For the fourth time in Washington's Best Bagger Competition history, a Metropolitan Market employee took home the big win.
Talia Randle, who bags groceries at Magnolia's Metropolitan Market, out bagged eight other competitors to take home the state title, a $2,000 prize, and an all-expense paid trip to the national competition in Las Vegas next February. Randle says her success didn't come without some preparation.
"In my store, we set up a room downstairs with a table and a bunch of items and I would just go in there and bag," said Randle.
Each contestant was judged not only on how fast they bagged groceries, but also on how well the weight was distributed between the bags, the order items were placed in the bags, in addition to their their overall style, attitude, and appearance. There were two phases of competition -- one using paper bags and the other using reusable bags. Audience members cheered, rang cowbells and waved signs of support as contestants quickly filled their bags with an array of grocery items.
Last year's state winner, Candice Lastimado, who represented Metropolitan Market in West Seattle, went on to win the National Title. Metropolitan Market Employees also took the state title in 2012 and 2011, and another national title in 2013. Randle says the Metropolitan Market legacy did make her feel like she had big shoes to fill.
"It was a lot of pressure at first," laughed Randle. "But I'm feeling really good now, and I'm excited to keep going and see where this takes me."
The event is sponsored by the Washington Food Industry Association. Talia now has a chance at a $10,000 price at the National Best Bagger Competition. She says she plans to save her current winnings and any future winnings to help pay for college.