Candice Lastimado of Metropolitan Market in Seattle, Washington, this week defeated 24 other best bagger competitors from across the nation to claim a grand prize of $10,000 and the title of the National Grocers Association (NGA) Best Bagger Champion.
Washington has done well in the national “bag-off” competition. The 2015 national champion was David Tochinskiy, a clerk at Spokane’s Rosauers Supermarket.
In addition to Tochinskiy, Washington State has a history of accomplished grocery baggers who have gone on to national fame. In 2012, Andrew Borracchini of Metropolitan Market won the national competition. The state’s 2010 best bagger, Jessica Lewis of Yoke’s Fresh Market-Foothills in Spokane, continued on to nationals where she placed second.
Designed to promote supermarket employees and demonstrate a superior core customer service skill, the nationwide competition has been held by NGA since 1987. Contestants are judged by speed of bagging, proper bag-building technique, weight distribution in the bag as well as style, attitude and appearance, and are chosen through statewide competitions over the course of the previous year.
Bethany Berger of Shaw’s Supermarket in Vermont was awarded the second place prize of $5,000, and the third place prize of $1,000 went to Lauren Gillson of Lunds & Byerlys in Minnesota. Fourth and fifth place winners, winning $1,000 each, were Janessa Plummer of Plummer’s Shop ‘n Save in Maine and Nathan Toth of Martin’s Super Markets in Indiana, respectively.
“Year after year, NGA has the pleasure of holding an event that demonstrates the collective spirit and work ethic of the supermarket industry. So often baggers or courtesy clerks are the last impression a customer has of a store and, because of this, superior bagging skills, along with friendly customer service, are critical elements to a positive shopping experience for the consumer,” said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of NGA. “I’d like to thank all of our best bagger participants for another exciting competition. Congratulations to Candice, who competed with great enthusiasm and showcased her commitment to excellent customer service.”