ROCKLAND — As anyone who has come home from the grocery store knows, there is an art to bagging groceries so the bread doesn’t end up squished under a bag of potatoes and the hot rotisserie chicken isn’t melting the ice cream.
Amy Taylor, of Rockland, has this bagging system down pat.
“I’m probably the world’s pickiest bagger,” said the Shaw’s Supermarket employee. “And I tell that to customers when they say, ‘just throw all in the bag.’ And I start to stress. I say ‘I’lI can’t put this chicken in with this produce; I can’t do it!”
A part-time grocery bagger for the last 10 years, Taylor takes her job seriously. So much so, she just won “Maine’s 2018 Best Bagger Champion” at the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association’s Fifth Annual Best Bagger Championship September 27.
Her award provides her with an all-expense paid trip to San Diego for two to represent Maine at the 2019 National Championships in February at the National Grocers Association Show.
If you were unaware that such a competition exists, you are not alone.
“Yeah, who knew?” she said. “Every independent grocery store has their own competition and then, it just gets bigger from there. A lot of my customers had no idea about it and have asked me to explain what it is.”
Taylor, 33, is not only a grocery bagger, but also works part time as a K-5 substitute teacher, as well as a third job as a work-study student at the college of the University of Rockland. She is also putting herself through college to earn her education degree. She is also a mother to four young children.
The most exciting part of this upcoming competition for Taylor is not necessarily the chance to compete for the grand prize of $10,000; it’s getting on a plane and leaving Maine for the first time in her life.
“I have to say I was very nervous at first when they announced I was the winner [of the 2018 Best Bagging Competition] because I knew that meant I had to get on a plane and go clear across the country.”
When she arrives in San Diego, the competition, which is held over a period of three days, will test 32 grocery baggers from all over the country on their skills in a series of heats. Taylor says the key is practice. The competition will require speed and ideal item placement in several reusable grocery bags.
“I’ve been doing this for so long that for the state championships, I didn’t need to practice my speed,” she said. “I took a more logical approach. Since we knew what the items to be bagged were going to be ahead of time, I divided each bag equally by weight, figures out how each item should be stacked, wrote it all down and memorized the placement of the two smaller bags.”
Asked it she is still using her shifts at Shaw’s Supermarket to continue to practice until the February event, she said: “Yes, I can’t help it. Then I drive myself crazy with it and tell myself to stop.”
Maine will be rooting for you Amy Taylor.
For more information of the NGA Best Bagger Championships visit: National Grocers
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com
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