Downtown Madison was abuzz with Christmas shoppers Friday afternoon and everyone seemed to be enjoying the unseasonably fall like weather and happy to be heading into a long holiday weekend.
Traffic was steady along Route 1, all available parking spots were taken and shoppers strolled through stores some picking up last minute gifts, others beginning their Christmas shopping and still others finding time to shop for themselves.
“I’m right on schedule, two days before Christmas and I’m starting my shopping,” said Ed Pellegrino as he shopped for his wife at . He said his wife loves shopping at Jolie Boutique so that was his first stop.
In the store, alongside Pellegrino, was John Mastrobattisto, also shopping for his wife. The difference, however, was that the gift Mastrobattisto picked out for his wife would have to be opened before Christmas. “I was walking by the window the other day,” said Mastrobattisto. “I saw an outfit that my wife would look good in. She needed an outfit for Christmas Eve so that’s what I’m buying.”
Clothes shopping was also on Flo Farrelly’s agenda as she browsed through of Madison looking for a gift for her mother. She said this was unusual for her to still be shopping two days before Christmas but things were a bit different this year, considering the economy. “This year I’m a little behind the eight ball,” said Farrelly. Why? “The funds, I wanted to save up until the last minute.”
Missy DeBeradinis of the Country Shop said business has been brisk. “It’s busy,” she said. “They followed us in the door today.” She said people are buying gifts, but also making purchases for themselves. “I’ve had people buy gifts for themselves,” said DeBeradinis. “Especially this week, they need a little something for themselves.”
Finishing up her shopping, walking in front of was Dana Weinstein. Clutching an bag, Weinstein said she had completed most of her shopping, but was spending the afternoon finishing up, along with her two children, Ellie and Danny. She said shopping this close to Christmas happens every year, “when you go and assess everything and you realized you’re missing a couple things.”
Up the street at RJ Julia, shoppers flipped through books looking for the perfect read for those on their list. Scott Zimmerman said he gets a book for his wife every year, adding, “This is my book day.”
In another section of the book store were Frank and Kristi Keil, perusing coffee table books. “You know it’s probably something they don’t have already,” said Kristi. “In the past I always bought people calendars as extra little things, but now I’m buying books like this because people don’t use calendars anymore!” she added.
“We think big, beautiful illustrated books, there’s a real demand for them still, because there’s no way to reproduce them,” said Frank. He explained they were “kindle proof” books.
Family members of the four legged variety were also on many peoples’ lists as shoppers milled around checking out dog toys and treats. Eleven year old friends, Riley Kokoruda and Belle Doraz, were helping each other pick out just the right gifts for their furry friends.
Kokoruda has two Golden Retrievers, Cooper and Oakley. She said she planned on wrapping up two bones to be opened on Christmas Day. Doraz was having trouble choosing just the right gift for her Newfoundland, Brother. “He likes playing with little toys,” said Doraz. Yet, she couldn’t decide between a toy or a small treat.
Many people out shopping said Madison was where most of their purchases were made this holiday season.
“One thing I will say is that the town of Madison, they really do support their stores,” said The Country Shop’s DeBeradinis. “I’ve seen all my local Madison customers and their husbands have come in and said ‘Oh you know my wife, she sent me down here.’”
“Love your local,” said Pellegrino, adding that 100% of his shopping would be right here in Madison. Joining in in keeping local were Mastrobattisto, who estimated that about 80% of his Christmas purchases were local and Farrelly who said she enjoyed shopping at and RJ Julia, in addition the The Country Shop of Madison.
John Doheny and his sixteen year old daughter, Amy, were enjoying their last minute shopping spree. In addition to looking at gifts, they enjoyed a small treat at the RJ Julia Café before heading over to Wall Street’s . Doheny said he was enjoying the atmosphere of downtown Madison.
“I actually love it,” said Doheny. “I think it’s very exciting to be out like the day before,” he added. “I think you get in the Christmas spirit.”