HOLIDAY- Holiday howlers: The most blunderful time of year

Lynne Goldman of Lynne Goldman Studios

#We've all heard stories of desperate, last-minute shoppers on Christmas Eve, so we checked with some local stores for some actual holiday tales.

Lynne Goldman of Lynne Goldman Studios

A Modest Proposal

Several years go, a frequent customer came in, and something caught her eye. But it wasn't a necklace or an aromatic candle. She was eyeing the shoes Mrs. Goldman was wearing, which were brand new. "I can't sell you my shoes!" Goldman says she told her. The woman continued to plead her case, not taking no for an answer: "You have to name a price!" Goldman says she finally relented because "They matched her holiday outfit perfectly." Everyone came out on top– the customer left the store with her dream shoes for the holiday season, and she's been "a loyal customer ever since."

Amy Kolbrener and Cyd McClelland of Eloise

Will Wrap Gifts 4 Free

High-end downtown women's clothier Eloise found itself in a new line of business– at least one Christmas Eve. Owner Cyd McClelland and her daughter, Amy Kolbrener, were tending the store when a man came in to buy a present. After they wrapped it, he looked at them and asked pleadingly, "Is there any chance you could gift-wrap all my presents?"  Receiving an affirmative, he returned 20 minutes later with three bags full of unwrapped goodies. McClelland and  Kolbrener wrapped every single one free of charge, which they say they were happy to do. But Kolbrener is quick to add with a laugh, "not that we're offering that service this Christmas!" 

Trent Thurston of Eljo's

No Smoking

A woman who Eljo's store manager Trent Thurston describes as "eccentric" used to come into the venerable haberdashery every year to do all of her holiday shopping. One point of contention was her smoking habit. "She always wanted to smoke in the store," Thurston says. Despite being exiled to the outdoors to satisfy her craving, the woman would manage four-hour shopping sprees– long enough for her to go through "about a pack." (Thurston notes that Eljo's throws a Foods of All Nations-catered cocktail party on Christmas Eve for its last-minute shoppers. The only smoking is smoking jackets– or smoked salmon!)

Monique Moshier of The Happy Cook

It's snowing...?

Steve Belcher, husband of Happy Cook owner Monique Moshier, volunteered to help in the store last year to ease the stress of the holiday season. "He had the best of intentions,"  she says ambiguously. Searching for something in the storage area above the store, Belcher did not realize the ceiling tiles were not secure enough to stand on. As he began to lift some bags, he stepped through the ceiling, sending styrofoam and plasterboard flotsam wafting over the store. They both laugh as they remember the reactions of holiday shoppers. "Old ladies were screaming, ‘I think that's a foot!'" Monique says. Her husband found his own special way to create an indoor snowstorm. 

Kephany Powell and Judi Gregory of London's

Deck the Shelves with Elves

London's Bathecary, a bodyworks shop, arguably has the most Christmas spirit of any store Downtown. Elves line the shelves, and Christmas paraphernalia abounds. Each elf stands about three feet tall— very hard to miss— so when manager Judi Gregory noticed one sitting high up on a shelf in October ("I walked around the corner and there he was. And you can see how big he is and how obvious"), she asked her co-workers if they had already started decorating for Christmas. Employee Kephany Powell laughs remembering how the employees all replied, "No, that's been up there all year... since last Christmas." In the flurry of the post-holiday season, they neglected to take down the lone elf, and he proceeded to warm his shelf for the next 10 months– unnoticed by everyone. 

Cynthia Schroeder of Spring Street

Hit and Run

In her second year running the women's clothing shop Spring Street, owner Cynthia Schroeder found the holiday season to be especially hectic. But things turned from hectic to strange when a man came into the store– located at that time in Meadowbrook Shopping Center– apparently looking for a gift for his wife or girlfriend. But no. Schroeder says he wanted to try the clothes on... himself! Realizing she had no rules against it, she allowed him to take his pick. 

Then, while he was busily trying on clothes, a lady out in the parking lot backed into Schroeder's car and tried to drive away. 

"Since then," she says, "we've decided that men should not try on women's clothes– during store hours or otherwise!"  

James Clarkson of Industry

A Starry Christmas

One day during the holiday season two years ago, a famous musician wandered into Industry, a cutting-edge clothing store owned by James Clarkson near the Downtown Mall. Moments after Dave Matthews entered, Clarkson says, he noticed "about seven" supposed shoppers suddenly stroll into the store. Clarkson smiles as he recalls watching the new arrivals "just pawing" at the clothes with their mind clearly on another subject. 

"They weren't shopping," laughs Clarkson as he describes watching star-struck fans nonchalantly trying to catch glimpses of the  home-town rocker.