Friday, September 7th, 2007
By Betty Lawrence
Coldwater man bags state grocery association championship
Andy Dobmeyer of Coldwater says it feels "pretty good" to be named Ohio's Best Bagger.
With all the agility and ease his 6'5" frame and long arms allow, Dobmeyer earned the bragging rights for that title by defeating 25 other competitors at the Ohio Grocers Association State Best Bagger contest.
Dobmeyer, 28, is a 12-year employee of Chief Supermarket in Coldwater.
When he took the state title in August at the Chief store in North Canton, Dobmeyer earned an all-expense paid trip for two to Las Vegas to compete in the national contest, and $1,000 cash.
"At the contest, I didn't do anything different to win and I didn't practice because I bag groceries about every day," Dobmeyer said in an interview at the Coldwater store.
His long arms and large hands quickly filled the empty waiting bags as he spoke.
There are four criteria for the contest, he said, including speed, proper bag building technique, distribution of weight between bags and style, attitude and appearance.
Twenty contestants were eliminated in the first round at the state event and five finalists then battled it out for the title.
"At the contest, we had to fill two bags, making them equal weight," he said.
Not only did they have just seconds to fill the bags, they had to adhere to the grocer association's bagging rules which say all the heavy items must be placed on the bottom.
In the second round, the finalists were required to fill two paper bags again, as well as three plastic bags.
He wasn't nervous, he said, even though nearly 100 spectators showed up for the state contest.
"Everyone got the same items to fill the bags with. You had to be fast and you had to do it the right way," he added.
The right way means no eggs and bread on the bottom of the filled bags. And glass bottles, well, they are not permitted to touch each other when bagged.
The contestants bagged a wide range of items, from potato chips and toothpaste to light bulbs and pork and beans.
Dobmeyer was nominated to compete in the contest by John Gardner, the Coldwater Chief store manager.
"Chief and Rays stores have been doing this (sponsoring the contest) for 21 years, but this is the first year we became involved," Gardner said
The trip to the state contest began when the 13 Chief and Rays grocery stores in northwest and west central Ohio conducted in-store bagging contests. The top three from each store then competed at a company-wide contest for the opportunity to head for the state event.
According to Dobmeyer, 40 states will be represented at the national bagging contest. The winner will receive $2,000 and an appearance on the David Letterman television program.
A small fan club of friends and family, including Gardner, plan to travel to Las Vegas in February to cheer on Dobmeyer.
Prior to the trip, Gardner said the Coldwater store will feature a large banner in Dobmeyer's honor and the store will be decorated Vegas-style to send the young man off.
"I imagine it will be different at the national contest. There will be more people. But I don't really get too nervous and I don't think I need to practice. I guess it just comes natural," Dobmeyer grinned.
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