It's in the bag

Metropolitan Market bagger wins state competition, heads to nationals

The way Glen Hasstedt describes it, focus is one of the keys to success. 

“It is about practice and consistency and being able to use good, quick judgment,” he said. 

He would know. The store director at Metropolitan Market in Magnolia (3830 34th Ave. W.) has been training grocery baggers for nearly a decade. 

And for the fourth time, a bagger under his tutelage is heading to nationals after winning the state’s Best Bagger Battle. 

Talia Randle won $2,000 and an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas in February as the state’s top grocery bagger, beating out eight competitors for the honor last month in Lakewood. 

“It was really exciting,” she said. “I was pretty nervous, being there, and being in the finalists and not hearing your name yet, but it was great.”

The two-round competition,  (one with paper bags, the other with reusable) is sponsored by the Washington Food Industry Association Education Foundation, and is judged on several factors. While baggers must be fast, there’s also an element of technique and how the items are bagged, as well as style, attitude, and appearance. 

Hasstedt tells the baggers he teaches to “plan your plan and work your plan”

“There’s a lot of noise involved,” he said. “It’s fast, it’s timed. There’s a lot of different distractions that can happen, so the bagger has to stay on his and her game.” 

If she wins, Randle will be the fourth national bagging champion from Washington state in the last five years, and the second consecutive national champion from Metropolitan Market. Last year, Candice Lastimado, a bagger in the West Seattle store, took home top honors. 

Randle also had some tips for those who may go through a self-check kiosk at their local supermarket. 

“You have to look at what you’re bagging,” she said. “Some people just do it mindlessly. You really have to build from the bottom up and have a good view of what you’re going to be bagging before you actually start.”

That means heavy groceries, and structural things like boxes and cans on the bottom, with lighter items and produce on the top. 

For someone that’s worked at the store for only five months, was there any thought when she started that competitive bagging, and a chance at a national championship in her mind? 

She summed it up with just two words.

“No way.”