Attention Kmart shoppers, there’s some generosity brewing in the Layaway Department.
“Probably two weeks ago, we started seeing people coming in asking to randomly pay off strangers’ layaways,” said Terry Northcutt, manager of the .
So far, eight shoppers have come in to pay off stranger’s layaways, and as similar stories across the country are reported, Northcutt expects to see more.
“I think were going to see a lot of joy on people’s faces when they come in and realize someone has paid off their purchases,” he said.
So-called “Layaway Angels” are popping up across the country, mostly at Kmart stores, one of the last national retail chains to offer layaway with few restrictions.
In Mount Pleasant, roughly $800 worth of merchandise has been paid for through the generosity of others. Northcutt said other stores in the region have seen even larger gifts.
“At our Rivers Avenue store, we’ve seen some big gifts, people coming in paying off $1,000 or more at a time,” Northcutt said.
Most of the do-gooders ask to remain anonymous and ask Kmart employees simply to pick a layaway account that appears to be headed for a family.
“We just pick them randomly and apply whatever they want to give,” Northcutt said. “Sometimes they specifically ask for a bin that contains a lot of toys, so they know it’s going to a family.”
It seems like the generosity began at Kmart stores in Michigan, according to an Associated Press story, but it has spread across the country.
"It is honestly being driven by people wanting to do a good deed at this time of the year," Salima Yala, Kmart's division vice president for layaway, told the AP.
Typically shoppers come in the week before Christmas to make final payments on layaway items, so none of the lucky shoppers in Mount Pleasant are aware yet that they have received the anonymous gift, Northcutt said.
“I think people just feel generous this time of year,” he said.