This is a story all about Mr. Storey.
For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood, we sat down with Dave Storey, long-time greeter at the Walmart Supercentre in Collingwood. After years of spending his work days bringing joy to the lives of people who cross through Walmart’s door, in three weeks Storey will be hanging up his smock in Collingwood to transfer to the Wasaga Beach location.
Q: What made you want to become a greeter?
A: The original game plan was for me to be out on the floor. Due to back issues, I wasn’t able to do it. Alfredo (the store manager) asked me, “How about greeter?”
It’s something that he had been processing in his mind.
I said to him, you should greet people like you’re welcoming them into your house. Somehow, that struck a chord. So, it just kind of happened.
I enjoy people. I’m a people person, and it clicked... I’m just me, being me.
You have to really enjoy people (to do this). You can’t put it on, or it’s not genuine. I have a blast doing it. You get to meet a lot of nice people. I see kids who come in here and they just have a big smile on their face, they’re all lit up when they get a smiley sticker on their hand. They’re the future.
Q: What has your life been like leading you to this point? Have you always done things that bring you closer to people?
A: I managed horse shows... so, even the horses like me, I guess. (laughs)
I owned a retail store, and I helped other retailers. I’ve always been involved (in retail). You can buy the right product and have the right pricing, you can do visual merchandising, but if you don’t have customer service, you’ve got nothing.
It should be like a relationship. You get to know (the customer’s) name, you get to know something about them. And sometimes you just pick up on something, like maybe a cap they’re wearing, and you can say, “Oh, you’re an Argos fan? How’d you like their first game?” Or, maybe they have a health issue, (and you can ask) “How are you doing today?”
I always say, “How are you doing?” and I always say, “See you soon, take care.”
It should be a total shopping experience, it shouldn’t just be going into a store. You should enjoy arriving at that store and it’s a fun experience. That’s important.
Q: Do you find people in Collingwood are very receptive?
A: You’re always going to get people who are taken aback, no matter where you are. You take the bad with the good.
Sometimes people will say, “Did you have your coffee today?” or “Did you take your happy pills today?”
“Are you always like this?”
There’s no other way to be but happy, as far as I’m concerned. That’s how I am. That’s me being me. That’s why I'm embarrassed by compliments or newspaper interviews, because I'm just being me.
Growing up, it was not normal.
My mom had a mental illness. My dad, also. He walked out when I was three. I remember some physical abuse... my family weren’t nice people.
I got married. Low and behold, some of the people in the family were not nice people. I have a stepson who doesn’t like me... his wife says it’s because I'm happy and bubbly.
I guess unhappy people don’t like happy people. But, you can choose to be unhappy and bitter, or you can choose to be happy.
I actually wanted to be a comedian, because I wasn’t laughing a lot of days. I wanted to be able to make people feel good and make them laugh.
You never know when you meet someone, you just might make a difference. Maybe they’re having a bad day, like dealing with health issues. You don’t know what people are dealing with. You can maybe make a small difference in their life that day, or in that moment.
It’s nice to be able to just be myself.
This store has basically allowed me to do it my way.
Q: Why did you request the transfer to Wasaga Beach?
A: Tough, tough, tough decision. It made sense. My wife works here too... she’s usually here in the morning. Since we’re retired, we have one car now, and we live in Wasaga Beach. She works in the morning, and I work starting at noon... we drive back and forth daily. It’s about four hours of driving in a day. It doesn’t happen every day, but days when we both work. With the price of gas...whatever we’re making just goes to the gas station.
We live minutes from (the Wasaga Beach Walmart). We could walk there.
The customers that come in here are like family to me. The people who work here are like family. No matter where I go and what I do, there will always be a special place in my heart for the people that I meet. I will miss the staff. They say they’re going to visit me in Wasaga Beach. I’ve had customers say they’re going to visit me. A lot of them, because of the closeness, shop there too.
(Wasaga Beach) offered me full time, and I like being busy.
The more you work, the sharper you are. It’s not just smiling, greeting people, there’s the other part of the job I don’t enjoy, where you have to be sharp... there’s stuff that walks. If you’re not working very much, say, if you’re off for a week, sometimes they can just go flying by you out the door before you can even react.
You’re doing a lot of things (as a greeter). It’s like an athlete – the more you play, the sharper you are.
Q: Are there any ways you think you’ve made a difference here?
A: (Smiles) I hope I have.
I leave with a heavy heart.
It makes sense, but it’s a new challenge.
We should always try to be kind, respectful and nice to people, because life is too short. You could have an argument with someone, and something happens to you on the way home. You should always be trying to make things as good as you can.
For our new feature People of Collingwood, we’ll be speaking with interesting people who are either from or are contributing to the Collingwood community in some way. This feature will run on Collingwood Today every Saturday. If you’d like to nominate someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email email@example.com.