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The McKim’s One Day Meat Sale is one of the busiest days of the year for the small Mount Vernon grocery store, and long-time employee Rick Englebright can confirm that. He spent much of that Thursday running to the back, stocking shelves and helping customers find what they needed.
He was also stopped by customers who didn’t need anything from Englebright, except a moment of his time.
“A lot of people came in to thank and congratulate me,” he said. “It felt nice to know so many people remembered.”
That’s because April 13 not only served as a major event for McKim’s; it also marked Englebright’s 40th anniversary with the grocery store.
The hard-working Mount Vernon native began his career with the Main Street grocer in 1977, a time well before digital coupons and electronic inventory. Back then, the operation was still run by Harold Roberts, who hired Englebright as a bag boy when he was 16 years old.
But the grocery store wasn’t Engelbright’s first stab at making money. The loyal employee said he developed his work ethic from his grandfather, who maintained the grounds at Belle Fountain Cemetery.
“I would help him dig the ditches, straighten up the flowers, mow the grass, things like that,” he said. “My grandpa told me you get a $1 a day, so if you work 100 days, you’ll have $100. That mindset always stuck with me.”
Englebright held other small part-time jobs before he applied at the grocery store. Once Robinson hired him, though, Englebright quickly worked his way up. He was promoted to nighttime manager after a year and a half, and never looked back. He is now in charge of grocery, meats and dairy at the store.
“Robinson really encouraged me to work hard and do my best, and gave me a few incentives along the way,” he said.
The fast-paced grocery store was a perfect fit for Englebright, who said he enjoyed the “no two days are the same” atmosphere at his work place. It wasn’t a boring desk job, and gave him the freedom to move around, talk with people and lend a hand when it was needed.
Englebright has seen many changes during his four decades at the store. Some of the changes were difficult, like when Roberts passed away and a new owner took over. He’s also seen technology revolutionize the grocery industry with digital coupons, high tech cash registers and more. Each new chapter came with its own struggles and adjustments, but Englebright adapted and continued forward through all of them.
Outside the store, Englebright is a Harley Davidson enthusiast who likes to hop on his bike and cruise after a hard day at work. He has gone on long distance trips to places like Washington, D.C. with plans to visit Niagara Falls this summer. He also likes building, repairing and fixing things, and performs some carpentry work in his spare time.
Englebright said he wants to remain at McKim’s another decade or so. That will place him at a 50-year work anniversary, and qualify him for retirement. Until then, this Mount Vernon resident intends to do what he has always done – work hard.