey and Swinney aren't alone. Boscov store Manager Tony Georgetti said a number of last-minute shoppers are men who are typically looking to buy fine jewelry and fragrances for their wives.
In general, he said people are buying everything, but men's gifts and Totes along with clothing tend to be popular.
I think everyone waits, said Georgetti, 43. It happens every year. There is traffic at this time of year, and it usually slows down around six.
The rush wasn't only at department stores like Boscov's. Boutiques such as Showroom 56 in Kingston also were busy.
There are some customers who have their shopping done by Thanksgiving, said Sally VanScoy, the boutique owner. And there are last-minute shoppers who are out the last two-three days before Christmas.
By 2 p.m. Monday, VanScoy said, about 30 customers had been in the store, which sells a little of everything – hats, gloves, fine jewelry and one-of-a-kind clothing items.
It was busy early and it slowed down over lunch, said VanScoy. A wave of people will come in this afternoon.
VanScoy, who had a large turnout on Saturday, had expected the Christmas Eve crowd and she and her employees were ready. She said they are familiar with favorite brands and styles of their regular customers.
We have things prepared, said VanScoy. Customers come in and we have an idea of what they want.
As VanScoy's daughter wrapped a present at the Showroom front-desk and Boscov employees helped shoppers pick out beauty products in the makeup section, employees at both stores were happy to assist customers as they bought gifts for loved ones.
We're down to the final rush. Everyone has the Christmas spirit, said Georgetti.