Known for her friendly smiling face at Woods Supermarket, Crystal Sims, who once wanted to be a doctor, has found her niche for the last 22 years at the store; a place where where she loves meeting local people and making a difference in the lives of children.
Sims began working at Food Barn, staying there 10 years before beginning at the Woods store located at 701 E. Broadway Blvd.
“I have a saying,” she said smiling. “Out of the barn and into the woods!”
While at Food Barn she began as a carry-out clerk but soon moved up to cashier. She moved into management when she started working for Woods.
“I was the first FEC (front end coordinator) for the Woods Company here in Sedalia,” she said. “Then I went to management.”
At present, she works as a shift manager, and also oversees health and beauty care and the liquor department.
“I also take care of customer service, just a little bit of everything,” she said. “I love it, I don’t just like it. I love what I do. I love meeting different people; I love seeing the kids who come in and seeing them grow up. I like having the kids that work here, I like giving them some structure to take into the real world with them. That’s why I love it.”
She said she also enjoys watching the people who come into the store and seeing all their different personalities. Several memorial moments stand out in her career of interacting with the public.
“One boy worked with me, he wasn’t going to graduate,” she said. “So, I took it upon myself to be his mentor. He’d bring his homework to me everyday and I helped him get through high school. I checked all his homework.”
Sims is always ready to give a hug or to receive a hug.
“I remember one time three little kids came in here with chicken pox, and I didn’t know it,” she said smiling. “They were leaving and moving out of town and they all came to tell me bye and they came and gave me hugs. Then their mom came up and said ‘Crystal they all have chicken pox.’ So, I was like oh my god; I started itching.”
Sims must have been immune to the pox because she didn’t get sick, but the memory of eager children wanting to say goodbye remains.
“I see kids out in the community and they say ‘Hi Crystal! How are you doing?’” Sims noted.
The children have grown and are taller than Sims, but they still ask if she remembers them. She also remembers a small 10-year-old who stole lunch meat from the store because he was hungry.
“I guess he was hungry, and he kept telling us that his mom and dad both worked at a factory,” she said. “So, we said ‘if you are hungry, we’ll feed you.’ Moments like that …”
Sims graduated in 1981 from Smith-Cotton High School and she never thought she would be working in a customer service-oriented job.
“I really wanted to be a doctor,” she said. “I came here and my daughter was 2-years-old; I started in ‘84. I never though I’d be around this long, it’s like a bad penny that just keeps popping up. I like it.
“Like I tell everybody, it’s not about money, it’s about learning,” she added. “It’s all about learning; learning different things every day.”
She said she’s happy and that’s important.
“That’s what I tell kids all the time, just be happy,” she added.
Sims, who has been described as a “friendly face of the community,” hopes to stay in her position for awhile longer and pass out a few more hugs.
“… Just to stay here and see where it goes,” she said. “A lot of older people, I give them hugs, because they might not get hugs at home. They love that.”
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.