Coworkers, customers honor beloved cashier

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Instead of groceries and clothes rolling through the “Match Lady’s” register, a “lane closed” sign stood at the end of Register 12 on Tuesday at Walmart in Belen.

More than 40 Walmart employees, some off the clock, gathered Tuesday afternoon for a memorial ceremony in honor of Berna Chavez, a cashier who worked at Walmart for more than four years. Chavez died Monday.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: Walmart employees gathered Tuesday for a memorial ceremony in honor of one of their own, Berna Chavez, a cashier for more than four years. Chavez’s register was closed Tuesday and covered by colorful roses and white poster boards with messages from Chavez’s customers, friends and coworkers.

About 25 white, purple and black balloons were released by employees at the store’s entrance. Each balloon was covered with handwritten messages to Chavez from her coworkers.

“We wrote messages so we could send them to her,” said Sara Gabaldon, customer service manager at Walmart, before tears began streaking her cheeks.

Chavez, a favorite among customers, was known as “The Match Lady,” because she knew competitor’s sale prices for most items, which she matched.

“Everybody knew her by her ads,” said Maggie Carbajal, zone supervisor. “She always knew her prices.”

The 59-year-old’s register was draped with competitor advertisements and dozens of pink, yellow and white roses, one from each co-worker. Three, large white poster boards hung from the sides of the conveyor belt with goodbye messages from Chavez’s customers, friends and coworkers.

Customers would wait in line, no matter how long they had to wait, to have Chavez check them out, Gabaldon said.

Employees would try to redirect customers to open lanes, but they insisted on waiting for Chavez, Carbajal said.

Some customers would even plan their shopping trips on days they knew Chavez was working, Gabaldon said.

“She always greeted customers with a smile,” Gabaldon said. “She’s going to be very missed by us all.”

And Chavez loved her customers as much as they loved her, said her husband, Nathan.

“She always had a smile on her face when she came home from work,” he said.

Coworkers described Chavez as a lovable lady, the sweetest person, a mentor, a best friend and a great cashier.

Cashier Kimberly Woznick said words can’t describe Chavez’s wonderful personality.

“You can’t put (her) into words,” said Sara Berniger, customer service manager. “Words just don’t do her justice.”


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.