Duluth to Las Vegas: A student's grocery store-y

1173751_10151794080672710_711856054_n When putting on the green apron her first day as a grocery bagger at Lunds in Bloomington, Minnesota, 16-year-old High School student Chelsea Retzer turned her first job into an experience of a lifetime.

Retzer, now 19, is a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth, an active member in her sorority, and volunteers at Animal Allies.

For these competitions, baggers have to think about not just how fast you can bag, but also the weight distribution, techniques of item placement, and even their appearance.

“45 seconds and under is what I go for” Retzer explains, “glass cant touch glass and has to be in the middle of the bag, crushable items on the top of the bag”

She adds, “My uniform must look professional including all black closed toed shoes”.

Retzer first competed in bagging in a smaller competition where she went head-to-head with her co-workers at Lund’s. She won and landed herself a check for $100.

After winning at her individual store, she moved on to two other competitions. The first of which she was up against with the store winners from other Lunds and Byerly’s. Retzer ended up being named “Top Dog”, another term they use for best bagger, and winning $200.

Then, it was time for her to advance to the State competition at Mall of America for an even bigger cash prize. She prepared all summer for the state competition with her trainer, Dennis Calhoun.

“Dennis is the person who does all the orientations to train new employees in at the grocery stores around the state.” Chelsea recollects,” We prepared very hard for the state competition.”

Retzer won the State competition along with $500 and a free three-day tip to Las Vegas on February 11th to compete.

“I get to compete for the title of “best bagger in the Nation!” Retzer says, “For the competitions in Minnesota, I only had to bag two bags and we roughly knew all the items that were going to be used. In Vegas I have to bag three bags and we aren’t 100% sure what the items are going to be.”

Retzer is excited to represent her company and to give it her all. The first place prize includes a check for $10,000 and an appearance on the David Letterman Show.

“All the customers have been extremely supportive and encouraging. My store has signs with my face on it all over the store,” Chelsea explains, “It has been fun to get recognized and congratulated by random people.”

On February 11th, Retzer jets off from Duluth in hopes to become the nations best bagger. Good Luck Chelsea!

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Duluth's early front-page newspaper graphics