Angie Smith spent her last day on the job much the same way she spent every day of her career — making customers smile.
Smith, Washington, closed a 40-year old career with Schnucks on Sunday.
She spent most of her final day working the self-check out aisle joking with customers, squeezing babies and reminiscing about a career in customer service that gave her an opportunity to turn customers into friends.
According to her colleagues and members of the Schnucks family, it is a talent that came naturally to Smith. She was described by one co-worker as the friendliest employee at “the friendliest store in town.”
“She has a contagious personality,” Craig Schnuck said Friday at a retirement party held at the store. “She is just special, one of a kind,” he added.
Craig Schnuck, chairman of Schnucks executive committee, was among a group of Schnucks’ executives who attended the party. They presented a teary Smith with a gold watch for her service with the family-owned supermarket.
“We transferred her out here in 1995 when we acquired the National store to help us bring the Schnucks culture to the community and she has really helped us do just that,” Schnuck added.
“I’m going to miss the people the most,” Smith, 60, said Sunday. “I’m a people kind of person. I’ve dealt with customers for 40 years and if I had a dollar for every one of them that I got to know personally, I could have retired on a yacht years ago.”
Smith started her career with Schnucks working as a checker at its Ballwin store in May of 1972. Over her career she has worked in the service center, the bakery department and as a customer service manager. After battling a series of health problems over the past few years, Smith returned to work as a checker.
“I’ve come full circle,” she joked.
Smith said the Schnuck family has been taking care of her throughout her career. When her home in Valley Park was destroyed in a flood in the early 1990s her family lost most of their belongings. She said the Schnuck family sent a truck over to the house to help her family collect and store their belongings. They also rented her a new house.
“I could go on and on about the Schnucks,” Smith said. “You wouldn’t believe the stuff they would do for us. They are just incredible people, just a good family. I wanted to make my 40 years and they let me come back after my medical issues. They put me here (self-check aisle) so I could use this stool to sit on.”
“I got to know Angie when I was 17 or 18 years old when we worked together at the Ballwin (store) produce department,” Mark Schnuck, president and CEO of Desco Group, explained at her retirement party. “We worked hard but we had a lot of fun too. She is a beautiful person and we are so blessed to have known her. She is going to be missed. You can’t replace someone like Angie.”
“Angie was a teammate loved by all,” Dave Nolte, Washington Schnucks store manager, said. John Schreiber, the store co-manager said Smith’s gift was a passion for people. “Our customers loved her and she loved them.”