Talk about serving others with a smile — that’s Steve Regnier. His last name is pronounced “like the mountain, the prince and the SUV,” Steve said. Smiling.
The first thing I noticed, after seeing Steve’s kind demeanor and smiling face, was the care with which he sacked my groceries. Steve doesn’t haphazardly throw your items into bags like clothes into a dryer. He places them there – next to the right stuff – double bagged.
You won’t see him put your chicken next to Clorox. In a world of hurry, it’s a nice act and one that many customers have come to count on. Certainly, appreciate.
“Customers who’ve been coming here for 20 years, will come in and say, ‘Where’s Steve?’ Usually, they know his schedule,” says store manager Ed Turpie. Steve does more than sack groceries with care. He cares period.
“He keeps track of everybody,” said Lisa Wilbanks, the store director. “He knows everybody and their families.” I’ll say.
Ask for Steve
One of Steve’s customers is having a baby and he remembers when she was just a baby. “I used to look at some of my customers when they were this tall,” he showed me. “Hi, how you doin’?” he’d asked. “Now they’re six footers!” Steve said, smiling like a proud pa.
Customers look for Steve when they come in the store. When he goes on vacation, he’s missed. They go to Lisa worried that Steve’s moved to another place of work. Lisa quickly explains to them that he’s on vacation. “He has such a large fan base that even if I deviate his work schedule - I hear about it,” Lisa laughed.
“He has such a large fan base that even if I deviate his work schedule - I hear about it,” store director Lisa Wilbanks laughed.
When he’s not sacking groceries and loading customer’s cars, Steve empties trash, cleans the windows, the doors in the frozen foods department. He oils the wood throughout the store.
“He does everything,” Lisa claimed. The manager called Steve, “My man for all seasons.”
Steve’s usually off on Wednesdays and Thursdays but during Thanksgiving week, he worked that Wednesday because he wanted to. “He’s always looking out for his customers and employees,” said Veronica Leppala. She should know. She’s the courtesy booth operator. “Customers like seeing someone they know and trust.”
Customers enjoy chewing the fat with Steve. They share the latest in politics, sports and more. According to Veronica, Steve’s their in house weatherman. “He keeps everyone informed about what’s going on in the area.”
End of an era
Some claim that with Rice closing, it marks the end of an era. Customer service. As Lisa pointed out, in a lot of the big stores you have to go looking for someone to wait on you, “let along talk to you.” Steve’s made a contribution in customer service plus some. He’s built community. A community that will keep well in many hearts - long after the store closes.
Aside from being the most likeable guy at Rice Epicurean, Steve’s trusted. After Steve’s sacked their groceries, some customers give him the keys to their car! Often, I was told, Steve will have loaded their car and be back inside returning their keys to them. That is trust.
Steve’s made a contribution in customer service plus some. He’s built community. A community that will keep well in many hearts - long after the store closes.
What makes a good sacker, I asked Steve? “I try to put them in the right category.” he answered. “No more than medium heavy, especially if they’re senior citizens. Common sense stuff,” he said, looking downward. Golden Rule stuff.
“I’m not the fastest sacker,” Steve told me, “but I like to sack em’ right.” For those of you who’ve experienced grocery bag disasters (especially when toting them long distances) you can appreciate Steve’s thoughtfulness.
Not surprisingly, Steve says that one of the best parts about his job is his customers. He likes being with them and the feeling is mutual. Just ask Frances Bogatto, who has been shopping at this location for 50 years.
“Steve’s the greatest guy,” Frances said. “I shop here because of Steve. He knows exactly how to sack my groceries.”
Her other family members shop at Rice too. “They’ll come home,” Frances claimed, “and say, ‘Well, I saw Steve!’ Everybody who shops here knows Steve…they wait for him!”
He’s such a kind, thoughtful, caring individual,” Lisa said. “He puts so much into his job.” In all his years at Rice Epicurean, he’s hardly missed a day of work. “You can set your clock by him,” she claimed. Many do.
Steve works quietly and with care. He goes the extra mile every day. Smiling. Being thoughtful – of everyone around him.
He is indeed a man for all seasons. For that matter - the world.