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Sock seekers rise before dawn

Hosiery bargain-hunters reach for sought-after Nike and Adidas socksat the annual Fred Meyer sock sale Friday morning.

Photyo by Jim Craven

Annual sale brings crowds

Rest assured, nobody in Eunice Brown's family will get cold feet thiswinter.

The Medford woman made certain of that Friday, rising well before dawnto line up with dozens of like-minded shoppers gathered for the annual FredMeyer five-hour sock sale.

I've been up since — a.m., said Brown, 55, waiting outsidethe Crater Lake Highway store. It's so exciting. I circled the parkinglot at 5 a.m., just to see.

When doors opened at 6 a.m., Brown and other eager sock-seekers madea bee-line for boxes and boxes of brand-name foot gear, all at cut-rateprices.

Well, they're half-price. That's a good deal, she explainedpatiently, before rushing toward bins heaped with ankle socks and argyles,boot socks and crews.

Within 10 minutes, shoppers had cleaned out half a wall of Jockey dresssocks, and seriously depleted huge cartons of Nike, Adidas and Fila athleticsocks.

Amid shouts of Over here, Aunt Mary! and Grandma, iseight pairs enough? shoppers like Darrin Hillyer, 40, of Central Point,paused to ponder the 40 or so pairs piled in his cart.

Well, we go through a lot of socks, he said. We wentthrough all the socks in the house last night and threw away the old onesso we could stock up.

It's one small way of keeping up with the high cost of having athleticchildren, observed Joan Gugliotta, 50, of Central Point.

Last year I spent $80 on socks, she said. My kids likethose name brands, so I give them as Christmas presents. I just wrap themup.

In the decade since the sale was started, it has become something ofa tradition for shoppers and employees alike, said Rob Boley, Fred Meyerassistant vice president of public relations. Those searching for socksknow to arrive early, stock up fast and leave well before the late-morningthrongs arrive.

Those selling the socks know to get out of the way.

We had two almost-fights break out last year, and they had to beasked to leave the store, said Dianna Hamner, apparel manager at theCrater Lake Highway store. It's because people will take socks outof other people's carts.

Some people even try to get a jump on the sale the night before, forcingemployees to check shelves for socks customers have hidden.

This year's crowd was well-behaved, making way for oncoming carts andchatting cheerfully above the strains of Deck the Halls as fellowshoppers loaded baskets with calf-length Nikes.

It's a tradition, said Maria Barriga, 60, of Medford. Themen go hunting for deer; we go hunting for socks.

But for Eunice Brown, the post-Thanksgiving tradition calls for far morethan just another year's worth of toasty toes.

When she pulled on her Christmas sweater at — a.m., she was preparingfor a full day of shopping: first Freddy's, then Mervyn's, then Target andMeier and Frank.

For her, the biggest challenge was not getting too carried away too soon.

My husband said to leave the charge cards at home; $200 of sockswe don't need, she said.

He, however, was back at home, sound asleep.

Call families reporter JoNel Aleccia at the Mail Tribune's Ashland bureauat 482-4646.

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Sock seekers rise before dawn