Phyllis Norris: President of City Market worked her way to the top
You may not have noticed that watermelons now purchased at City Market are sold by size, not by weight. Asking checkers to heave the substantial fruits onto the scales is arduous work, especially over a course of a busy summer shift, according to the store’s president.
The head of the grocer’s 38 stores should know. In 1974, when Phyllis Norris started in the business as a checker, she would often go home sore from the lifting.
“I know what it’s like,” she said, explaining the reason for the change.
Not one employee at the store at the Rood Avenue City Market didn’t smile or greet Norris as she strolled the aisles recently.
Indeed, interacting with employees is one of her favorite parts of the job, which she does by traveling to the store’s far-flung locations from Shiprock, N.M., to Colorado’s Front Range.
Rising to the head of the company is something “never in 100 years did I think would happen,” she said. Norris started her career at a former location of a City Market on Fourth Street and Grand Avenue in Grand Junction. After a couple years as a checker, she was promoted to the sales floor, a first for the grocer. She was questioned by some about her ability to handle that job, and further questioned by male customers when she was promoted again to store manager.
“I know your store manager. I used to play football with him,” Norris said men would say, challenging her.
Norris said she was often surprised at being promoted, but she is appreciative that her company is cognizant of hiring women and minorities. City Market’s parent company, The Kroger Co., has two female presidents, Norris said.
Being a working mother meant having to make some sacrifices as she was raising her three children. While her employer was supportive if she had to attend to a sick child, she also always had a sitter for other times.
“You can’t always just walk away from the job,” she said. “I don’t know how women do it without some support.”
Norris said she was asked whether she would consider moving up again in the company, but she declined.
“I knew I could go even further,” she said. “I was born and raised in Grand Junction, and I love the bigger cities, too, but this is where I want to spend my time.”