Tops Friendly Markets, a leading full-service grocery retailer in upstate New York, announced that Gina Trainello, Buffalo resident, and customer service lead at Tops Markets on Maple Road in Amherst, will be competing in the National Grocers Association's "Best Bagger Competition" on Feb. 10 at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Trainello took top honors at local and state bagging competitions and now will compete nationally for a chance to take home the National Grocers Association's "Best Bagger" honor.
"The grocery bagging process is a critical part of the customers' shopping trip," said Janet Perc, Tops Markets' director of customer service. "It's the last experience shoppers have in our stores and we want to make sure we're exceeding their expectations and making their trip to Tops as convenient as possible. We are so proud of Gina for the dedication she puts forth every day, and we're rooting her on in the final rounds of the competition."
The first of several qualifying competitions that Gina participated in was held at her home store, as she competed to move on to the district round within Tops. Each store held a bagging competition and the winners from that round went on to compete in Tops' district competition. One associate from each of Tops' 13 districts competed to see who would represent Tops in the New York state. After winning the district competition, Trainello moved on to the New York state Best Bagger competition, hosted by Price Chopper in Slingerlands on Nov. 13.
The contestants were judged in two rounds on their speed, weight of bags, how well the bags were packed and how many bags they used. Trainello scored a perfect 100 percent in both rounds.
Trainello will go on to represent New York at the National Grocers Association's Best Bagger Contest in Las Vegas on Feb. 10, where she will compete against approximately 24 participants representing grocery retailers around the country. Only the top five scoring participants will move on to the final round, and the winner of the NGA Best Baggers competition will take home a prize of $10,000.
The Best Bagger contestants will be required to use only three reusable bags during the preliminary and final round of the competition. Contestants must fulfill contest criteria to attain high scores, and thus are bagging against themselves for points, not against each other. Contestants will be judged on the following criteria: speed, proper bag building technique, distribution of weight between bags, style, attitude and appearance.
In 1987, the National Grocers Association held the first Best Bagger Championship in Dallas. Since then, N.G.A. has been bringing the country's finest baggers together to determine who is the best of the best. This contest promotes exceptional customer service through superior bagging.
Bagging has been an important step for many supermarket employees who have pursued long and rewarding careers in the grocery industry. Like so many gateway jobs, bagger positions often face high turnover. The bagging contest highlights the rewards of this position, and seeks to limit that turnover while demonstrating the value of baggers to customer service.
Tops Markets LLC is headquartered in Williamsville and operates 155 full-service supermarkets - 150 company-owned and five franchise locations under the Tops, Grand Union and Bryant's banners. For more information about Tops Markets, visit the company's website atwww.topsmarkets.com.