ELLSWORTH, Maine — Unsuspecting Renys customers have been coming into the store here to make payments on their layaways this holiday season only to find their items have been completely paid off by an anonymous giver.
For the second year in a row, a summer resident has given the store $2,000, according to Josh Bickford, the manager. The donor instructs Bickford to hold on to the money until the holiday season, then to select toys and children’s clothes in the layaway room to pay off in full.
Bickford said his store was able to complete payments on items for about 20 customers with this donor’s money. The average value of the payments was about $100.
“There are probably 10 more who don’t know,” Bickford said of the customers whose layaways have been paid for this year.
Typically the store doesn’t tell the customers their purchase has been paid off, but waits for them to come in to make a payment. When they do, the store’s system shows that the items have been paid for and the customer can take them home.
“Some folks will come in and say, ‘I really don’t need that financially,’” Bickford said. They will then pay for their items and instruct the store to use the giver’s anonymous funds to pay for someone else’s layaway.
“They pay it forward,” Bickford said.
Bickford added that he’s not sure of the donor’s name, but knows that she got the idea after she saw a similar story on CNN.