By MAGGIE GEBHARDT

mgebhardt@dailynews.net

Customers trekked off to their favorite stores as sales were booming starting bright and early Friday morning.

Shoppers hustled and bustled before Christmas, but the pace did not seem to waiver as stores leaped right into their year-end sales.

"It's been very busy," said Hays Hobby Lobby home accents department manager Kimberly Kern. "People just keep coming in for the sales."

Hobby Lobby boasted several usual 50 percent-off sales, but the mark-down that was really drawing people in was 66 percent off all Christmas items, including decorations, trees, wreaths, ornaments and more.

"We're definitely here for the sales and to prepare for next year," said shopper Kim Mills, Kansas City, Kan., as she browsed with her husband, Chad and daughter, Sophia. "We always find really good deals the day after Christmas."

The Mills were in Hays for family festivities and said their post-Christmas shopping would probably take up the majority of their Friday.

Some shoppers still had a few late Christmas gatherings and decided to swoop in just in time to take advantage of the deals.

Yvonne Walz, Ellis, had just started her shopping for the day.

"I'm doing last minute holiday shopping. I still have two Christmases left," she said. "Sometimes I decide to take advantage of the opportunity and sometimes I just avoid it all together."

For others, avoiding the experience was the last on their mind. In fact, some customers looked at the situation as more of an enjoyable and exciting tradition.

"I've been shopping the day after Christmas for at least 10 years," said Hobby Lobby shopper Kathy Amrein. "I'm a social person. I like to get out and see all the people."

"That is 1,000 percent true," said Amrein's daughter, Hannah Dreiling, as she and her sister accompanied their mom for the day. "She gets really into it."

"I get all my wrapping paper and decorations for next year," Amrein said. "I love it."

Though Hobby Lobby opened its doors at normal business hours, there was still a line of dedicated deal grabbers waiting outside early Friday morning.

"We had several people waiting to get in, mainly for the Christmas stuff," said Hobby Lobby office manager Heather Stringer.

"There should be a lot of people this weekend, too," she said. "After that, it should calm down for a while."

Other stores, including Bath and Body Works at The Mall in Hays might not calm down for a few weeks. Some of their year-end sales go all the way into mid-January.

"It's been crazy busy," said Bath and Body Works sales associate Jessica Freeman. "It's a lot of fun to see everyone, though."

Freeman said day-after-Christmas shopping was equal in comparison to the few days leading up to Christmas.

"Before, everyone is frantically trying to get gifts, but after, everyone is in here for the sales," she said.

Bath and Body Works' customers continued to flood in Friday, as deals peaked with a tempting 75% off select items.

Fort Hays State University senior and Bath and Body Works sales associate Erika Espinoza said this was her first experience with post holiday sales at the store.

"It's been fun, a little hectic at times, but it's rewarding helping people out," she said.

Day-after-Christmas dedication seemed to gleam everywhere, whether it was a sales associate dedicated to helping a customer, or a shopper dedicated to grabbing deals.

"The sales are worth it," said Bath and Body Works customer Wanda Krug. "I have company in town, but I wanted to at least take a few minutes to come out here to take advantage of this."

"I'll probably be back tomorrow, too."