Commissary seeking to cultivate young baggers
February 24, 2014
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Feb. 21, 2014) -- They work with lightning speed and efficiency, each move strategic, every technique finely tuned to ensure the success of their mission.
They are the first line of defense against clogged checkout lines and the last face customers see before returning home, groceries safely in tow.
Yes, baggers are an invaluable component of commissaries, here and abroad, and the services they provide extend far beyond the sliding glass doors.
"They're our goodwill ambassadors; they're the ones who the customers know," said Gregory McGruder, store director, Schofield Barracks Commissary.
"They hear recommendations from the customers and are able to pass those requests on to me," McGruder added. "For example, now we have a full-fledge setup of organic fruits and vegetables. That idea came from the baggers.
"They provide a lot of hands-on touches for the customers, because they know the customers," McGruder stated. "They provide that personalized service that's important."
Baggers have been present in military commissaries dating back to the mid-1950s, and, consequently, customers have come to expect to see baggers hard at work in stores.
The bagger position is open to anyone -- students, spouses, Soldiers and retirees; however, baggers are neither government nor Commissary employees. Rather, they are self-employed licensees of the installation commander. In other words, they are voluntarily "hired" by the customer to bag and carry out groceries in return for a tip, which is their sole means of payment for a job well done.
"You can make a couple hundred dollars a day very easily, especially if you have the smile, the charisma and the positive attitude," McGruder said. "But, sometimes, customers forget to tip the baggers, and that's a shame, because being a bagger is hard work, and they should be paid for the services."
"It's a great place for spouses or dependents to work, and it's a great place for students to work if they're trying to pay off college tuition," said Jeremy Nichols, a bagger who works at the commissary, here, to earn extra money to help pay for his studies at Hawaii Pacific University.
"I'm using (this job) to make a little money to eat and to pay my school bills," Nichols said. "I have two other jobs, but this is my fun job."
While having a little extra cash stowed away is nice, the professional experience commissary baggers gain is priceless.
"This job is really a developmental job," said McGruder, who himself began his career within the commissary as a bagger.
The screening process to become a commissary bagger is conducted through the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. Those interested may contact 808-656-0083 or 808-656-0102.