A relaxing morning for last-minute Bellingham shoppers

It may have been crunch time for holiday shoppers, but few appeared to be feeling much pressure at Bellis Fair on Christmas Eve morning.

Shoppers looking for that one last gift were casually strolling through the mall, sipping on coffee as the final hours ticked away. The mall parking lot was about half full around 10:30 a.m., but more people did wander in around noon.

For Bellingham resident Daryl Reierson, the relaxed atmosphere was exactly what he was looking for. He had one more gift to get and purposefully arrived in the morning with a plan to avoid the last-minute afternoon shoppers.

“It’s been pretty easy this year,” Reierson said of the holiday shopping season. “It’s really peaceful, but I still have to get home and do some wrapping.”

Some retail employees who have worked Christmas Eve in past years say in Bellingham it’s generally a time when things are winding down. There is usually one final blitz between noon and 2 p.m. Dec. 24, but for the most part that’s it in terms of a shopping rush, said Robin Scott, who was working one of the two Ce-Ci & Co. kiosks near the mall’s Food Court.

There really wasn’t that sense of desperation, at least during the morning hours, said Melany Fry, who also was working one of the Ce-Ci & Co. kiosks, which focus on hair extensions and other hair styling accessories. With a laugh, Fry said Wednesday had the most men she’d seen at the mall during the holiday shopping season, but they came prepared.

“Many of them were checking their cellphone, letting me know exactly what they are supposed to get,” she said.

At the See’s Candies kiosk, Tammy Vatcher and Kori Mason were giving out samples and chatting with a steady stream of customers. On the final day, many of the customers were either looking for that last purchase to finish their list, or maybe restocking a box of candy that somehow didn’t quite make it to Christmas.

For Vatcher, it’s a time to say goodbye to some of her regular customers, because the See’s Candies kiosk gets packed away after Sunday, Dec. 28, for a few weeks before returning for the Valentine’s Day season.

“It’s a great job for me,” said Vatcher, who is retired and does the work part-time. “I really enjoy talking to the customers. Every one of them has a See’s Candies story, and some of them know more about the candy than we do.”