For almost 20 years, customers of the Columbus Kroger grocery store have been treated to a smile and a wink from Lillie Brown. A wife and mother of two, Brown has been bagging, checking, stocking, organizing and smiling for 19 years. During her time with the grocery store, she has never lost her positive attitude, which has made her a staple of Columbus residents looking for their staples.
How did you get started with Kroger?
Well, I wasn”t planning on being with Kroger that long, but it all started with a coincidence. Me and my mom were walking by the dollar store one day when I told my mom I was going to go fill out an application at Kroger. I just walked in and said, ”Hi, my name is Lillie; are you all hiring?” She said, ”Yes, here”s your application.” I just did the application, and she said, ”You can start Monday. Come to work from 11 to 3.”
Then I went, ”Wow.” I went back and told my mom and told her, ”I got the job just like that!” And from there I just loved working at Kroger and never went looking anywhere else. I just stayed at Kroger and started moving around doing different things. I”ve loved every minute of my 19 years here.
What all have you done during your time working for the store?
I started out as a cashier. Then I worked in the office. I was a file clerk, I worked drug/GM. I worked receiving at the back door. I”ve just done a flow of whatever they said. They say, ”I need you here,” and that”s where I go. I just enjoy doing it.
How do you keep such a positive attitude after 19 years?
I am the seventh child out of 11. We were just brought up that way. We were brought up to always treat people the way you want to be treated, always keep a smile on your face and always give respect. For the 19 years I”ve worked at Kroger I can say I”ve never had a customer complaint and I”ve never been written up. I just come in with a smile, do my job and I give it all to God.
God just does it, you know? When I get up in the morning time I pray. I thank God for my job, and I pray for everyone in the store. They don”t know that, but I do. I pray for the whole Kroger family, because we are a team. And as a team we work together, love each other and we do our job.
I understand you are the head of Kroger”s cultural council? What does that mean?
We try to get everybody in the store together as one team. We have little parties and we have a goal here at Kroger. We have to smile and greet and say thank you and have good eye contact and that”s what the cultural council is all about. It”s really helped me to be the person I want to be. That”s why I keep the smile on my face. I try to set an example to the next one coming in. I introduce myself to them and let them know if there is anything they need help with or if there is anything they don”t know how to do, I”m here to help. Don”t come in with an attitude. Come in positive, get your job done and just do what you are told.
Well you obviously don”t have a problem with smiling. What”s your secret?
I don”t have one. It”s like I said, I just give it all to God. And I tell people, if you put God first, you will be fine. And I put him first and I give him all the glory and the praise. You”ve got to love people. You”ve got to be a people person, and I”m truly a people person. I just love to work around people and I just love people. I just love everybody.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.