Wis. woman to compete in "Best Bagger" contest in Vegas

LITTLE CHUTE (WITI) -- A grocery store employee is turning a trip to the store into a show for shoppers -- and on Tuesday, February 11th, she will take her talents to the national stage.

If weekend chores had a soundtrack, the music might come from teenagers in the checkout aisle.

17-year-old Andrew Miller knows some shoppers see his position as a mindless, menial job.

"Most people don't think bagging is that hard to do," Miller said.

But then again, most people have never seen grocery store rock star Rachel Martin.

Somehow, 33-year-old Martin has turned checkout time at Larry's Piggly Wiggly in Little Chute into a show -- and shoppers seek her out.

"She is the best that I have ever seen," Diane Plotz said.

"I always make sure they see me. I say 'hello, how are you?'" Martin said.

Beyond that though, Martin doesn't have much to say.

"You bag a lot of groceries, so I guess you get good at it. I guess just concentrate on what you're doing," Martin said.

Martin does the bagging, and her co-workers do the bragging.

"The best and fastest bagger in Wisconsin," Peter Markelz said.

Martin won Wisconsin's Best Bagger Competition in October, and she will compete for the national title this week in Las Vegas.

"It's trying to be the best, go fast, and do it as best as you can. I practice like two or three times a week," Martin said.

She will be judged on speed and style.

"(The bags) have to weigh about the same weight," Martin said.

Martin's judges in Little Chute says she's already the best.

"One of the few times I came here where my groceries were bagged before I got my change back, so thank you very much," Joe Wegand said.

She works as if she's putting together a puzzle.

"She can visualize how she wants to put it in the bag," Markelz said.

"Boxes on the outside, jars in the inside," Martin said.

And each time, the bags are perfect.

"It was still done very well.  Hard stuff on the bottom, soft stuff on top, I'm ready to roll," Wegand said.

Martin is driven by a loss in the competition last year.

"She wanted to compete in the Las Vegas Finals.  That's what motivated her," Markelz said.

This year, her strategy is straightforward.

"Grab stuff and start bagging it," Martin said.

Bagging is a famously tedious task, but for Martin, that doesn't matter.

"I just care about what I'm doing -- no matter what it is," Martin said.

With that attitude, her co-workers say she should have the championship in the bag.

"Hopefully come out on top," Martin said.

The National Grocers Association's "Best Bagger" contest will be held on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Several employees from Larry's Piggly Wiggly in Little Chute will be on hand to cheer for Martin.