July 1, 2013 9:33:21 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
Walking into Shipley Donuts in Columbus, customers are greeted by two things: the overwhelming smell of sweet, sugary doughnuts and the beaming smile of Kay Jones.
Jones, 51, has worked at Shipley's for the last three years and says she strives to make each customer feel at home.
"I want them to feel at home, I do," she says.
Although born in Columbus, Jones is a self-described Air Force brat who grew up in Fayetteville, N.C. She moved back to the area in her late teens to be closer to her grandparents in Hamilton. Shortly after arriving, she met her husband, Greg, at local summer hang out, the Slip N' Dip.
"Me and my cousin went swimming up there one day and that's where we met -- at the Slip N' Dip," she says.
Thirty years after their first meeting, Jones still blushes when she talks about her husband.
The couple has two daughters and five grandchildren.
The Jones have moved several times since their first meeting, but the call of home keeps luring them back.
The couple first moved to Canton to work on the assembly line at the Nissan plant. When Kay's identical twin sister, Sheila, became ill with multiple sclerosis, the couple turned in their notices at the plant and moved to West Virginia to be by her side. When the two couldn't find work, they moved back to Columbus to be near her husband's family.
They've been back in Columbus for several years and Jones says she has loved every minute of it.
She has only worked at Shipley for three years but the joy she exudes is obvious as she engages customers in small talk while deftly filling orders.
"I never even put in an application," Jones says of her job. "I just came in for an interview and I was hired."
Although she isn't involved in the doughnut-making process, she is as key to the operation as the iconic doughnut holes the store sells by the dozen. She is quick to laugh and makes a point to ask each customer how his or her day is going.
"I have regular customers who come in every day," Jones says. "They come in and get the same thing over and over and over so I get the same thing for them since I already know what they want before they even ask for it. That's the kind of customers I have."
She not only knows her customers, she had already computed the costs for orders, right down to the tax.
In a gray t-shirt and her long, wavy brown hair secured in a ponytail under a Mississippi State hat, Jones has a relaxing ease about her that instantly makes customers feel like they're talking with an old friend.
Just then, the bell chimes on the door and another customer walks in and asks for two dozen donuts. As Jones engages him in small talk, he decides to add to his order -- the last two remaining bags of donut holes. As Jones rings up his order, a knowing smile flashes across her lips. "Come again!" she says cheerily.
He undoubtedly will. Both the smell of the doughnuts and the sweetness of Jones' personality make the doughnut shop almost irresistible.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.