Paynter said he decided to buy the items after a conversation he had with the store manager while there to purchase a safe and some other retail items.
“I asked the lady what they would do with everything when they closed, and she said that power buyers would come in and take it. So I said I’m a power buyer, I want it all,” Paynter said. “She thought I was crazy, but she took my name and number and a couple of days later I got a call from¿Kmart and they said if I took everything, I could get it when the store closed at 6 p.m. on May 6. So I took it.”
The decision to give the merchandise away, Paynter said, was rooted in his upbringing in Winchester.
“I came out of the gutter. When I was a kid, we didn’t have any place to go to for food or clothes or stuff. Daddy was a drunkard and would go away for two or three weeks at a time, and if it wasn’t for Mrs. Benton at the grocery store on Washington Street helping us out till he returned, I don’t know what we would have done,” Paynter said. “I didn’t have a heavy coat in winter so I would stuff rags in my clothes and around my shoes and put a towel around my head to keep warm when I walked to school. So I know what it’s like to be poor. And I know what good places like Community Services do for a community, and I just want to give back and make sure other kids will be warm this winter.”
He knew at the time that he wanted to give the merchandise away, Paynter said, but he didn’t know who to give it to. It was a conversation with his banker after he had made a mistake on a check he had written that he first learned all Community Services does in Clark County.
“I had written a check out to pay a recording fee on one of my houses to Clark County and it should have been Fayette County. When Mr. Walters from Community Trust Bank came out to pick up the new check, I told him about the stuff I had bought and he said I might want to give Judy Crowe a call,” Paynter said. “I really didn’t know that much about Community Services, but after talking to Mrs. Crowe and getting one look at their annual report of all the people they helped last year, I told her, ‘Here, it’s all yours.’”
Crowe knew that Kmart still had quite a bit of inventory left because she had been in to purchase clothing for Operation Happiness, she said, but just how much was left was a shock when she first saw it all in the storage building.
While looking over the piles of clothes and shoes Monday, Crowe said the types of clothing that was there was the most exciting part of the gift.
“It is just nice to see coats and jackets that working men can use. These are good serviceable clothes that our people can use. They’re not fancy clothes or trendy, fad clothes that will go out of style in a couple of months,” Crowe said. “It’s unreal how many used shoes we sell in the thrift store, so now to have new shoes that they can buy, they are going to be so excited. These are things that will be passed down from one child to another because they are new.”
It took four Kmart employees 6 1/2 hours to ring the items up, Paynter said, then several hours for six men to transport the merchandise to the storage building. So he knew it would take a long time for Crowe to go through the items — that’s why he rented the building to store them untill they could be sorted.
That’s something Crowe said she’s looking forward to doing.
“We’ll probably celebrate every day that we are up here digging through this because we will find something different every day. It’s going to be fun sorting through it,” Crowe said. “This was very generous on Mr. Paynter’s part, and we are very appreciative. Nothing will go to waste. We partner with several different groups in the community that help people so all this will stay in Clark County to help our people out.”
Contact Bob Flynn at email@example.com.