Jo Barr, employee extraordinaire from our local IGA Bellingen, knows why Bellingen’s IGA is voted the best. “Look at our beautiful Deli. Look at our smiling faces. Watch as our produce dept cuts up the hard vegies for the little old ladies. Just ask our customers who receive their home deliveries. And look at that old fashion service provided by Lukie, carrying your groceries to the car. Seriously, I know how we win those awards. And hopefully so does Bellingen.”
Rod had a chat with this fun-loving local identity about life on the register.
How long have you been an employee at IGA Bellingen?
About 5 years. I started in the Deli but apparently I talked too much (or so Polly said). I broke my elbow and had about 6 months off, then was given a chance on the register and haven’t looked back.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Without sounding cheesy I really like the people. I pretty much know 80% of the customers by name and that always makes them happy. I love talking with the elderly, helping them if I can. I love watching the babies grow, from the womb to the age of stamps and school. I love to spruik about our beautiful town to the tourists and I always have a sympathetic ear to those who need it. Some people say “ I always feel better after being in IGA, I leave with a smile on my face.” From one smiley face to another, I think that’s awesome.
Share with us a funny work anecdote.
Funny like when you call for a price check on the box of condoms and embarrass the hell out of some poor kid. Or funny like when the lady comes back and wants a refund on her lemon because it was too sour….
Has the transition to banning single use plastic bags been easy? How would you say the customers have reacted?
Yes, I would say Bellingen has embraced the idea. Lucky we are Bellingen! People have been trying really hard to remember their bags and if they forget we have an abundance of boxes, people are more than happy to take a box. IGA sells many substitute bags and they are selling well. Although I think I have a new job for Lukie, its called “let me go back to your car for you and grab those bags from your boot”. I wish I had a dollar for every time I hear that.
Who is your favourite customer? (name as many as you like)
My favourite customer… Well it goes without saying my face always lights up when Rod Keers walks in. Apart from that I’ve got to say I love the babies.
Is it true your whole family has worked at IGA Bellingen?
Not quite, my beautiful daughter worked at IGA for a while but has since moved on to UNI and now works at IGA on the Gold coast. (She says it’s no where near as nice as our IGA). My “chip off the block” son is now talking his way into the hearts of IGA customers and staff. My husband…. NO
What’s your favourite aisle?
I have been seen lingering around the confectionary aisle sometimes. But the dairy/meat aisle is an important part of our diet.
Did someone teach you to be able to scan, talk, wave, smile and pack groceries all at the same time?
Oh you noticed that. All my working life I have worked with the public. Multi-tasking is just something that experience teaches you. Not to mention the fact that I AM A WOMAN!!!!!
IGA Bellingen is considered the best IGA in the State- why do you think it has that reputation?
What’s that saying about a picture is worth a thousand words? Look at our beautiful Deli. Look at our smiling faces. Watch as our produce dept cuts up the hard vegies for the little old ladies. Just ask our customers who receive their home deliveries. And look at that old fashion service provided by Lukie, carrying your groceries to the car. Seriously I know how we win those awards. And hopefully so does Bellingen.
Your best memory of childhood was?
I can’t think of just one, I was lucky to have a wonderful childhood. I had the best friends, great adventures and was lucky to be brought up in this great town.
Your best sporting moment was?
Believe it or not I was very sporty when I was at school. In those days we played sport to win not to just participate and have fun. You practised and tried out for teams, positions were sort after. But I think when I was in year 12 I was sports captain for Bellingen at our Annual Quirindi visit. We won and I accepted the Shield, held it well above my head and was so proud. Needless to say the Paparazzi went mad….
What would you like to be remembered for?
A lovely woman who was community minded, always there with a smile and keen to help when ever she could. Loved her children with all her heart. Stop it I’m gonna cry.
What are you reading right now?
What else. The “Outlander “Series. It’s about a gorgeous hairy Scotsman. (Wait that could be my husband!!) It’s a love story.
What are you listening to right now?
Audio books. I can’t see the words anymore, they are too small. Music- I listen to the 80’s, always the 80’s.
What really annoys you?
People that don’t wear deodorant and slow drivers.
The best lesson your parents taught you?
Never lower your standards, be who you are and be proud of it.
What project are you currently working on?
Getting my 15 year old through school and the dramas that go with it.
How do you relax?
Well this is Bellingen….
Favourite restaurant in the Shire?
Favourite holiday destination & why?
Well Iain and I were married in Las Vegas and we enjoyed it so much. We would love to visit America again and even Canada, Rocky Mountains. I just love the cold.
In the Movie Barr-gate, who would play you?
To be truthful Rod I don’t really know much about Watergate.