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The ties that bind: Family connections make job special

 

Sandra Hall signs a check for a customer at Sunflower Friday afternoon. Hall has been with the company for 20 years.

Sandra Hall signs a check for a customer at Sunflower Friday afternoon. Hall has been with the company for 20 years. Photo by: Zach Odom/Dispatch Staff

 

Nathan Gregory

 

Between the long-time customers she sees every day and her employees, Sandra Hall likens working at the Sunflower on Alabama Street to being with family.  

 

The family element doesn't stop there. Hall is a second-generation employee of Steve and Clint Townsend, who own both the Alabama Street location and the Military Road store. Hall's mother, Maxine Mason, worked at the Military Road location for 40 years and hired her daughter 20 years ago to work in the meat department.  

 

Hall's first supervisor at the store would eventually become her husband. Eddie Hall has been the market manager at the Military Road store for 23 years.  

 

Sandra left the Military Road store for the Alabama Street location in 1997, where she became an assistant manager. She's been there ever since. 

 

"They didn't want to have us both in the same store being managers," Hall said, "so I transferred here." 

 

Hall is now an office manager, which involves customer service, payroll, deposits and the day-to-day paperwork that goes with running a business.  

 

She admits she didn't foresee still being with the company for such a long time. 

 

"The Townsends are very good to work for," she said. "That's probably what's kept me here. They're good to their employees and take care of them, and I enjoy the customers." 

 

Hall said she and other long-time employees "could write a book" about the experiences they've had since they've been with Sunflower. She was hesitant to elaborate on some of them, but said that book would mostly be about the regular customers, some of which had been shopping at the Alabama Street store before Hall was on board.  

 

There's no secret to how she usually has a smile on her face, she said.  

 

"I think enjoying your job keeps you with a positive attitude," Hall said. "Working for people you know and that are good to you and knowing that you're appreciated, that keeps me positive. It feels like a family here. When you feel like you're working for a family, you want to be your best." 

 

Hall added that she, like her mother, could see herself retiring there. 

 

"As long as they'll have me, I'll be here," she said. "I don't even think about leaving."

 

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.

 

 

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