“I was always hanging out at the Co-op and I needed a new job.” And that’s how the magic happened. The Moscow Food Co-op snatched up Rachael Guenthner as a dishwasher (2015-2017) and now as the Grocery Buyer (May 2017-current). During that time, she has earned two degrees—undergraduate degrees in both English Literature and History (’15) and a master’s degree in Literature (’17). In fact, it feels a little surreal for her not to be buying her special pen, the medium z-grip zebra pen that she purchased to kick off the start of each semester. “I felt like I spent my whole life in school—from high school to ungrad to grad. It’s nice to be working a job that engages people that’s also a break from school and teaching.”
Now, I realize that the title Grocery Buyer may sound self-explanatory, but it’s a job with a lot of moving parts. This position does two important things: maintains an accurate inventory of all grocery products (minus Health & Beauty, bulk, produce and meat) and then orders all that is needed. Products are ordered approximately three times per week. There are over 10,000 products on the Moscow Food Co-op shelves. Rachael is ordering between $20,000- $45,000 worth of stock each week. This seems like a big job (that’s me stating the obvious to Rachael). “Yes, but it’s manageable,” Rachael says. “There’s a lot of support. It is a big undertaking for the size store that we are and it shows how important it is to us to provide great selection and really think about what our owners and customers want from a grocery store.” One of the perks of the job? Exploring Co-op products. Rachael has discovered (and personally tested) a variety of different products, from the volcanic salt (from Hawaii) to the tamarind paste (originating from tropical Africa and India).
Disney World is one of Rachael’s favorite places. Although it may only rival Ikea as the capitalist American consumerism dream, it is wrapped in nostalgia and positivity. “You just surrender yourself to fun.” She recently went with her sister, fulfilling a childhood pact where they promised to never go to Disney World without the other sister. She already has plans to go to the happiest place on Earth next summer with her partner (for the opening of Star War Land!) and admits that she and her sister will likely go again together. While they were there, they took pictures with all the characters and waited in line to see Sleeping Beauty, Rachael’s personal favorite. She also admits that her partner’s arms are her other favorite place. And I think these two are not mutually exclusive. Here’s to dreams coming true in 2018!
In her spare time, Rachael says she’s a “basic geek” – enjoying video games, reading and writing.
Her favorite Co-op food: The cinnamon rolls and specialty cheeses, especially the local goat cheese. Enough said.
Advice She Would Give to Her 13-Year-Old-Self That Would Have Solved A Lot of Mysteries for Her: “You’re a lesbian.”
Follow-up Advice: “Have absolute confidence in yourself. You’re awesome. People will figure it out.”
Last Piece of Advice (that probably would be problematic for her high school prom queen self): “You should never wear dresses again.”
Favorite Books (pretty much has to be plural when you’re asking an English Lit grad):
Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich (poetry).
The Hermaphrodite by Julia Ward Howe (fiction). An interesting backstory: Howe, famous for writing The Battle Hymn of the Republic, wrote this novel in the 1840’s about an intersex individual raised as male and has been praised for providing valuable insights into 19th century sexuality. Gary Williams, one of our local University of Idaho professors, discovered Howe’s manuscript at Harvard and published an edition in 2004.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. (Science fiction beach read—and soon(ish) to be made into a movie directed by Steven Spielberg!)
Stand out song: Witchy Woman by The Eagles
Superpower: Super strength. (But her hugs are her real super power!)