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Bountiful times for gift-list industry


Bountiful times for gift-list industry
Published: December 18, 2005
Gotta have it. Can't afford it. Really want it.

But how to convey that to the people who buy you gifts: That is the dilemma.

Enter the gift registry - no longer just for blushing brides and new parents. All-occasion registries are popping up all over the place, from national chains to local stores.

Grandparents use them to find the latest techno gadget for the grandkids; husbands use them to deduce whether their wives would rather have a reliable recliner or some fancy jewelry; and teachers register to announce a desire for erasers, chalkboard chalk and other classroom needs.

''People use it for however they want,'' said Bob Zakrzewski, president and co-founder of the registry Web site

In operation since 1997, allows people to compile wish lists of items from multiple stores. It's one-stop idea shopping, where gifts can be purchased from the individual sites or at local stores holding the same items. If you don't like items on the list, you still may be able to discern a theme, one that sprouts into a gift idea. ''It's more of a hint list,'' Zakrzewski said.

But the hint should not be unsolicited, said Cindy Grosso, founder of the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette, who was not surprised by the growing popularity of all-occasion gift registries. ''It should not be done, 'Here's where I'm registered. Send me a gift,' '' she said. ''It's really not something you send out to people unless you are asked.''

Either way, some still say the registry boom is sliding down the ''gimme'' slope.

''I actually think gift registries are kind of tacky, to tell you the truth,'' former wedding planner Jennifer Kain DeFoe said. ''I think they're over-utilized at this point.''

But Kain DeFoe admitted she did use one last year, when her mother, nearing 80, was stressed about Christmas gift ideas and how to get to the stores. Kain DeFoe and her husband registered at Snows Home and Garden in Orleans, among the first to use the 30,000-item registry as an all-occasion service.

''We didn't tell anyone that we did it except for my mother,'' she said. Kain Defoe's mother went to the store a few days later.

Most people who register at Snows do it for weddings and showers, but a handful have signed on for other occasions. It's something that could take some getting used to, store owner Sid Snow said.

''I think the people are embarrassed that they want gifts and specific gifts,'' he said.

But others see registries as simplifying an experience that can be stressful. ''It works,'' said Leah Thapa, whose husband and kids often consult her wish list at the Sandwich Village Herb Shop. ''I find it fun to get the things I'm always looking at. There is always something I want and I can't always get.''

Thapa mostly selects jewelry. Her kids have registered, too, choosing books and other items they want. ''It really narrows it down and makes it much easier for me,'' she said.

At the Route 6A store, customers can wander around and tell a clerk about the products that tickle their fancy. The selections can span from clothing and candles to spa treatments and Kama Sutra products. The store's wish book is most popular during the holiday season, but it's kept all year long. Kids, husbands, boyfriends, friends - anyone - can buy items from the registry, owner Michelle Tompkins said.

The registry may take out some of the thought behind a gift, but Tompkins thinks people would prefer to spend money on something that gets used rather than a gift that gets tossed in a back closet. She also makes sure people write down a lot of items so gifts are still a surprise.

The registry boom appears to be a national trend.

Zakrzewski declined to comment on how many people have signed up at But during this holiday season, the site has averaged 2,500 gift registries viewed each day, an increase of 70 percent over other times during the year, Zakrzewski said.

And if you have no registry and no ideas, don't worry. also offers a gift wizard. All you do is put in some giftee data, such as age, relationship or the occasion for which you are buying. The wizard magically comes back with gift possibilities. It even works for pets.

''I think it's a good idea for those hard-to-buy-for people,'' Snow said of registries. ''They're going to get what they want, and everyone is happy.''

Of course, you can still go it alone.

''Anytime a gift registry is used, you do not have to buy a gift from it,'' Grosso said.

Emily C. Dooley can be reached at

Copyright, 2005, Cape Cod Times. All Rights Reserved.


Author: Emily C. Dooley

Source: Cape Cod online

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