Stephanie Eveler was calm and cool as she quickly collected grocery items to place in two store bags.
The 20-year-old cashier was watched intensely by her "customers," who actually were Giant Food Store officials judging her and 11 other contestants during the company's ninth annual Best Bagger Competition.
The event was held Thursday at Giant Food Store 294 at Delco Plaza in West Manchester Township.
The contestants were from 12 stores in Giant's District 3, made up of stores in York, Hanover, Gettysburg and Eldersburg, Md. During the contest, competitors were encouraged and entertained by DownTown, mascot for the York Revolution baseball team.
Eveler, who works at Giant Food Store 6087 in Springettsbury Township, won the competition, which ranked bagging contestants on speed, product placement, distribution of weight, interaction with customers and on how well the bags were packed.
"I'm happy and surprised," she said. "This was my first time. I wasn't expecting (to win)."
Eveler received a first-place trophy and will represent the district at the Regional Best Bagger Competition to be held sometime in September at the Giant Store on Baltimore Street in Hanover. District 3 is in the store's West region.
Each competitor received at least $10 in gift card prizes and a medallion. Also receiving trophies were second-place winner, Leeann Phillips, and third-place winner Mary Hubbard, who works at the Delco Plaza site.
Phillips of Giant Food Store 461 in Hanover, also will represent Giant's District 3 at the regional competition. Phillips is a customer service associate and works in the pharmacy.
Like Eveler, Phillips competed in the bagging competition for the first time.
"It was so much fun, a great time together for all of us associates," said Phillips, of Penn Township. "I never would have thought I'd place in this competition. I would love to do this again."
The regional winner then goes on to the state competition in Harrisburg opposing baggers from other retail stores. The state winner would then go to Las Vegas for the national "Best Bagger" contest held as part of the National Grocers Association's Annual Convention.
Three years ago, a Giant Food Store employee from the East Region made it to the national competition, said Angela Streett[eya: cq: ], the company's customer service manager.
Jim Yinger, the master of ceremonies for Thursday's competition, said he was impressed by the contestants' skill level. They had fun while being good competitors, said Yinger, a Giant Store manager.
"This is a big-time deal for our company," he said. "It's a great contest, and the main thing is we're showing how we are committed to providing great service to our customers."
-Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.