STUART, Fla. - Every Christmas Eve for 25 years, Barry Sterneck buys himself a special treat.
"I always get, usually, Kilwins fudge, for Christmas," he said. "I like plain chocolate, or chocolate raspberry."
But this last-minute shopper was out of luck for his first choice of fudge shop.
"We came down here, and Kilwins is closed," he said, ruefully.
But another downtown Stuart shop was open, "The Gauze Shop" boutique owner Michelle Davis said staying open late on Christmas Eve pays off.
"We wanted to be here for our customers," she explained. "They're there for us through the year. Through the summer, they kept us going, so we wanted to be here for them on their last night of shopping."
She said her store has seen a steady flow of business all day.
"Mostly men, they like to do their shopping last-minute," she said, with a smile.
Another last-minute shopper, Michelle Johns, brought her dog with her on a libation run.
"He loves beer, and he loves to drink it during Christmas," she giggled.
Johns said the dogs are part of the family, and buying booze on Christmas Eve is part of their tradition.
"Every year, we come over here, we grab the beer, the kids help put up the lights, and they've got their three pit bulls, and I've got mine," said Johns.
Bernsteck said he chooses to purchase indulgences that perhaps are a little sweeter.
"So we came to Hoffman's, knowing that they had fudge. And I got a small piece of chocolate raspberry, and chocolate fudge," he said.
He said it is a case of the late bird-- or, rather, the late-open business, getting the worm.
"I'll just come here (to Hoffman's) from now on," he said.
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