When it comes to bagging groceries, Super 1 Foods (part of Rosauers Inc.) courtesy clerk David Tochinskiy has his own unique—and eminently effective—game plan. That game plan served the teenager well on Oct. 22 when he won the Washington Food Industry Association’s “Best Bagger” state championship at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park in Spokane.
The Best Bagger Contest is an annual event that invites contestants representing grocery stores from across the state to compete for the coveted title of Best Bagger. The state finals gather Washington’s top grocery baggers who have qualified to compete after multi-round competitions within their own stores among fellow employees.
The Evans teenager has handled his newfound fame and title with grace and aplomb.
“It was nice,” one of the youngest competitors (age 17) said of his big win last week in front of both cameras and timers. “It’s a huge accomplishment and I will try to train as much as possible for nation¬als.”
Headed to Vegas
Tochinskiy beat first runner-up Isaac Rushing of Metropolitan Market in West Seattle and third place winner Carl Bell of QFC of Mercer Island.
As the statewide winner of the competition, Tochinskiy will compete in the National Best Bagger competition in Las Vegas in February. For his skills bagging groceries, To¬chinskiy won $1,500 last week and the all expenses paid trip to the gambling mecca of the United States.
The low-key, polite Tochinskiy, who says he plans to take his sister, Anna, with him to Las Vegas, isn’t bragging when he looks you in the eye and says he has a chance to win in Las Vegas. No, not at the ta¬bles or the slots—he’s too young. In grocery bagging, it’s all about technique and the plan.
“I think I have a shot at it,” the lanky, 6-4 bagger with the serious groceries’ reach says. “It’s going to be fun.”
This year, Washington brought home the National title when Andrew Borracchini of Metropolitan Markets in Seattle won the championship and the $10,000 prize that went with it.
Tochinskiy, a senior at Colville High School who plays on the Indians’ basketball team, would like nothing better than to bring back the national championship to Super 1 and the Colville Valley.
In the competition, each grocery store bagger is graded on speed, technique, weight distribution, attitude and appearance.
Super 1 Foods Manager Brad Barbour knows that Tochinskiy, who has worked at the store for about a year, is very deserving of his statewide honor.
“David is a great employee who really works at it,” Barbour said. “He definitely knows how to build a bag. He’s very calm…fast…and he knows how to build the bag correctly. It probably doesn’t hurt any either that he is 6-foot-4.”
No, with this affable teen, you won’t find eggs and bread in the bottom of a customer’s bag.
Barbour said Tochinskiy is the first east side winner of the contest since 2009. Last week’s state championship in Spokane also marked the first time the competition has been held on the east side in several years.
David, who had two sisters from a large family work at Super 1 before he was hired, loves to play basketball, golf and fish, admits that bagging groceries “is not really a sport,” but there’s as lot to it in terms of technique and following a few hard and fast rules of the bagging game.
There are no shortcuts. Practice makes for state champions.
“I think a lot of this has to do with the practice,” says the self-ascribed perfectionist. “Weight distribution is the big thing. I was able to win because of my speed and I had my weight distribution right on.”
You also won’t find any glass touching each other—or on the sides of the bags.
“You don’t want the glass to break,” David, who practices his bagging techniques at home and at the recently remodeled Super 1 store when he isn’t on the floor, says matter-of-factly. “We get a rubric on how to do it, but I have tweaked that. I think my tech¬nique works pretty well.”
One judge in the state contest told Tochinsikiy that he had never seen bags so well organized.