Contestants were welcomed on stage with an almighty roar from the crowd frantically waving supporter signs, clanging and blowing noisemakers as they jumped around to booming music – but it wasn’t X-Factor, it was the Wellington heats of Foodstuffs’ Checker of the Year competition.
Around 80 supermarket check-out operators from New World, Pak ’n Save and Foursquare stores around the Wellington region competed for one of three spots in the regional final of the contest at St James' Theatre in Wellington city last night.
Checkers were ushered on stage four at a time and then asked to scan 30 items through makeshift supermarket counters while eight judges circled them, assessing them on speed, presentation, customer service and accuracy.
Petone Pak ’n Save checker Candace Kiernan, 18, said she had been nervous waiting for her turn, but as soon as she got on stage it all went away.
‘‘It’s exactly like being at work, and on checkout I’m just all about speed.’’
Kiernan only just made the contest – she is 34 weeks pregnant and has been in and out of hospital with dehydration issues. She’s on maternity leave and she only made it because her ‘‘awesome boss’’ asked her especially.
The crowds were asked to hush as the checkers scanned items through and dealt with the judges as though they were customers, and when all four contestants in the round were finished the barely sustained excitement from the crowd erupted again.
Karori New World's Laura Bishop was announced the winner of the Wellington round, with Olivia Keay, Island Bay New World, and Janiella Abelita, Miramar New World, also earning spots in the regional final.