Many unhappy returns for shoppers

By Billy Corriher

After all the torn-up wrapping paper is gathered up and thrown away, there's only one thing left to do – return those unwanted gifts.

Area residents again flocked to retailers on Friday to return or exchange those gifts that don't fit, don't work or the ones the recipient didn't like.

Marianna Lezar, 38, of Hampton was at Tanger Outlet Center in Locust Grove to exchange a Game Boy video game she had bought for her son. Lezar said the game did not work when her son tried to play it on Christmas morning.

"He was pretty disappointed, but I'll get (a replacement) for him," she said. "It's just frustrating because I spent a week looking for this game."

Doris Turner, 59, of McDonough said she was reluctantly returning a coat her brother had given her on Christmas.

"I usually hate to return gifts because I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings," she said, adding that she already had a similar coat.

"(My brother) understands, though," she said. "I don't think he'll shed any tears over it."

Marcy Jolly, manager of the Van Huesen outlet in Tanger, said her store had many customers come in to exchange gifts on Friday.

"People aren't wasting any time," she said.

Assistant Manager Billzane Starr of the Haggar outlet in Tanger said her store, which sells mostly men's clothing, has not seen many exchanges so far.

"I think it's different when you sell men's clothes," she said, adding that it is easier to guess a man's size correctly.

"When men come in, they usually get exactly what they want."

But Melissa Neill, 42, of Forest Park, had no such luck when she bought a coat for her husband for Christmas. Neill went to Southlake Mall in Morrow on Friday to exchange the coat because it was too small.

"It didn't quite fit," she said. "I think he's grown a little since last year."

Neill said she was a little disappointed she had to exchange the gift.

"But, it seems like I've got to return something I've bought every year," she said.

General Manager Leon Washington of Sears in Southlake said his store does not see a lot of returns and exchanges immediately after Christmas.

"Every year, that's being done later and later because some folks don't want to get up right after Christmas to go back to the mall," he said.

Washington said the store does a lot of exchanges through January. If the customer does not have the receipt, then the store can offer a gift card as long as it was purchased at Sears.

Cherie Miller, 25, of Stockbridge, was at Southlake returning a "Spiderman" DVD she had bought for her nephew.

"It turns out one of his other aunts bought it for him, too," she said. "We knew he loved that movie."

Miller said she agreed to exchange the movie for another, and her OK already had a few replacements in mind.

"It's okay if I get (a Christmas present) to him late," she said. "It's the thought that counts."