Who knew winning a grocery shopping spree would lead to a 44-year career?
For longtime Dillons employee Jan Moore, that is exactly what happened. For more than four decades, Moore has helped the community through her care and expertise. Today, she retires from customer service and begins her “new job” as a grandma of a two-month old.
Moore's career with the grocery store began in April 1976 when she was living and shopping in Manhattan. She decided to apply for a job at Dillons and while at the store, she saw they were giving away a three-minute shopping spree.
She entered the contest — and won. Moore did not even have a telephone at the time, so a Dillons employee came to her house to inform her of her award.
“I was so nervous,” Moore said. “When I was young, I was extremely shy.”
After a successful sprint through the store and over $500 in groceries later, Moore also hit the jackpot, as she was offered the job she applied for. She started at that Dillons location, though she transferred to the Emporia store No. 39 location soon thereafter when her husband decided to pursue an education at Emporia State University. As soon as they moved to Emporia, Moore started cultivating her reputation as one of the most popular and friendliest customer service representatives in town.
”It worked for me,” she said, choking back tears. “It fit me. I always loved the customers and the people I worked with, so it’s very bittersweet right now, and it’s kind of hard to leave. They’re like my family.”
Moore continued to transfer to other local locations as the stores opened and closed. She ended up back at store 39 and concludes her time at this location. She said her work family especially made the transitions easy. No matter where she went, she felt embraced.
“Everybody’s close, and they care about Jan,” Moore’s current boss Shami Delgado said with tears. “She’s like the matriarch of our store. It’s going to be hard to be without her. I’m her boss, but she taught me almost everything I know about my job … and about life, too.”
Delgado said Moore’s retirement will be a huge loss to the community but that she is happy for Moore to be able to spend more time with her grandson.
“You will probably never meet a better human being,” she said. “She would do anything for anybody. She would pay for anything for anybody if they didn’t have it. She wouldn’t let anybody go without.”
When asked what has changed over the years, Moore likes to remind people of a time when carbon paper was used to make copies of files. Also, instead of manually entering the price of each item at the register, items are now swiped across a scanner that captures much more than just the price. She has also noticed how the world has sped up, and customers have sped up, too, in response. There are countless other changes, and Moore has kept up throughout. Some things have stayed constant, too.
“I don’t think the associates, my fellow workers and the customers have really changed that much,” she said.
Moore said she has learned a great deal from her coworkers and bosses, though she has also learned much from the customers. She feels fortunate to have received education in this way. Though it has been challenging to keep up with the technological changes, she has had a good work family to help answer her questions.
“It makes a huge difference who you’re working with, and I’ve always been lucky,” Moore said.
The work family extends to the customers. Moore recalls a time at a meeting where she was asked who pays their paycheck. The answer: the customers.
“I have always remembered that,” Moore said. “That is who you want to focus on — your customers.”
Moore’s work ethic is further informed by her father’s teachings and her personal experiences.
“You need to be at work when you’re scheduled, and you need to be there on time,” she said, one of the lessons her father instilled in her. “Do your job the best you can each day, and that’s all I try to do.”
Thinking back on her favorite times at Dillons, Moore mentioned how exciting it was for her to sell the first lottery ticket in the Dillons West location. She sold the ticket to her boss in 1987.
“He always told me he’d never scratch them off, and I’ve always wondered if he ever did,” she said.
Moore was also always fond of the Christmas season and general customer and coworker cheer that filled the store around that time.
Moore said customer service has taught her more about the world. She is a homebody and enjoys learning about things going on in the community and the world through her interactions with customers. If Moore is not known for her position at Dillons, she is known around her area for deeply loving and frequently walking her dogs.
Moore was already considering retiring when the novel coronavirus pandemic struck, but the virus and the birth of her grandson helped move her in that direction.
“I want to go and be able to be a grandma to him,” she said.
Her daughter will soon return to work, and her son-in-law will be working from home, so being there with the baby will help the parents as well as give Moore high quality grandma time. Her daughter lives in Arkansas, so Moore will quarantine at home before traveling there and staying for a while. Keeping the baby safe is a priority.
“I’m happy and I’m excited and feel very fortunate in my life,” she said. “I think I felt lucky, because health-wise, I’ve been able to work, and I know a lot of people aren’t. Those are the people I feel for — that aren’t healthy enough to get to do what they want — so I feel very blessed.”
Overall, Moore feels she is in a good place and is very happy. She is excited and nervous for “this new way of life,” and she holds faith that she will be taken care of.