Stores Cater To Last-Second Shoppers Convenience Stores Swamped On Holiday; Top Sellers Include Cards, Batteries, Scotch Tape

THURSDAY, DEC. 26, 1996

George Maupin’s 5-year-old son was coughing, but he refused to take the red cough syrup - he wanted purple. What’s a father to do on Christmas?

Why go to 7-Eleven of course, where Maupin found his purple cough syrup and Max Held found his marshmallows and Curtis Annis picked up the last package of AA batteries for his Walkman.

And what would Annis have done, had 7-Eleven been closed?

“I would’ve had to mooch off my friends,” Annis said.

The doorbell kept going bing, bing and the phone kept ringing in the 7-Eleven at Garland and Monroe. Callers sighed happily when Rafi Chaudhry, the owner, picked up the phone.

“Thank God, you’re open.”

A steady stream of customers braved snow and ice to shop at 7-Eleven stores, one of the only places open Christmas Day.

While everyone remembered to pick up the turkey or ham, they - oops - overlooked the butter, bread and beer.

Chaudhry anticipated the rush and ordered extra supplies.

Big sellers included Scotch tape for wrapping last-minute presents, Christmas cards, cranberry sauce, sugar and the power behind so many presents.

“They bought toys but no batteries,” said clerk Craig Nusbaum.

But not everyone had last-minute shopping to do.

Randy Rastall walked to the West Garland 7-Eleven to collect one of his Christmas presents: $14 in lottery winnings for himself; $4 for his daughter, Alaina.

Sarah Boudreau, 11, and her brother Lonnie, 8, stood inside the store for 10 minutes. They didn’t stalk the aisles. Nor did they have any interest in buying the last dispenser of Scotch tape.

The tow-headed children, who had been sledding since early morning, stepped inside to warm up. They didn’t buy anything.

On the South Hill, the midday shoppers at the South Grand 7-Eleven were a decidedly casual bunch.

Brian Barge said it didn’t make much sense to dress up to buy a six-pack of beer. So he threw a coat over his pajamas and went shopping.

“These are my flannels,” he said. “I usually don’t wear pajama bottoms, but I hope to stay in them all day.”

Mike Miller found it more convenient to fill up his coffee carafe at 7-Eleven than to brew at home. It was 1 p.m and he had already visited the store three times.

“We don’t have space on our counter to make coffee,” he explained. “And I’ve got 19,000 guests at home.”

When the customer count slowed, it gave the manager, Brenda Morgan, and her two clerks, Edanna Doss and Janet Bales time to mop the floor, which was checkered with boot prints and puddles of melted snow.

A few customers expressed their regrets that store employees had to work that day.

“I’m sad for them, but glad for me,” said Deanna Elmore clutching a plastic mug. Why so glad?

She pointed toward the steaming mug.

“I’ve had this coffee crutch for 10 years - it has to be 7-Eleven coffee.”

Elmore trudged through three blocks of snow hoping to find the store open. “I’d have been devastated if it wasn’t.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

Tags: business

Click here to comment on this story »