Work in a Grocery Store

I have been thinking about how grocery stores were when I was younger, and how they are now.  I started in the grocery business when I was eleven years old, but got my first job at a store, not owned by the family, when I was 16.  I worked at Cleve’s Foodland during most of my high school days.  My job included, stocking shelves, bagging groceries and checking out customers (no, not that way!) Of course we didn’t have scanners for the groceries, so we had to manually enter the price for each item.  Some items, such as soup, were priced for multiple items, for example, Campbell’s Tomato Soup was 3 for 39 cents.  Vegetable soups were 4 for 45 cents, and the expensive meat soups were 3 for 55 cents.

Sales tax had to be added at the end of the order, but it was easy in those days.  Utah charged 2% for most everything.  If the order totaled $8.45 I would multiply the dollars by two and then add a penny if it was over 20 cents, or 2 pennies if it was above 70 cents.  Therefore, tax on the above was $0.17.

We had to memorize the price for produce and then weigh it on the scales at the counter.  Bananas were 19 cents/pound.  We would sell watermelon for 3 cents a pound, and sometimes on sale it was 2.5 cents.  And we had a “plugger” so we could “plug” the melon for the customers to make sure it was ripe.

Soda pop, as we called them sold for 6 for 49 cents.  Most sodas came in 10 oz bottles, but Coke was 7 oz.  They introduced the 12 oz bottles when I was a teen.  I liked to drink pop, but they were a pain at the store.  We charged a 3 cent deposit for each bottle.  The empty case, or shell we called it, was 28 cents.  So if a person bought a case of 24 sodas, the deposit was $1.  That part was easy, but getting the dirty bottles back at the store was a pain.  We would get them at the check stand when people were paying for their groceries.  We would have to haul the “empties” to the back room and at some point, sort the bottles based on the distributor. Ugg, touching all of those bottles, knowing that people had put their lips on them.

When I worked at the Island Market, we had two check stands, but only one cash register,  Each check stand had an adding machine, so we would total the order, then use the cash register to input the total, deposit the check or cash, and make change.  Floyd Saltern, the owner was either very trusting or lazy as he would only “balance” the register every week or so.  It would have been so easy to steal money, but he only hired those who he knew really well.

I worked for Floyd through my senior year and my freshman year at USU.  After my mission I again worked there until my senior year at college.  I came in almost every day after school.  I replaced a day time worker. One worker was Meryl Olsen, Merlin’s mom the NFL hall of famer.  After I came in each day she would do her shopping.  Upon checkout, she expected me to carry her groceries to her car.  Heck, Meryl was big enough to carry her groceries in one arm, and carry me with the other.

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