Brookfield Square opened bright and early at 8 a.m. Monday, ready for after-Christmas sales.
Mary Jane of Waukesha was already headed back to her car at 8:05 a.m. with three shopping bags full of dishes from .
"I came out to get some red dishes," she said. "They were 70 percent off. But I'm going back in for more."
Other shoppers were upholding annual traditions, taking advantage of markdowns on traditional holiday items.
Lynn Steidel, of Brookfield, and her daughter were shopping for ornaments at Kirlin's Hallmark. It is a tradition for the two of them to pick up new ornaments at 50 percent off.
"We collect some of the different series ornaments and we try to find a new one each year," Steidel said.
They were juggling six ornaments when it became evident they needed a shopping basket for more. However, this wasn't their last stop of the day. After ringing up their purchases, the Steidels were on their way to in search of a new case for an iPod the younger girl received from Santa.
Another group of shoppers caught my eye - three middle-aged men with Starbucks in hand and an eye for calendars. Jamie was juggling four different 2012 editions and looking for more at the Calendar Club.
"The one of Hawaii is for my bedroom, the lawyer one is for my desk at work and the Non Sequitor one goes in my home office," he explained. He added that he also had the New York Times cartoon calendar on his computer.
I was inspired by Jamie, enough to pick up a Milwaukee-themed day planner for work. At half-price, it was a steal.
Just down the road at Brookfield Centre, Gayle Kremer was checking out 70 percent off gift wrap at
"This is my annual tradition. I get all my wrapping paper for next year today. You can't beat the prices," said Kremer, who eventually left the store with 10 rolls.
In addition to those seeking out traditional discounts, there were some shoppers spotted bringing in bags of items headed for the return counter. But the largest group of people in the mall and stores today may well be those who received gift cards in their stockings.
The Wall Street Journal reported that over $27.8 billion in gift cards were purchased during the holidays this year. The manager of in Brookfield said the store expects a lot of teens and college-aged shoppers coming in during the holiday break to use up cards received from friends and grandparents.
And for those who received gift cards for stores not on the wish list, there is an extensive on-line network to trade the unwanted cards for new ones. Check out PlasticJungle.com, GiftCardRescue.com or CardPool.com to get what you really want.