Our popular colleague Janet Oakley started working at Asda Beckton as a Christmas temp ... and 26 years later she's still there, putting smiles on customers' faces with her friendly service at the checkouts.
She loved the job so much that she’s never left, apart from when the 55 year-old mum and grandma took a short break to bring up her two children.
A familiar face in the store, she’s loved by regular customers who make a beeline for her till as she’s always there to greet them with a smile.
She said: “I came as a Christmas temp but never left because it’s the people you work with in the store that make it, so you want to come to work.
“A lot of things have changed here, but for the better. When I first came you had to type everything into the tills – now we have Scan and Go!”
In the quarter-of-a-century she’s been at the store, Janet says she hasn’t seen anything like the refurbishment that’s just taken place.
She said: “I thought I had walked into Lakeside when I saw the changes made to George clothing and that area of the store. You can get nearly everything you want here.”
Although she’s worked in all areas of the store Janet loves being behind the tills and interacting with customers most, providing a friendly and reassuring face throughout the pandemic.
She said: “Every day is different, but there are so many customers you see every day that you recognise and say hello to. When you come into the store it’s like a family. You recognise people and you care about them and your colleagues.”
“I used to have a sing-song and a dance behind the till – but only before the store opened! I love music and singing and dancing. I haven’t got a good voice, but I enjoy it.” Janet says her secret to staying young and keeping her spirits and her energy up is spending time with her grandson.
"But it isn’t just Janet who's now a grandma, many of her customers are too. She said: “I used to see people come into the store with children of a similar age to my children. Now those children come to my till and bring their children. I’ve seen whole families grow up.”
She says the camaraderie in the store throughout the pandemic was like nothing she had experienced in her 26 years at the store, with regular customer coming up to say “thank you” to colleagues for all of their hard work as keyworkers.
“When someone first came up and told me to ‘keep up what you’re doing’ and said ‘thank you’ it was just so nice. I’ve been here for so long everyone feels like they know me personally – customers start talking to me and they just don’t want me to walk away.”