CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Casto brothers -- Dylan, 12; Owen, 10; and Brennon, 5 -- are ready to go back to school, thanks to good planning by their mother, Amanda.
The Sissonville family recently paid off their layaway collection that's been stored at the Patrick Street Kmart for the past month. Amanda has been paying a bit of the total each month, and she was able to buy shorts, shirts, shoes and more thanks to the store's program.
"It's the only way I can afford to buy clothes for three boys," she said, as she hefted a large box filled with her purchases into a cart. Sixth-grader Dylan was excited about the new items.
"We came in and shopped for the stuff, and now we can wear it to school," he said. The brothers already were dreaming of Christmas -- and Amanda said she would start laying away those items soon.
Jeans, T-shirts, Capital High Cougar and South Charleston Black Eagle shirts, backpacks and dresses fill the aisles that held swimsuits and beach bags just weeks ago. Mixed in with the signs promoting back-to-school fashions and supplies are signs that read "Big dreams, small payments," describing the layaway service. Store manager Billy Rasnake showed visitors the storage room in the back of the store where layaway items are held.
"In our store area, we have year-round school, so people did shopping and layaway early," he said. "They came in wanting the backpacks, clothing. People are already starting their Christmas shopping."
A large portion of the store's back-to-school shopping is done with clothing vouchers provided by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. The state determines how vouchers are used, and West Virginia doesn't allow vouchers to be used for layaway.
Layaway payments can be made at any register, Rasnake noted. He said parents are starting to come in to layaway coats, heavier clothing, thermals, toboggans and other winter items. Kmart's sister company, Sears, offers layaway as well.
Rasnake said last year there was a group of "Layaway Angels" who anonymously paid off layaway amounts for many customers.