Store's layaway 'helps people out'

Randy Letter, owner of GameCozy & Movies, looks at his layaway program as a win-win situation.

It helps customers in a cash-strapped times and gives them another reason to buy things from his store, he said. Not to mention the warm fuzzies.

"In the holidays, everybody likes to help people out, and I thought it would help me out, too," Letter said.

Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce, said it's uncommon for smaller retailers, like Letter's store, to offer layaway. It's usually the big chains, she said.

The biggest of chains, Walmart, brought back its layaway program this year, citing some of the same reasons that Letter mentioned.

"We're always looking for ways to ease budget strain for our customers, and we know this holiday season in particular brings with it additional financial pressure," said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer for Walmart, in a statement.

Walmart's layaway program will only run until Dec. 16, according to a press release. Each item put on layaway also must be more than $15 and the total of all the items being put on lay away must be more than $50.

Letter said his store offers layaway year round but only recently put up a banner to advertise it at his store at 1621 E. William St. He said they try to work with customers on items to be laid away, but customers usually do it with the video game consoles, which run in the hundreds of dollars.

His system allows customers to put down 10 or 20 percent of the cost of the product and make payments after that, with no obligation to have it paid off by a certain day. Letter said some items have been on layaway for months. He doesn't charge interest, he said.

"We just work with and try to be flexible," he said.

Down the street from GameCozy, Best Pawn also advertises its layaways on the front of its building - 20 percent down and another 20 percent each month. Stop paying for it, and what you've already put down becomes store credit, said Rob Blackmore, an associate there.

He said it is common practice for pawnshops. It's useful because the selection there isn't guaranteed and sometimes customers want a particular item. This way, they can put down what they can afford immediately and reserve the item until they can pay for the rest.


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