Layaway shopping is the new black as Kmart joins revival


You may have seen their commercials. Kmart has been touting their new layaway plan as a great way to shop for Christmas gifts, except, of course, it's not a new plan. They've had it for years. But the concept of layaway--paying for something in installments before you make your purchase and thus not raking up any interest--that feels new to a lot of people. Including myself. I'm in my late 30s, and I can't think of any time when I've ever bought anything on layaway.

But you look through old newspaper ads, and you can see how it once not just a concept but a way of life, just as credit cards are today. Everyone bought everything on layaway -- furniture, jewelry, suits. In an April 25, 1947 copy of the St. Petersburg Times, for instance, there's an ad touting a layaway program for a graduation gift for a high school senior: a $15 pen with a gold-plated cap. Boy, times have changed.

But layaway may be coming back, thanks, of course, to the swing in the economy in the last few weeks, and so I thought I'd compile a list of some of the places you can find layaway programs: