Mystery man picks up tab at Walmart

Published: Nov. 17, 2018 at 8:22 PM EST
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Items on layaway at a Walmart in Derby were paid off in full by one mystery shopper.

A Christmas miracle in the Northeast Kingdom.

"I don't even think of I can find the words to say," said Julie Gates of Eden Mills.

Gates went to pick up a package on Thursday at the Derby Walmart. While in line, she overheard a conversation.

"He came up to the man in front of me and said, 'Either I am going to pay for it now or I am going to pay for it later,'" observed Gates.

The man then turned to her and asked if she was paying for an item on layaway. "He said why don't you run and get what you want now and come back here," said Gates who was skeptical, but putting items on layaway is why she was there in the first place. "So I came back and he was standing there waiting. There was no one left."

He paid for everything.

"This can't be, who can afford to pay for everyone layaway? And he said 'Santa Clause can,'" said Gates.

On Saturday the layaway storage room was filled floor to ceiling with items. Now, all paid for.

"It was kind of like surreal when they said no balance due, then it was really a reality," said Tammy Desautels from North Troy, who had her things paid for.

"I thought it was a rumor," said Brownington resident Sandra Cortez. who was also still in disbelief.

Walmart couldn't say how much the mystery shopper spent or how many people went home with free gifts. One shopper took a photo of him walking away, as the man didn't want to be named.

"There were people ahead of me who were eight, nine, hundred-dollar layaways," said Gates.

And many say this is more than just free Christmas Gifts, it's making sure people can now pay for what's important. Desautels said money has been tough since her husband broke his foot. She says gifts are now one less thing to worry about going into the cold winter months.

"Really have a feeling that there is hope for mankind or whatever. There's still good people out there," said Desautels.

On Saturday, recipients were still in shock.

"I want to thank him," said Cortez.

Especially Gates. "I get goosebumps thinking that -- that is the true magic of Christmas, that's the Christmas spirit walking among us," said Gates.

Was it St. Nick himself? Or maybe an elf? We may never know.