It’s Saturday morning, a few days before the holiday, and shoppers are swarming about.
Produce manager Dave assesses the situation and gives rapid direction.
“Maureen, get that spud table in shape!” Dave says, firm but not unkindly.
“Mary, help Chuck on the wet rack. It’s all he can do to keep up with those relish items and the prep work too. Ken, take over for Ron in the back room — he needs to get out for a lunch break. Geez, he’s been here since 4 a.m. Hurry, but don’t make a mess — and be careful, the floor is slick.”
Dave picks up some bagged apples that have fallen, then quickly straightens the orange display. He shows sales figures to his assistant, Simka.
“Look, we’re doing 18% of total store sales. We should have enough ad merchandise to get through today, but I’m worried about the last couple days before the holiday,” he says.
“Can you look over the order and see if we need to add anything before the deadline?”
A customer bullies her way between them.
“I need a fruit basket right away,” she says.
Dave gestures to several on display. The customer frowns.
“I need a fresh one. Can you make it while I finish shopping? I’ll be back in 10 minutes,” she says.
Dave shrugs it off, trying to maintain his cool.
“I just made those baskets an hour ago.” Simka says.
Dave says, “It’s all right. We’re mostly caught up. Knock that out while I stock the bones real quick — and the herbs too. Boy, those things fly off the shelf during the holidays, don’t they?”
The Muzak is interrupted with a crackle.
“Produce, we need service on 12. Also please send three clerks to help in the front end!” the front-end manager commands.
Simka rolls her eyes.
“Third time this morning,” she says. “Oh well.”
Don’t you just love the holidays?
RJ Haskins of the Brattleboro Food Co-op, Brattleboro, Vt., recently shared this list with me, their “Produce Department Holiday Manifesto.” I thought it fitting, especially as we move through the hectic holiday season.
Here it is, with a big thanks and tip of my holiday hat.
- Bring positive energy to the workplace every shift.
- Create and maintain attractive, abundant and well-culled displays.
- Make certain that everything in the cooler and prep room is represented on the sales floor.
- Make sure signs are accurate and clear — it will boost sales.
- Show patience for the abrasive and clueless.
- Hydrate product and self appropriately.
- Pace yourself for the long haul.
- Watch your back and lift properly.
- Try to leave concerns of the workplace at the workplace.
- Leave a little energy left over for friends and family at the shift’s end.
Armand Lobato works for the Idaho Potato Commission. His 30 years of experience in the produce business span a range of foodservice and retail positions. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are your tips for surviving the holiday rush? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.