THUNDER BAY – Readers Ledger – I’d be lying to you if I said I loved every minute of working at Quality Market in Centennial Square – because I didn’t. But then again, who loves every minute of their job? Well, my former boss at QM certainly comes to mind. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who was so into to being a grocer – it was almost nerdy.
But our family certainly appreciated the Stezenko brothers drive and competitive spirit – we shopped there for 20 years.
When it came time to get a job, I figured I was qualified enough to lift things and put cans of stuff on shelves. I didn’t like the idea of working for a big company, and I was at least familiar with Quality Market, so I applied there. It was the beginning of the Safeway Strike of 2001. Dave Stezenko called me on the morning of the strike and asked if I could come in for an interview.
Whether he was desperate for bodies or I genuinely wowed him during the interview, Dave hired me right away and I went to work. I stayed there for four years. I was called a “courtesy clerk.” The Produce Department was considered the plum position, but I was happy to be working. It didn’t take me long to realize the same people came to Quality Market every day. An old gent named Fred – who I believe was closing in on 100 by the time I met him – was a regular. Another customer would come in and sing what I’m pretty sure was opera. A woman named Ida would regularly come in, give me heck, suddenly turn nice, and then I would have to walk her across the parking lot to the Victoriaville entrance. All in a day’s work for the lowly courtesy clerk.
I felt like anything but a lowly courtesy clerk when the staff Christmas Party rolled around. The Stezenko’s would hand out 100 dollar bills as prizes along with trips and various high priced merchandise.
I was not at all happy to hear Quality Market is going out of business. I genuinely thought they’d be around forever. Congratulations on 24 years of service and all the best. Although, I really could have used a Saturday off now and then…