Moore retires from Ramey Supermarket after 44-year career
Long-time meat wrapper grew up in meat industry
A familiar face, friendly smile and helping hand at the local Ramey Supermarket, meat wrapper Joyce Moore, has been wrapping meat and helping customers at the Cassville store since 1971.
On Saturday, she retired after 44 years of working for the company.
"I started in August 1971 with Red's Supermarkets," Moore said. "My dad was the meat manager for Red's, and they asked me if I would work for them until they found somebody, and I guess they're still looking. Roswel Inc. (now Ramey) took over in 1972."
For 44 years, Moore has been wrapping and labeling meats, stocking meats and cheeses, and helping customers choose the right meat for a meal. Some of the most common questions she's heard through the years include: what is the fat content of the hamburger? What is the best roast for a crock pot meal?
"I work in the back where everything is pre-packaged," Moore said. "When I first started, it was hanging beef, which meant it came in halves and quarters, whereas now it comes in boxes."
Along with her dad, her two brothers Larry and Gary also worked with meat.
"My brother Larry worked here, and my brother Gary, they were meat cutters," she said. "So, it's a family thing. My dad had the slaughter house before that on the north end of town, so we just grew up in the meat business."
Before taking the job at Ramey, Moore worked at a couple of local drive-ins. She originally planned to go into the Army, but 44 years later, is still at Ramey.
"I was going to join the Army and my dad asked me to help until he found someone," she said. "I had just graduated high school in 1971, the May before."
Being with one employer 44 years is rare, but for Moore, it has just worked.
"I've always liked it," she said. "It's not a repetitive job, you're doing something different all the time and you interact with customers. I guess being a people person, I don't find that many people I don't like. I can't think of anything I don't like about my job. I guess that's why I've done it so long."
Moore said she thought about changing jobs when she got married in 1979, but decided to stay. What she's enjoyed most is interacting with customers and their children.
"I'm going to miss people the most, and the kids," she said. "Kids are so funny. I've always helped customers in open meat markets where the customer sees you and you see the customers. That's when the meat case was short and customers could see what we were doing."
Moore remembers how fascinated children were with the machine that put labels on meats, watching the little levers move back and forth, and the funny things they would say. One comment was especially memorable.
"A little boy was shopping with his mother one day, and I went out the door of the meat shop and he said, 'Mom, she got out,'" Moore said.
Being a woman in the meat business is not typical, but neither is Moore, having managed to work for one employer and one industry for 44 years.
"I've only worked with meat-cutting women once," she said. "I know we've had two or three in the area."
In a world where most jobs do not last even half as long, Moore has collected wisdom and a few lessons to share.
"I think people give up on heir jobs too soon," she said. "They don't give their jobs a chance. Think on things before you just walk out. There are times you're discontented but you just go on. As my dad would say, deal with it. "
When life takes a new turn for Moore, it will be time to hand the baton to someone else, but many will miss her friendly, familiar presence.
"She's a good gal," said Meat Cutter Stan Kahre, who's worked with Moore at Ramey since 1997.
Bookeeper Mary Lyall, a friend and coworker who has worked at Ramey 43 years, recalls how she got hired.
"I was hired because I kept going in to visit Joyce," she said. "I started out as a checker and am now the bookkeeper. I will miss her sense of humor and quick wit. It will be hard to imagine her not being here."
Many customers will have to adjust, too.
"She has a lot of loyal customers," Lyall said. "When they need anything they go hunt her up, and for the grocery side, too. She can tell you where anything is. After 40 years I think she pretty well knows the store."
Upon retiring, Moore plans to spend time with her grandsons and do some volunteering at the Veteran's Home in Mt. Vernon.
Ramey Manager Kevin George is not sure how they will ever replace Moore.
"I don't think you replace an employee like that," he said. "We'll have to start from scratch. I've worked with Joyce for six years and just the fact that she had a 44-year career with us is amazing," he said. "Her customer service is unbelievable. I'm certain she knows everyone in the Cassville area, and she's always gone above and beyond to make sure customers felt welcome and enjoyed their shopping experience with us. She is going to be missed."