Kmart gives 20% discount to unemployed

Following the long line of companies helping out the unemployed in hopes of keeping them as customers when they get back on their feet, Kmart is offering a 20% discount to the unemployed on its private label grocery and drugstore staples for up to six months.

It's a smart business move that Viagra, mobile phones, health clinics, resume printers, auto dealers and airlines, among many others, are offering job seekers struggling to pay the bills in the recession. The idea is that these customers will return to your business when they have money to spend.

The Kmart Smart Assist Savings card was started in Michigan, with its 15.2% unemployment, this summer and is being expanded across the country. It offers 20% savings on more than 1,500 of the company's brand products. Sale and clearance merchandise is excluded.

People who want the card must sign up for it online. Cards will be issued through January 2010. The only potential drawback is that it takes a bit of identification verifications to prove you're unemployed. Like the stigma of pulling out food stamps at a grocery store checkout line, fumbling for your unemployment documentation may be a little embarrassing.

The program requires presenting valid state-issued identification and a state-issued unemployment benefits enrollment confirmation. Customers can continue using the savings card up until its expiration in six months, even if they get a job during that time.

At checkout, cardholders must show their Smart Assist Savings card, their valid state-issued unemployment verification and their state-issued ID for signature verification.

Getting the state-issued ID is easy enough -- a driver's license or identification card. Finding the state-issued unemployment verification can be a little more difficult. According to the program's terms and conditions, each state has its own unemployment verification. A map is provided to help you find what works in your state.

Such verification can include something from the state's Unemployment Insurance Agency, such as an ID card for benefits. I live in California and haven't received such a card, although I did get a card that gets me into a state unemployment office so I can look for work.

If you don't want to be denied the 20% discount and have to walk away empty-handed, I suggest bringing everything you can to prove you're getting unemployment benefits. It may be a bit of a hassle to prove, but once you get the card, it's an easy way to save 20% for six months on staples.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at

Read Full Story