Challenging the speed of light, Stephanie Teteak of Larry’s Piggly Wiggly in Kaukauna, Wisc., has won the 2012 National Grocers Association (N.G.A.) Best Bagger Championship, sponsored by the Kellogg Co., Bunzl Distributors Inc., and Pan-Oston.
The contest, emceed by “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert, was held Monday during The N.G.A. Show in Las Vegas, Nev. This is the 26th year of the Best Bagger Championship, which drew competitors from 24 states across the country.
The N.G.A. Best Bagger National Championship is a year-long, nationwide program in which the top grocery baggers in the country compete for prizes and the title of “America’s Best Bagger.” Contestants are judged on speed, bag-building technique, weight distribution between bags, and style, attitude and appearance. As the winner, Teteak takes home “bagging rights” as well as a $10,000 grand prize, the coveted “Golden Grocery Bag” trophy and the Pan-Oston “Best Bagger Golden Lane,” a special checkout stand that will be installed in her hometown Larry’s Piggly Wiggly store.
The contest awarded a total of $24,000 in cash prizes to contestants. The second place prize of $5,000 was awarded to Blake Westling of Byerly’s Grocery Store in Eagan, Minn. Rob Mow of Martin’s Super Markets in South Bend, Ind., came in third place, winning $1,000. Publix Super Markets picked up fourth and fifth place, with Alexis Jeup of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., and Bryan Nowell of Tuscaloosa, Ala., winning $1,000 each.
“This competition continues to shine a light on the incredible dedication and work ethic of grocery employees, particularly baggers, from all across the country,” said Peter Larkin, president and CEO of N.G.A. “These competitors are a small sample of the thousands of baggers all across this country who help customers every day with exceptional customer service and demonstrate an enormous amount of pride in what they do.”
Creative Choice Awards also announced
Also announced at Monday’s Grocers Awards reception was the 2012 Creative Choice Awards contest for best advertising and best merchandising by an independent grocer, sponsored by the Kellogg Co. and Unilever.
This year, the Creative Choice for Merchandising went to Broulim’s of Rigby, Idaho, for its “Wild Alaska Seafood Sale.” For advertising, the Creative Choice was awarded to Niemann Foods Inc. (County Market) of Quincy, Ill., for its “Free Turkey Loyalty Promotion.”
The Broulim “Wild Alaska Seafood Sale” not only offered great values on seafood, but also gave customers a chance to meet Edgar Hansen, deck boss of The Northwestern from Discovery Channel’s “The Deadliest Catch.” The seafood sale lasted one week, and other related events included in-store seafood cooking demonstrations and experts to provide cooking tips and healthful recipes. The event improved Broulim’s meat department sales by 20 percent.
Niemann’s “Free Turkey” campaign also yielded positive results. For the month before Thanksgiving, customers at County Market could scan their loyalty cards and, once they reached $300 in purchases, were awarded a coupon for a free turkey. The promotion provided the company a cost savings of $163,500, increased customer loyalty 50 percent (year to year) and increased loyalty sales during the promotion 23 percent. Due to its success, County Market plans to continue with the free turkey strategy in future years. The campaign was acknowledged by N.G.A. because it focused on customers, rather than competing on price with other retailers.
Each category had a total of four entries. They were judged by a panel of industry experts, and winners were selected based on the creativity, clarity and effectiveness of the entry.
“The Creative Choice Awards are always a crowd favorite, allowing us to see the ingenuity and creativeness of independent grocers all across the country,” said Larkin. “This year’s winners represent the ‘best of the best’ in knowing their customer base and fulfilling important needs for families in their communities.”
The N.G.A. Show continues through Wednesday, Feb. 15.
In the photo at top: Stephanie Teteak, third from right, is the 2012 N.G.A. Best Bagger champion.