Shoppers find gifts in small local stores

Avoiding the rush, crush

Shoppers find gifts in small local stores

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

— Robert Frost

It’s the last weekend before Christmas and the shopping aisles are jammed at the malls and the Walmarts.

But that’s only part of the Christmas shopping story.

There are those in Wichita who shop along the roads less traveled.

All over the city, people were picking up last-minute gifts at little shops off the regular holiday trade routes — avoiding long, cold walks in parking lots and long waits at the checkouts.

People like Sharon Lang, who ran a quick in-and-out shopping play at Hundred Acre Wood, a store on East Harry near I-135 that specializes in teddy bears, dolls and figurines.

She picked up some angel figurines for her daughter-in-law, Angela.

“She collects the Willows (collectibles), and I got a little doll for my granddaughter,” Lang said. “It’s just beautiful.

Carleen Westover, who works at the shop and has a display booth there, said traffic had been steady, but not overwhelming, through Saturday.

“We have been busy, but not backed up,” she said.

At Hatman Jack’s, on Douglas in the Delano district, Shanna Ahmad was helping her husband, Askia, pick out his early Christmas present, a jaunty driving cap — with sons, Asa, 4, and Langston, 1, in tow.

Askia explained that he typically wears stocking caps, but he needed something more grown-up looking.

“Each year, we find we’re more mature in our shopping,” Shanna said.

The couple said they had wilder tastes when they were young and single.

“It’s kind of like when we’re married, with kids, it’s different,” Askia explained.

He’s 32. She’s 31.

Some of the shoppers off the beaten track weren’t looking for gifts, but for last-minute decorating touches.

Jessica VenJohn and husband, Cody, dropped by the gift shop at the Wichita Art Museum to peruse hand-blown glass ornaments on their way to lunch at the

museum cafe.

“Too pink,” Jessica said as she looked at one bulb. “I like this green,” she said, picking up another.

Giftwise, the VenJohns were ahead of the game.

Jessica said she pretty much wrapped that up in October and November — before Black Friday and doorbusters and moonlight madness sales touched off the annual stampede.

“I get it done early, that way I can enjoy Christmas more,” she said.

Back at Hundred Acre Wood, Tim Robertson scoffed at the suggestion that Saturday was last-minute shopping.

“This is when we start,” he said, chuckling.

He and his wife, Sharron, knew exactly what they wanted — Boyds Collection figurines for their daughters, Margaret Robertson and Laura Oaks.

It’s a family tradition, Sharron explained. Mom and Dad bought their daughters their first Boyds collectibles when they were young girls.

They’ve gotten them for Christmases, birthdays and other occasions ever since. One daughter has a large collection of moose; the other, bears.

“They’re in their 30s now,” said Sharron.

“They probably wish we’d stop giving them to them,” interjected her husband.

“No they don’t,” she quickly corrected him.