There were a few misty eyes at FoodWorks on Friday when veteran Cathy Craig handed in her name badge after more than a quarter of a century at the grocery retailer.
Not that it has been FoodWorks all that time. Mrs Craig has worked at the one location since the premises opened as Country Stores in 1985, then stayed on through Boles, Foodtown, Chitticks Foodtown, Festival and IGA before the store assumed its current moniker.
As could be expected, barcode scanning of grocery items has been the biggest change over that time (although uniforms may come a close second). Workers used to wield pricing guns to stick a price label on most items. The individual price was then punched into the cash register as each item passed through the checkout.
Mrs Craig and long-term colleagues Barbara Curr and Anne Foan can well remember having to learn the weekly specials over the weekend so they could enter the correct price as the items came through.
Common items like bread and milk weren’t price marked at all, which was fine until the price changed and old habits had to change as well.
She feels the range of items on sale has broadened over the years, with some items formerly available in one size now offered in several varieties. Computerisation, however, has made shelf stocking and checkout much quicker.
While Mrs Craig said she has many fond memories of the people she has worked with and served, some memorable highlights include bomb scares, people dying in the car park, a number of robberies, and firebugs lighting up a bale of cardboard out the back.
“About the only thing we haven’t had here is a birth,” she said.
She will miss the daily contact of the 20 staff members at the store,
“Nineteen as of today,” she said.
Staff members will also miss her, with Mrs Craig still fielding questions as she signed off. They’ll have plenty more opportunity to pick her brains as she intends to keep doing her weekly shop there.
One thing she won’t miss is the 5am starts on the early shift during winter.
Her immediate retirement plans, after sleeping in, is to spend more time on the farm and with her grandchildren. While she hopes to travel in the future, she doesn’t rule out returning to work on a casual basis.
FoodWorks staff gave Mrs Craig a fitting send-off at the Tenterfield Bowling Club on Saturday night.