home and his family.

“If you’re looking for a long-term job and some stability, then Co-op is a great place to be.”

That feeling is common among Co-op employees, and for some, being there isn’t about moving through the ranks as much as it is finding a place you love to be, and getting the most out of it.

Marlene Rinke has been a cashier with Co- op in Medicine Hat since June 17, 1985. The date rolls off her tongue with pride because she has loved every minute

just wait to come through so we can have a chat,” Rinke says. “The customers really mean a lot to me. When they leave my checkout, I want everybody to feel like they had a good time and that they’re leaving happy.”

If you’re looking for a

long-term job and some stability, then Co-op is a great place to be.

of her time spent there — at first at 13th Avenue, then off to Northlands when it opened in the early 1990s. Being at the checkout puts Rinke in one of her favourite places, a place she can be with the people she cares most about — the customers.

“You get to talk with them, you get to laugh with them — a lot

She’s been at the till for so long she’s actually been able to watch many of her customers grow up, joking that she has “so many kids, she can’t keep track of them all.” But that’s just how it is for Rinke — these people become like relatives.

Just like her

coworkers, which she says are like a second family. She’s often baking treats or crocheting blankets with her St. Pat’s Church group to give to staff members or customers in need or who might be sick.

“It just makes me feel good to give them something that will cheer them up or give them warmth and comfort,” she says. “I

just really care about these people, and without them we couldn’t be here.”

Rinke nearly tears up as she thinks about slowing down and finding a time to retire from her longtime post, but she feels a warmth in her heart when thinking about what the people in and around South Country Co-op have meant to her. It’s no different for Wickham, who didn’t hesitate when asked what he’ll miss most when he finally does leave.

“When you’re in this business, you get to meet a lot of people, in and outside the company,” Wickham says. “That’s the best part, I think.”

CO-OP Telling our Story | 15

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