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Consuming Interests
A blog for the smart consumer
Before the turkey, shoppers fill up on toys at Baltimore area stores

As more than 300 customers waited outside Thursday, a booming order echoed over the intercom inside the Kohl's in Timonium.

"Let's have a quick huddle," manager Brian Stoops told the 70 employees. "We've got 15 minutes to kickoff. This is what it's all about. It's all about today through Dec. 24."

After the workers gathered at the front of the store, Stoops, wearing a red shirt and black tie with the Grinch on it, preached like a football coach giving a pep talk before a championship game. He told them where the televisions were stored. He encouraged them to make sure no customer left unhappy. The group applauded when learning they would be fed all night and get pancakes, eggs and bacon for breakfast.

Fifteen minutes later, customers raced into the store to snag Black Friday deals like 32-inch televisions for $99, and marked-down cookware and gaming systems.

About 44.8 million people shopped in stores or online on Thanksgiving Day last year, up 27 percent from 2012, as more stores and...

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Holiday mall hours around Baltimore

Centre at Glen Burnie

Nov. 27: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Nov. 28: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Nov. 29: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Nov. 30: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

More hours coming soon.

Eastpoint Mall

Nov. 27: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Nov. 28: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Nov. 29: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Nov. 30: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

More hours coming soon.

Harborplace  

Nov. 27: CLOSED
Nov. 28: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Nov. 29: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Nov. 30: Noon-6 p.m.

Dec. 1-6: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 7: Noon-6 p.m.

Dec. 8-13: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 14: noon-6 p.m.

Dec. 15-20: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 21: Noon-6 p.m.

Dec. 22-23: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 24: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Dec. 25: CLOSED

Dec. 26-27: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 28: Noon-6 p.m.

Dec. 29-31: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Jan. 1: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Jan. 2-3: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

The Mall in Columbia

Nov. 27: CLOSED

Nov. 28: 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Nov. 29: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Nov. 30: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Dec. 1-5: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dec. 6: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Dec. 7: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Dec. 8-12: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Dec. 13: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Dec. 14: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Dec. 15-17: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Dec. 18-20:...

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Two new shops open on Ellicott City's Main Street

After the Thanksgiving turkey has been devoured and the frenzy of Black Friday shopping is through, small businesses across the country open their doors for Small Business Saturday, a day of shopping focused on encouraging people to buy local.

A bookshop and a boutique both opened this fall on Ellicott City's historic Main Street, adding to the mix of retail in time for the launch of the holiday shopping season.

Greenrow Books, located midway down Main Street, opened Oct. 1. The store, owned by Ellicott City resident Beth Panageotou and her family, specializes in children's books and cookbooks.

Just across the street, where Subway used to be, Simply Divine Boutique offers women's clothing and jewelry. The store, an outgrowth of Simply Divine in Maple Lawn, opened Sept. 6 and is co-owned by mother and daughter team Christine Rivero and Angelina Brannigan, as well as their business partners Jacquiline Boussi and Olga James.

Full calendar

Panageotou is a lifelong book lover, so when the...

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Children's jewelry set containing high lead levels found at city store

A children's plastic pearl necklace with a rhinestone charm that was being sold at a city store contained toxic amounts of lead, health officials said.

The $1.50 jewelry "Kids Collection Pearl Necklace with Rhinestone Charm and Pearl Earrings" had a lead level more than five times above permissible levels of 100 parts per million ppm found in the clasp, according to a statement from the health department.

The jewelry set was being sold at the Tiffany's Hair

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How much do Americans spend on holiday gifts?

The National Retail Federation has released its Holiday Consumer Spending Survey, giving us an idea of what the average American plans to spend to celebrate the season. Click through the photos to see how the dollars break down.

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Ready, set, go: Cyber Monday travel deals

Practically everybody knows that Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is when folks can score some of the season's best prices on items like electronics and fashion. Now savvy travelers have discovered that they too can land sensational deals if they wait just a few days later, for Cyber Monday, held this year on Dec.1.

Of course, there are countless travel websites broadcasting great deals every day. So, are Cyber Monday deals really that extraordinary by comparison?

"Yes, I can say absolutely," says Robert Firpo-Cappiello, editor in chief of Budget Travel magazine. "Last year we saw Starwood Hotels [including the W, Westin and Sheraton brands] offering all of its Caribbean hotels for 50 percent off, and Liftopia [a ski website] held a week-long sale offering 75 percent off lift tickets at 120 ski resorts."

There were also cheap hotel/airfare packages for exotic travel ventures. For example, tour operators like intrepidtravel.com, a company specializing in adventure vacations,...

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