Village Market employee could go to Las Vegas
How much groceries can a good bagger bag when a good bagger needs to bag really fast?
According to the East Central Ohio Food Dealers Association, a bagger should be able to properly stow 24 items in 35 seconds or less.
That means 19-year-old Whitney Tucker — a two-year employee of Village Market of Wellington — is going to have to shave significant time off her 47.97-second run, which won her first place in the Food Dealers championship round contest held in Canton on April 18.
There, she won first place after competing at the preliminary bagging competition at Buehler’s Market in Jackson Township, Ohio, on March 29.
Tucker competed with two other Village Market employees, 18-year-old Caitie Brasee, and Cody Mobley, also 18.
They were accompanied by store supervisor Mark Wright who, for the last three years, has taken local baggers to the competition.
“It’s a voluntary thing,” Wright said.
Tucker won $500, a plaque, and a chance to compete in the state contest in Lima, Ohio, on Aug. 8. There, she could win $1,000 and a chance to compete in the nationwide contest which will be held in Las Vegas.
The prize money in Las Vegas is $10,000. And the winner will get to appear on the David Letterman show. Letterman started his own working career as a grocery store bagger and invites the winner to a friendly competition on the show.
Out of a possible 29 points, Tucker earned the fist-place finish with 22.32 points. In the contest, each bagger is given the same items to bag in a reusable cloth bag.
They are then judged on speed (10 points), distribution of weight (five points), technique (eight points), and attitude/appearance (five points).
Both Tucker and Brasee said speed is an issue. It is nearly impossible to open the cloth bags, fill them properly, and get them into a shopping cart in 35 seconds.
Wright said good baggers are friendly, fast, and don’t generate customer complaints.
“I think we have a pretty good crew here,” he said.
There are techniques to use, depending on the items used in the contest.
“You don’t put glass against glass,” Tucker said.
“And don’t break the eggs,” Brasee added. A roll of candy or a pack of gum left on the counter is also unthinkable in bagging competition, and judges sometimes throw those in just to see who checks the entire counter before placing the bags in the cart.
“Go for the heavy things first,” Tucker said, “and distribute them evenly.”
The Village Market baggers did practice before the contest, timing each other, and coaching each other on techniques. They admitted they were nervous.
Now Tucker has until August to shave time off her technique. But with a trip to Las Vegas, $10,000 and a chance to meet David Letterman on the line, she is willing to put in the time.