The holiday season is in full swing and Bronx shoppers who want to escape the Manhattan shopping madness don't have to look too far to get a good deal.
The borough's major shopping districts and local mom-and-pop strips can offer just as many bargains — and more convenience.
Grissette Torres, 44, was checking out some of the deals last week while shopping with her 18-month-old granddaughter, Jayleen, along the White Plains Road shopping district near Pelham Parkway.
"I like to go all over," said Torres, clutching a Rainbow Shops bag. "I shop here, in Bay Plaza, on Southern Blvd., everywhere. I love it."
Over at the borough's major shopping district, more than 55 stores in the Fordham Road Business Improvement District are offering special holiday savings of 10% through Sunday, Dec. 16.
With stores such as P.C. Richard & Son, VIM, The Gap, Oro-Uno Jewelry, Kids Zone and others, shoppers can save on everything from clothing to electronics to jewelry.
"We want people to realize that they can go shopping and save money in their backyard," said Wilma Alonso, executive director of the Fordham Road Business Improvement District.
Shoppers must show either a special newspaper ad, a MetroCard or a downloaded online coupon to get the discount. Many stores also will stay open until 9 p.m. on Fridays.
Merchants are pulling out all the stops. At the newly spruced up Conway at 340 E. Fordham Road, the store is packed with gift items and shoppers.
"We have a lot of specials and we're loaded with toys at special prices," said District Manager Joseph Famoso. "This is actually the best selection of toys we've had in years. So people come to our basement level and go crazy."
Along White Plains Road in the Morris Park/Pelham Parkway area, stores are beckoning shoppers with signs reading "Winter Sale!" "Blowout Sale!" and "Holiday Savings!"
Shoppers can pick up gift items at stores like Rainbow Shops, Pay/Half, The Avenue Plus, Frishmans, GameStop, Adam's Jewelry, Alco Shoes and more.
For the first time, the Throgs Neck Merchants Association has draped a stretch of E. Tremont Ave. in lights to create a cheerful mood for holiday shoppers.
"We're trying to make an atmosphere that's festive so that residents and people who come from other areas to shop have a good holiday shopping experience," said John Cerini, of the merchant's association.
About 140 merchants pulled together to raise $23,000 for the 2007 Holiday Lights display. Participating stores have special posters displayed in their windows.
"We wanted shoppers to know who's giving back to the community," Cerini said. "These lights are our way of saying ‘Thank You' to our customers."
Already, shoppers are gravitating to the more than 60 shops and restaurants at the Bay Plaza Mall next to Co-op City.
The mall offers top chains like JC Penney, Barnes & Noble, Toys R Us, Marshalls, Jimmy Jazz, Fye Music, Nine West, Linens-N-Things, Payless ShoeSource and Radio Shack among others.
And in Norwood, sparkling holiday lights, festive storefronts and the promise of bargains are luring shoppers into the Jerome-Gun Hill Business Improvement District.
The area features both small mom and pop operations to local and national chains such as Porta Bella, BX Sports, Foot Locker, Pretty Girl, Gold Plus and more.
Back on Fordham Road, shopper Cynthia Buonfiglio, 49, was looking for inspiration.
"I'm just starting my Christmas shopping," she said. "I've been looking at boots and maybe some jewelry for my husband. Then I'm going to put in my order and let him know what I want."