Stores see last-minute shopping push

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WICHITA, Kan. -- Christmas Eve is a big shopping day for a lot of people, but not everybody visiting the shops of Wichita Tuesday was in a last-minute panic.

Dennis Harvey of Bel Aire said shopping on Christmas Eve helps him avoid the grind of packed stores and busy streets greeting shoppers earlier in the season.

"Today, it's been pretty easy," Harvey said. "You don't have the crowds you get trying to go down Rock Road."

Shoppers like Michael and Hayley Stolzle like hitting the stores on several different days to break their shopping into more manageable pieces.

"We share Christmas time with our families," Michael Stolzle said. "We have some Christmas now, but we have a little bit more next week, so we're doing that shopping now."

The Spice Merchant, where the Stolzles were shopping Tuesday afternoon, was not as busy as it has been for most of the Christmas shopping season, owner Bob Boewe said. That's normal, he said, and he expects this year to be a strong holiday sales season.

For local business owners, that's vital.

"For a small business, this is our harvest and it gives us resources so if we have really crummy weather in January, February, March, we're in good shape, we hope," Boewe said.

Christmas shoppers, the last-minute variety included, provide business owners with the cash they need to remain in business.

"We've got to go back and spend a lot of that money to go ack and re-inventory all of our shelves and everything," he said.

Shopping late can also help deal-seekers," Hayley Stolzle said.

"We're having Christmas with (Michael's) dad on New Year's, so that helps to get the sales and stuff," she said.

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