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Local Shop Touches Lives, Helps Blind

Time Served: A new series following the long-time, dedicated employees that fill the shops of Shorewood starts at Walgreens.

Sandy has worked in Shorewood for almost 40 years.

You know her — she is the trusted face of the beauty counter at this well-known store, and has been there for 35 years this month, having started  in March of 1978. 

Sarah has worked there six years.

She has a little-known following of customers who would otherwise not be able to shop for themselves. They're a regular group of blind and visually-impaired customers who know when her shift starts, and whose worries are over when they know she is there.

“I take care of this very special group of people who know me, and it means a lot to me to know I can help them,” she said.

Sarah takes them through the store, telling them about new items, and helping them with the experience.

“I know their favorite brands, the packaging that is better, and what they’ll need,” she said.

Shorewood's Walgreens, 4081 N. Oakland Ave., is full of helpful Shorewood faces like Sandy and Sarah, that have been serving the village for decades.

Sandy came to the store just as a way to earn some money with little kids at home, working nights and weekends. Then she was offered the position after the beauty person quit, and she thought she’d, “try it out for a little bit.” 

35 years later, she is a welcome sight for all in the store. She has stayed with the company not just for the people, but also because of wonderful job security and benefits, “being the head of a department helps, too.” 

She likes that people understand that she knows the store very well. She isn’t too worried about the future of the store in Shorewood.

“I hope they have a mailbox and good parking, though – that mailbox gets a lot of use, especially by me,” she said.

Sandy also helps customers who have been coming for years who may need extra help or understanding.

“There are some who I know what they need, what they’ve been buying, and I can help them find the coupon or special they saw in the paper.”

Sandy reports that her customers have become dear friends over the years. She has seen small children grow up, and come back with their families and remember her.

“They yell, ‘oh my gosh, you’re still here’ and I’m thrilled to see them too, '" she said. "We talk about their family members and catch up, finding out where they went, who they married, how many kids they have now.”

Sandy and her husband have four grandchildren now as well, and still attend St. Roberts parish, "for over forty years now, since ’66, we married there, had all our kids baptized there.”

Before her tenure at the corner store, Sandy worked at Benji’s Deli while in high school at Shorewood, where she graduated in 1970.  She also met her future husband at this first job — the brother of Benji’s then wife. The two have been together ever since, raising their kids in Glendale at Nicolet. Her favorite Benji’s food still gets brought home for family get-togethers.

“I get all the fixings for Reuben sandwiches there, plus matzoh ball soup, and bring it home and the family just loves it.”

Sarah appreciates how well the store takes care of their full-time employees.

“I have really good benefits, and they’re good to work for, ” Sarah said.

She is the photo lab manager and has already made a name for herself for delivering great pictures and for being patient with beginners who have to learn how to get digital prints made.

“My favorite customers are the ones with some new technology like a new digital camera, and I can show them how it works,” she said.

There are other people at the corner store who have served the Shorewood community. Oleg, the manager, worked the register in as a Shorewood High School student, and came back as a manger last year after working his way up in different stores. As Sandy’s boss, he reports “I have to remind her I’m not 16 anymore. My name is on the door, Sandy,” he jokes. 

Tim, whom many recognize as being the one to doggedly find that item they're seeking, wishing all to "have a good day now," has been there “only 30 years,” Sandy said. “I’ve got him beat.”

Anne March 05, 2011 at 03:04 PM
What a lovely story for a Saturday morning! I shop at Walgreen's all the time. . . and was never aware of these super ladies!
Denise Lockwood March 05, 2011 at 04:10 PM
Great story Jenny!

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