Lawrence's annual summer rite of passage, the sidewalk sale, attracted a diverse crowd as always.
About $130 between them, Amanda Clemente and Betsy O'Brien hit Lawrence's annual sidewalk sale like seasoned pros, despite their adolescent ages.
Both had been saving up for the shopping frenzy for a while, but Amanda, 12, had a birthday windfall on her side. She toted $70 to the sale; Betsy, 11, brought $60.
The two joined other friends from Southwest Junior High School on Thursday, hitting hot spots in search of trendy must-haves.
All four friends wore blue beaded choker necklaces, a mark of their friendship and a reminder for later on that they survived the day.
Where'd they get them? "Maurice's!" the four friends shouted in unison.
With construction workers toiling behind chain-link fences dotting downtown, some store clerks said the shopping crowd seemed thinner than years past.
"It's a little softer," said Ryan Schwisow, manager at Brown's Shoe Fit. "I think the heat and congestion of construction have deterred some of the people."
Tom Tweddell has worked the sidewalk sale for Johnson Furniture, which is closing, for 10 years. It definitely seemed less busy Thursday on Massachusetts Street, though traffic inside the store was steady, Tweddell said.
Tweddell said downtown construction likely was to blame.
"That would be my guess," he said. "I can't think of anything else. The weather's pretty nice for July."
But Earl Reineman, vice president at Weavers Department Store, said he thought crowd was as good as ever.
"I think traffic's been outstanding," Reineman said. "Lawrence people are troopers. We knew they'd find a way to get here. It's really not that bad getting around."
Aaron Flowers said he wasn't having any problems negotiating his wheelchair through the crowd. Flowers picked up a Boston Red Sox hat at the sale.
The construction scene proved favorable for the Lawrence Farmer's Market. With fewer parking spots available, shoppers filled the market's lot in the 1000 block of Vermont Street. So vegetable and fruit vendors moved their booths into the heart of the sidewalk sale for the first time.
It worked out well, market manager Carol Thrasher said.
"Normally we don't get much traffic on sidewalk sale day," she said as market regulars set up next to music-makers and food vendors.
As always, the sidewalk sale showed off Lawrence's passion for diversity. While the Creation Station sold batik sarongs and Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop hawked winter gear, animal rights activists warned shoppers against Premarin, a drug taken by menopausal women that contains urine from pregnant mares.
-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.