By Alex Paul
Last updated: November 28th, 2005
A major remodeling of the Target store, plus the addition of Old Navy and Gottschalks, drew rave reviews Friday morning from holiday crowds at Heritage Mall in Albany.
Whether it was waiting for Santa to arrive by historic trolley, sampling free ice cream provided by Cold Stone Creamery, or stocking up on polar fleece tops for just $10 at Old Navy, shoppers were in a festive mood as they checked off items on their Christmas wish lists and saved money at the same time.
Donna Green, Heritage Mall general manager, said she was pleased by the first few hours the mall’s doors were open. She was also excited about the planned remodel of the 17-year-old complex that houses 70 stores. The mall was purchased in August by Steadfast Commercial Properties of California.
“We just visited another of their recently remodeled mall properties in Everett, Wash.,” Green said. “It’s going to be terrific.”
Target’s recently completed $500,000 expansion n from 81,427 square feet to 94,510 square feet n was well received by shoppers across a broad age spectrum.
Chris and Jessica Ring, in their mid-20s, have three children, ages 10 months to 6 years old.
The Tangent couple’s shopping cart was filled with toys such as Barbie dolls, a set of small bouncing balls, some building blocks and of course, candy for Christmas stockings.
“I like it all, although it’s a little hard to find everything because I’m used to the old place,” Jessica Ring said. “It’s good though. I like the quality of things at Target. I’ll also shop Old Navy and Sears today.”
Parker Edwards, 12, and his mom, Diane, of Albany, were amazed by the new Fly Pen Top Computer. The $130 unit, which includes a charging base, allows users to draw or write on special paper, and activate computer actions such as a datebook, calculator or musical instruments.
“What’s really neat is that you can write words in English and the pen will say them in either Spanish or French,” said Parker, who is in the seventh grade. “You can also download it to other computers.”
Target electronics department employee Alex Vega said PlayStation and Nintendo were popular items as 8-year-old Nick Godell of Corvallis played nearby on the new XBox 360. Godell said he liked it, but the PlayStation was on his Christmas list.
Fawny Vernon of Albany and Amber Provost of Corvallis took a break from shopping so they could enjoy some ice cream at the mall’s food court.
“I like all of the mall, but Target is really nice,” Vernon said. “I really like the new refrigerated area. I can shop for things and also picked up some groceries to take home.”
Provost agreed, saying she likes “the upscaling of Target. Their house brand is excellent quality.”
The women said they would probably do about half of their total Christmas shopping at Heritage Mall shops. “We’ll also go across the street and shop at Toys R Us,” Vernon said. “It’s all convenient here.”
The 43,250-square-foot Gottschalks, which opened in April, was filled with shoppers, including Kim Whaley of Sweet Home and her sister-in-law Donna Amundson of Newport.
“We make this an annual shopping weekend,” Whaley said. “Donna comes up on Wednesday night, we have Thanksgiving and she stays through Sunday. We love shopping for everything, but here (Gottschalks) we’re looking for clothes for the girls.”
Whaley has two daughters, ages 11 and 15.
“I’ll spend next weekend wrapping and I’m done,” Whaley said. “I’ve already bought things for my husband at G.I. Joe’s and BiMart.”
Gottschalks sales clerk Nichelle Ghormley of Albany, said shoppers flooded the store when doors opened Friday morning.
“People were running in,” Ghormley said. “We had MP3 players that held 60 or 70 songs for $20 and they went fast. I think Albany really needed this type of department store.”
Old Navy, which opened in September, was another big draw at the mall. By 11 a.m., Mariha Peters and Cheri Kidwell, both of Albany, were on their second trip to the 18,810-square-foot shop.
“Our first trip was for family members, this one’s for us,” Peters said. “We love Old Navy. You can’t beat it. They always have great prices and selection.”
Kidwell said the bargain of the day was polar fleece tops for just $10.
“I lost track of how much we bought the first time,” Peters said. “We had two carts piled full and then we had to take a break to get something to eat. Now, it’s our turn.”
Tips for managing holiday shopping debt
Develop a spending budget. Write down household and personal expenses and subtract from your November and December take-home pay. The remainder is a starting point for how much you can afford to spend.
Boost your holiday spending account. Work overtime, look for seasonal part-time employment or use your holiday bonus for expenses.
Consider creative gift-giving. Consider gifts with a personal touch such as handmade tapestries, quilts, pastries, etc. Or, give your time to help shovel snow, babysit, or cook a meal for someone.
Look for shopping deals. Use retail sales, special discounts or coupons. Buy holiday decorations in bulk and split costs with friends or relatives.
Avoid last-minute shopping. Shopping under stress can lead to more spending. Plan your shopping trips in advance.
Pay with cash when possible. Stick to your spending limit. Leave your checkbook and credit cards at home to avoid temptation.
Source: Consumer Credit Counseling Service
Annual holiday sales
1999: $342.7 billion, up 8.7 percent
2000: $352.2 billion, up 2.5 percent
2001: $364.8 billion, up 3.6 percent
2002: $369.4 billion, up 1.6 percent
2003: $388.6 billion, up 5.2 percent
2004: $414.7 billion, up 6.7 percent
2005: $439.5 billion, up 6 percent *
* Projected sales
Source: National Retail Federation
Story by Alex Paul. He can be reached at 812-6076 or