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Breaking the chains of holiday stress 

Long Story Short

This year, I experienced a whole new taste of the madness surrounding the holiday season. Not only was I fortunate enough to work retail on Black Friday, I also saw what can happen when someone stares down the prospect of last-minute gift shopping. Even when it's not really the last minute.

Let me explain. In between the riveting hours spent folding and dismantling the bombs gone off in the fitting room, I helped one frantic mom who was doing laps around the store. When I approached her, she spewed out words that I can only guess were meant to form a sentence. One thing I could pick up was that she usually wraps up her shopping list before Halloween.

It was now early December.

This mom, clearly freaked by the prospect of the clock ticking down amid the buzz of the shopping season, needed a coat for her daughter, in a size we didn't have out. When I found the last one in the back, I thought she might burst into tears.

Today, with it truly getting down to the last minute, we can't save you from all the stress. But we can keep you out of the unforgiving jaws of corporately owned retail stores. Dipping into the list of winners from this year's Best Of Colorado Springs readers' poll, we have compiled a list of frenzy-free (as far as we know) local places that will hook you up with what you need. That starts here.

With that, we say happy shopping. And we mean it.

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