Christmas countdown  Only five more shopping days 'til Christmas

Photo by John Bryant
Shopping toward a deadline
Shirley and Charley Pierson didn’t let a winter storm curtail their shopping schedule Sunday. With only five shopping days left before Christmas, gift-givers are getting serious about making the deadline.

  By Jennifer Lassiter

  You really should have all your shopping done by now, but if you're like most people during this time of year there are always some last-minute gifts to buy. With only six days left, there's no need to panic; many stores are open extended hours, even on Christmas Eve.
  If you're one of those people who still doesn't have a Christmas tree, well, there's good news and bad. The good news is trees are still out there and are affordable. The bad news is, with only six days remaining, the choices are rather slim.
  River Gardens on Elk Avenue, owned by Jeremy Clark, still has plenty of trees and is offering a five-dollar discount on most selections. According to Brian Tolley, they are "dropping prices way down". The trees are grown locally on Roan Mountain and are also sold in Hampton. The trees are selling for $35 and under.
  River Gardens is also selling wreaths and wreath packages. They will be open through Dec. 23 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  If you plan to head to The Mall in Johnson City, don't fret; they will be open extended hours all week long until Christmas day, opening at 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Christmas Eve, The Mall will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and be closed only on Christmas Day.
  To return those not-so-perfect gifts, The Mall will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. the day after Christmas. Regular business hours (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.) will continue until New Year's Eve (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and New Year's Day (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
   If you need to swing by and pick up a card for someone at work or school, Jackyln's Hallmark Shop in Elizabethton will be open an extra hour until Christmas Eve (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
   According to Sam Daniels, former owner and current manager, the week before Christmas is always their busiest time of year. "A lot of people say it's the day after Thanksgiving, but we get busier the week before Christmas," said Daniels.
  Hallmark's biggest seller this year are Jingle Pals. They are also featuring a discount on the Polar Express Santa. Originally priced at $9.95 the stuffed cartoon Santa is now going for $7.95.
  The Elizabethton Wal-Mart stretched their hours this week, staying open 24-hours a day until Christmas Eve, when they will close their doors at 6 p.m. They will be closed Christmas day and will resume regular business hours on Sunday, Dec. 26 (6 a.m. to 12 a.m.)
  Big Lots in the Betsy Towne Shopping Center off U.S. Highway 19E will also be extending their hours for Christmas, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Christmas Eve, the store will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and they will be closed for business on Christmas day. The Sunday after Christmas the store will be open 10 a.m to 6 p.m.