BANGOR, Maine — Parking lots at the Bangor Mall and the many surrounding retail stores were full Friday as people from all over the region converged to return unwanted Christmas gifts or take advantage of after-Christmas sales.
More than one person leaving Wal-Mart said it was a tradition to shop after Christmas for the deals available.
Bob and Karen Haskins of Brookline, Mass., who were visiting Karen’s mom in Bradley, loaded two carts with holiday items, including 3-foot-tall lighted candy cane decorations that were selling for half-price.
“I called my sister to see if she wanted some,” Karen Haskins said. “I got some for her, my mom and some for us.”
The couple loaded their carts so full with items that they decided “we had too much to shop,” Karen Haskins said. “It was hard to get around.”
Philicia Kinney of Searsport and a family member made their way to Bangor specifically for the sales. Their cart was filled with items “for next year,” she said.
“We got Christmas bulbs, paper and decorations, and teddy bears for my six nieces and nephews,” Kinney said. “We got some really good deals.”
The two make the trip to Bangor every year after Christmas “for the prices,” she said.
Gil Thibeault of Hermon stood in the parking lot, smoking a cigarette, with a cart full of items “for next year” while his wife, Cheryl, and Grace Gates left the store.
“We’ve been everywhere today,” Cheryl Thibeault said. “We got all kinds of little trinkets, decorations, a Christmas tree and chips to eat while we shop.”
She said she and Gates go on a day-after-Christmas shopping spree every year, and got a late start this year because they brought along her husband, who “likes to sleep in.”
Gil Thibeault just smiled and said he was there because it was his job to push the cart.
Not everyone was out looking for deals.
Maureen Doore of Dover-Foxcroft surprised her husband, Keith, with a 40-inch television, but after giving it to him found out it didn’t fit into the couple’s living room.
“I’m returning a big, big TV because it was too big,” she said. “I’ve just got to get a smaller one.”
When the television was turned on, it was so big it felt as though it were in her lap, she said.
“I messed up, but it was a surprise,” Doore said.
Hermon resident Tyler Fielding, 5, carried “Rex” a moving Tyrannosaurus rex toy, while accompanying his grandmother Janet Fielding with returning gifts.
“We’re returning toys — duplicates and broken,” she said.
Tyler came along to help pick replacements for the returns. Fielding said she had bad luck this season with presents not working.
“This is our third store returning broken things,” she said.
Shopping the day after Christmas in the Bangor Mall area could easily be described as hectic.
“It’s crazy in there,” one shopper said as she left Kohl’s at the Bangor Parkade shopping center, carrying two shopping bags.
Inside long lines stretched from all the registers, but the customers were smiling and some were talking about the deals they believed they were getting.
It probably helped that the day after Christmas fell on Friday, which many people got off from work as part of the holiday.
It may be busy, and there may be traffic to deal with, but it’s well worth it, Bob Haskins said as he filled his trunk with 30 red-and-white striped candy cane decorations and other purchases, which filled “close to three” shopping carts.
“The good buys are happening the day after” Christmas, he said.