Check out the champions
Imagine if the Rugby Sevens was held in a tightly confined space – similar to say, the Abbey’s Auditorium on Centennial Dr.
Talk about party atmosphere! It’s colourful and it’s noisy.
There is loud music, a multimedia screen and coloured robo-lighting.
‘‘Superheroes’’ fill the seating. The cozzied crime-fighting company are armed with banners, mascots, hooters, tooters and thunder-sticks and their combined lung-power is something to (ahem) be-hear.
Mild-mannered supermarket staff by day, on Monday night they burst out of their telephone boxes and bat-caves in support of some 90 check-out operators competing onstage for the regional champion Checker of the Year title, and a shot at the North Island title.
Hugely anticipated by staff, the fun event, which has been encouraging friendly competition between stores for over 40 years, has its serious side.
Representing 14 Foodstuffs supermarkets from Horowhenua, Whanganui, Rangitikei, Wairarapa, Tararua, Manawatu and Palmerston North the competition was conducted over 22 heats on four real check-outs set up on stage.
Judged by a team of eight senior staff for speed, presentation, customer service and accuracy, the competitors had to scan 30 items as fast as possible, while staying friendly and composed.
There may be self-checking machines now in most supermarkets, but that hasn’t lessened the art and craft of being a great check-out operator. Foodstuff’s emcee Paul Bennett refers to the checkers as ‘‘the backbone of our business’’ who ‘‘help complete the customer experience’’.
Between the heats there were outbreaks of impromptu dancing, though the exuberance had to be curbed during each session so the operators could converse with the judges masquerading as customers, and concentrate on their task.
After all the fun and games and electronic peeping came the real results. Levin New World’s Megan McKenzie and Ashley Hurunui were first and third respectively, with New World Pioneer’s Samantha Neemia in second place. However, five of the city supermarket’s operators made the top 12, earning New World Pioneer the winning store award, with the crew from New World Foxton named best supporting team.
Megan will represent the region at the North Island awards in September.
The city’s Pioneer New World supermarket team celebrates winning the regional store award at Monday night’s regional Foodstuffs Checker of the Year competition. Second-placed check-out operator Samantha Neemia is at the far right.