Jim Peebles watched Tuesday afternoon while Vanessa Thompson bagged some freshly cooked fish for him to take home for supper.
“I guess I would have had to have starved to death if y’all weren’t open,” Peebles joked.
Thompson and Lynn Hays were working the afternoon Christmas shift at the Quik Mart at Woodward Avenue and Second Street in Muscle Shoals.
The clerks said work isn’t the ideal place to be on Christmas, but it fulfills a need.
“Somebody has to do it,” Thompson said. “Pretty much nobody else who serves food is open.”
Customer Ricky Winborn appreciated that they were open.
“There’s very few out there that are today,” he said.
The vast majority of people are off on Christmas but hospitals workers, emergency responders and various other fields require someone to be there every day.
Peebles was able to relate to working on Christmas. A locksmith, he was called from his house to unlock someone’s car door earlier that day.
The Quik Mart employees said working on Christmas isn’t as bad as it sounds.
Thompson said the management works hard to arrange schedules around times when employees’ families get together. Thompson’s shift ended at 5 p.m., in time for an evening family gathering.
In addition, they have short shifts on Christmas, Hays said.
“It’s nice they split it up so nobody has to work more than four hours,” said Hays, who was off for her family gathering Christmas Eve.
A steady stream of customers came in buying a variety of items.
“Oh my goodness, it’s been busy since I arrived at 1 o’clock,” Hays said.
Many customers come in asking for dinner items that obviously had been overlooked at their family get-together.
“I’ll bet I could have sold six packs of rolls today if we’d had them,” Hays said. “People also have been coming in, buying 16 to 18 pieces of chicken.”
Cranberries also were a popular request. They didn’t have them at the store, but Thompson suggested customers try Walgreens because it was open. After all, that’s where Thompson planned to go for cranberries after work.
“I hope I don’t cause Walgreens to sell out of them by the time I get there,” she said.
Jonathan Edwards, owner of Edwards Oil, which operates the Quik Marts among 39 Shell stores in north Alabama and southern Tennessee, said being open on Christmas is part of his company’s objective of always being available to the customer.
“We take pride in the fact that we’re open 24 hours a day to serve all of our customers and their needs,” Edwards said.
At Quik Mart on Florence Boulevard in Florence, Penny Hickman said, the delicatessen items were popular on Christmas.
“Everybody’s wanting food,” Hickman said.
She was surprised that only one customer asked for batteries, which often are in heavy demand to place in freshly opened Christmas gifts.
Hickman said she worked Christmas Eve and into Christmas morning until about 3 a.m. She said it was easy to tell when Wal-Mart closed.
“We got popped with all kinds of customers right after that,” she said. “From what everyone was saying, Krystal did, too.”
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.