That’s probably the best way to describe how Cleveland Walmart employees and customers feel about Junior Evans.
It’s an appropriate analogy because the shoe department is where he began working in the store 40 years ago, and he’s been with the retail chain ever since.
It is a career that started at the age of 19.
His co-workers celebrated his achievement with cake, punch, giggles and tributes Wednesday morning as the normal staff meeting was not totally normal.
It was a salute to Junior.
“We appreciate you for all that you do,” said Walmart personnel manager Roger Munson. “You have helped everyone out, and if anyone does need help, you’re always there.”
Munson began the “shoe” connections by saying there was one thing Evans would never be able to get away from.
“That’s the shoe department,” Munson said, bringing laughter from the Walmart associates gathered for the occasion.
“I’ve helped open two stores and Junior helped with both. I really appreciate him a lot,” he said.
Walmart co-manager Bill Bellendorf also gave some remarks and made special presentations to the honoree.
“In 1974, he began working for Big K and Walmart. He was working in shoes,” Bellendorf said. “He’s now been in the claims department for five years and has only worked in two Walmarts — Athens and Cleveland.”
Evans was given a plant, a personalized shirt recognizing the achievement and a plaque.
“He has a friendly attitude and has always been helpful when I’ve had issues,” one of his co-workers said in tribute.
Evans said it’s the people who have kept him coming back to work throughout the years.
“I enjoy working with people,” Evans said. “If it wasn’t for that, I’da left a long time ago.”
He said working in retail at his store has changed like the rest of the industry.
“As with any company, it’s gotten bigger,” he said.
Evans said some of the biggest changes have come within himself.
“I’ve grown a lot in 40 years,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. I just enjoy being with people.”
“When I worked on the sales floor, I had customers who would come in every week just to say ‘Hi,” Evans said. “That makes you feel good. There were customers who would come into another store and see me and say, ‘You’re in the wrong place.’ That makes you feel good, because they recognize you and it makes you think they are coming back just to say hello.”
He said he has made a lot of friends and the job never gets boring.
“You never run out of something to do,” Evans said.
When he’s not in the store he enjoys the company of his family, including three daughters and four grandchildren.
“I didn’t have those when I started,” he said with a laugh.
“We like to go camping and stay at the river and just try to enjoy life,” Evans said.
How much longer will he be wearing that Walmart badge?
“Probably another 10 years at least,” Evans says with a chuckle. “Can’t quite afford to quit yet.”