Sergeant Bluff’s Student Is Iowa’s Best Supermarket Rampager

SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (AP) — The best way to pack groceries is to create walls with boxes while grouping similar items together so they all go together. That is, unless there are bottles, which can break when placed side by side.

These are Nolan McGregor’s recommendations – and he should know it.

The 20-year-old Sergeant Bluff Fareway employee and Western Iowa Tech student earned first place in the Iowa Grocery Industry Association’s 35th Annual Iowa Best Bagger Contest, held Aug. 12 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

“The Iowa Best Bagger contest shines a light on Iowa talent and the grocery industry in a very positive way,” said Michelle Hurd, president of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association. “Grocery baggers play an important role when it comes to creating a positive shopping experience for customers.”

Beating 14 others in a contest that involved speed, item layout, weight distribution, and overall appearance, McGregor earned himself a trophy, a $500 cash prize, and the title of “Iowa’s Best Bagger. “.

More importantly, he will now be able to compete in the National Best Bagger competition in Las Vegas in February 2023.

It’s remarkable for McGregor, who started working at Fareway at 14 when his mother told him he needed to get a job.

“I was at Fareway during my high school days at Sergeant Bluff-Luton and now my middle school years at Western Iowa Tech Community College,” he told the Sioux City Journal.

Prepared to graduate in business management in December, McGregor wants to continue working at Fareway at the corporate level.

“I think the grocery industry is pretty stable,” he explained. “After all, everyone has to eat.”

No two days are alike in a grocery store.

“You never know if you’re going to be working on a freezer or checking people out in the express lane,” McGregor said. “One person wears a lot of hats here.”

Indeed, he said cooperation can go a long way.

“A cashier and a bagger will often work as a team,” McGregor explained. “A cashier will group things that need to be together while a bagger will place them in the appropriate bags.”

A good rule of thumb is that plastic bags allow a bagger to go faster while paper bags allow them to be cleaner. Reusable bags are a great in-between option.

Even though he entered the Iowa Best Bagger contest, McGregor never thought about winning.

“Some of the other competitors were timing themselves and practicing before the day before,” he said. “I didn’t do any of that.”

Instead, McGregor relied on his instincts as well as the knowledge he had acquired over the past six years.

“A good bagger is always thinking,” he said. “He’ll see what’s coming and plan accordingly.”

So, will McGregor be training ahead of his appearance in next year’s National Best Bagger contest?

“I don’t know,” he said modestly. “I will be representing the entire state of Iowa. Maybe I should take the contest a little more seriously.