COLUMBIA — Jakin Waldock, 35, was holding the last orange racing truck available at Target on Friday. It was the third store he had visited in the past 24 hours.
Two days ago, Waldock had taken his 3-year-old son to see Santa. The boy asked him for an orange racing truck for Christmas. Although Waldock's wife had already finished shopping for presents, he insisted on getting the truck for his son.
“I missed last Christmas, so I want to make sure this Christmas is really special for the kids,” said Waldock, who came home four months ago from a National Guard tour in Iraq*.
Waldock was not the only last-minute shopper in Columbia on Christmas Eve. A quick check at Target, Best Buy, Toys R Us and Walgreen's on Friday morning found 60 to 70 people still looking for gifts.
“Because I am a nurse, my schedule dictates that I could not go out and shop,” said Erin Ohnesorge, who works at Columbia Regional Hospital.
“It’s payday for lots of people” said Ben Cox, operations manager at Best Buy.
“Also, people are really busy this year," he said.
DezaRae Lancaster, 26, who works at the MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Columbia said she waited until there was enough money in the budget to buy gifts for five children.
Valerie Wiecken of Columbia said she was only able to spend $50 for her 2-year-old daughter. Wiecken has been laid-off since September 2009 and is currently unemployed.
Some shoppers waited until the last minute to take advantage of advertising specials.
“I am not shopping, just looking for good deals,” English teacher Ron Hudson said.
Others blamed bad habits.
“I’m kind of a procrastinator” said Brandon Woods, who works for Mid-Missouri Electric.
It's a guy thing, Woods said. “Females I know get out right after Thanksgiving."
He also said he dislikes shopping, period.
“Especially shopping for some one else rather than yourself,” he said.
Even nonstop snow didn't scare the last-minute shoppers. If fact, they hoped the weather would keep others away from the stores.
“I figured since it’s snowing, there will be fewer shoppers,” Ohnesorge said. “And I was right.”
According to FedEx Office on 25 S. Sixth St., shipping last-minute gifts was not an option. Anything shipped Friday won't arrive until at least Monday.
“We’ve been really busy with shipping the past three weeks, but we're pretty much dead today,” said employee Paul Huffman.
Raha Obaie and Qi An contributed to this report.