From Santa's lap to bulging biceps

November 29, 2003|By Jonathan Pitts

Take two shirtless studs, place them in front of a store and invite shoppers to pose for holiday pictures to raise money for Toys for Tots.

"You should think of this as the Abercrombie & Fitch version of kids sitting on Santa's lap," Hampton Carney, a spokesman for the Ohio-based clothing chain, said of the nationwide promotion. "The grown-up version anyway."

At the A&F store in Annapolis Mall yesterday, sales clerks Jon Coslick, 24, and Chris Altizer, 22, posed in chiseled splendor with gushing patrons.

"Santa is well and good," said customer Tara Cardano, chuckling like St. Nick himself, "but this is more fun. These guys are great-looking. My friends will drool. I can't wait to show these [pictures] off."

Cardano, 52, from Indian Head in Southern Maryland, was hardly the only taker. Customers lined up just after the store opened at 9 a.m., an hour early to accommodate the day-after-Thanksgiving throngs. Most were teen-age girls who would look right at home in an A&F catalog.

"Can't say how much [money] we raised," said Rick Stevens, the store's manager. "But the jar is pretty full."

Cardano, an elementary-school teacher, was more than happy to leave three $1 bills in exchange for her Polaroid shots. "I'm a totally committed shopper now," she said. "This was a very merry way to kick off the holiday season."

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