ELLENTON -- Diane Borch jolted wide awake from a deep sleep in Sarasota at 6:15 a.m. Monday and quickly herded her groggy family into the family vehicle.
“We’ll get some Starbucks in the food court when we get there,” Borch assured her barely conscious clan.
Diane, her son, Jason, her daughter, Nadine, and future son-in-law, Philip Omielczenko, all of whom live in Canada except at Christmas-time, raced about 30 miles to Ellenton Premium Outlets.
By noon, when the Borches were ready to go home, all the parking spots were filled with thousands of shoppers.
“They’re all coming and we’re leaving,” Jason Borch said with a big smile, hoisting $600 to $700 in swag from stores like Ecko Unltd , Esprit, J. Crew, Bath and Body Works, Columbia Sportswear, Banana Republic, Guess and others.
The Borches had just become a statistic -- part of the list of area shoppers who traded in a morning of sleeping-in for “day-after-Christmas” deep discounts and early returns at Ellenton Premium Outlets and other locales Monday.
“It’s a tradition,” said Diane Borch. “The mall in Ellenton opens at 7 a.m. the day after Christmas so we grab our fruit and juice and go.”
Klaus Borch, Diane’s husband, stayed home, but still scored a pleasing Hawaiian shirt from Columbia Sportswear.
“I bought pants, shorts, a couple of shirts and shoes, all for $60 at Ecko Unltd and back home in Ontario I could get just one pair of pants for $60,” Jason Borch said, referring to the deep discounts at each store Monday.
Sarah Ozgun, an assistant general manager for the Ellenton Premium Outlets, said the Borches’ tradition is a shared one as people go after good deals on the day after.
“We get people who tell us that waking up early after Christmas and coming to Premium Outlets is a family tradition,” said Ozgun, who added that many traditional shoppers in Ellenton are international, with Canadians, like the Borches from Ontario, leading the way.
“The day after Christmas is just as busy, if not more so, than the days before,” Ozgun said. “It’s not unusual for our 130 stores to go from 40 percent off just before Christmas to 50 percent off on the day after Christmas. In fact the entire week between Christmas and New Years is very strong.”
Tracey Hamlin-Landry, who has been coming to Florida from New Hampshire for 30 years at Christmas, had to return a pair of Wrangler jeans she had purchased from VF Outlet for her husband, James.
“He’s a size 38 waist, 30 length, which these are, but they are too big,” Hamlin-Landry said. She had paid $19.95 for the jeans, which had a regular price of $40.
“We went crazy at the Vanity Fair Outlet and these were the only ones that didn’t fit,” Hamlin-Landry said.
Hamlin-Landry had told her husband to wait for her in the car.
“I didn’t tell him this was a big shopping day,” Hamlin-Landry said, hinting that James might not get a smaller pair of jeans after all. “I might get something for me.”
Mia Daucourt, a Florida State University law student, was returning a track suit and T-shirt to Juicy Coulture.
“A little tight,” Daucourt said of the gift from a relative. “I’m going to get boots, I think.”
Mia’s mother, Liliana Daucourt, had Ozgun blushing when she called Premium Outlets “the best outlet in the state of Florida.”
“It is,” Mia Daucourt said. “It’s hard to leave here when you get in a shopping zone.”
“What I like is that I know the brands my two boys like so I can hit Ralph Lauren Polo, Kenneth Cole and American Eagle Outfitters and get everything easily,” Liliana Daucourt said. “I wish girls were so easy to buy for.”
Ellenton Premium Outlets is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today through Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, which is New Year’s Eve; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, which is New Year’s Day.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.