Written by: Rachael Eide – Training Coordinator
Get a job! The reality that money doesn’t grow on trees became clear as my parents gave me a “loving shove” out of the nest. As I neared high school graduation, I learned that part of entering the “real world” included working outside of the home—and something more than babysitting for the neighbors! There were expectations that I would assist in financing my teenage life? As if!
Flashback to the year 2000; I am a lovable, yet awkward, junior at Minnetonka High School looking for my first job. Luckily, three of my closest friends were already working for Lakewinds and encouraged me to apply. They often talked about how much fun they had at work and all of the characters they worked with. Not having much of a work history, I was hesitant, but decided to give it a shot. I was thrilled that my application made the cut and I got the call to come in for an interview. I can still remember what I wore and some of the questions I was asked! I was hopeful that the smiling face leading the interview wouldn’t pick up on the fact that I was incredibly nervous, she knew, but never let on. She was both encouraging and inspiring as she spoke about the co-op and the position I sought—two qualities I would soon understand to be the soul of this then stranger.
On May 27, 2000 I began my new adventure at the customer service desk. It didn’t take long to realize what my friends had been gushing about. It seemed that I was quickly welcomed into a new family or perhaps what might be better described as a co-op version of Cheers, as everyone seemed to know my name and was genuinely interested in getting to know me. My Saturday morning shift often began with a check-in chat with my manager, a reading of the daily horoscopes, and catching up with some favorite customers at the complimentary coffee pot. The atmosphere was always fun and we accepted the challenge of a very busy sales day head on. The Front End department buzzed as the team flew from register, to phone, to bagging, to the aisles—all in the name of providing the best shopping experience for our shoppers.
Growing up, I was introduced to many of the traditional co-op fare items like tofu, rice milk, whole-grain cereals and all of the green stuff, but this did not fully prepare me for all of the offerings available at the co-op. All of which, I felt the need to become an ‘expert’ on. Thankfully, throughout this self-tasked challenge, I had the help of a number of mentors (or should I say co-op mothers). To my benefit, a number of the women that I worked with, took me under their wing and educated me on everything from why co-ops are different, the products we sell and how to use them, to just life in general. Trust me, hearing about the symptoms of menopause I had “to look forward to” was well, frightening, but somehow, these conversations seemed to tie everything together.
All of their mentoring coupled with the always interesting conversations with customers, led me to grow as Lakewinds did. I was thrilled at the opportunity to supervise the newly formed Front End team as we opened the Chanhassen location in 2005 and touched by the heart-warming opportunity to make an impact our communities as the Outreach Coordinator in 2008.
Now, nearly 14 years (to the day) later, all grown up, with a family of my own, I am still close to many that welcomed me on my first day—staff and customers alike. Lakewinds has been a large part of my life—seeing me through high school graduation, marriage, and two babies. Currently working as part of the Human Resources team, I am able to return the mentoring favor to our newest Lakewinds recruits. By leading and coordinating a number of training opportunities, I can only hope to make an impact similar to what my experience has been. It always brings a smile to my face when I stop into the Minnetonka store and am recognized by so many long-time shoppers, or even cheering in the stands of a swim meet and discover the athlete next to my son is the grown-up version of a baby I held in the store!
As the years continue to pass, quicker by the day, I am grateful for all of the opportunities and experiences I have had here. Both the triumphant and trying have helped to shape me. The moments of friendship and learning, stumbling and overcoming are why I work at Lakewinds. Each day bring exciting new challenges, and I look forward to discovering what the future holds and the impact that I may have.
P.S. To any of my “co-op moms” reading this (you know who you are), thank you!
If you would like the opportunity to work at Lakewinds–join us at our Job Fair, May 15-17. We currently have over 75 positions available between our 3 locations! For more information: www.lakewinds.com/about-us/employment/lakewinds-job-fair/