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      Last minute shoppers rush to stores Christmas Eve

      Columbia, SC (WACH)--Monday was the last chance for people to get out and buy Christmas gifts for loved ones.

      Russell Jones came to the Academy Sports and Outdoors Village at Sandhills store to find gifts for his family. The Northeast Columbia man started at 8 a.m. to avoid the long lines. Jones said he usually waits until the last few days.

      "It really has not been too bad," Jones said. "The crowds have not been too bad yet. I think they are starting to come in the store now, so if I can get it done pretty quick, I should be good."

      Other shoppers, like Ryan Pensel, said they hope to get it done earlier next year.

      "You'll be in here with everybody else trying to run around and find stuff that is not there cause people bought it," Pensel said. "I am going to try to get it done a little earlier next year. At least a month in advance. That way all the bills don't pile up on one another."

      Store Director Jim Repka said Academy Sports, along with many other stores, extended their hours for procrastinators Christmas Eve. He also made sure there were enough employees to make sure the lines move fast.

      "Christmas comes every year," Repka said. "They are used to it. I think they know they are going to have to wait a little longer. We have a really good staff. We've got plenty of people here in the building to help people out."

      Jones said with all of the money being spent on gifts, he hopes people remember the true meaning of Christmas.

      "We are celebrating Christmas for a good reason. It is not all about the receiving, but it is about giving also."