February 21, 2012

Our Neighbors: Being friendly pays off

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Her bright smile and friendly attitude fits in perfectly at a small community store that boasts many regular customers who are addressed by their first names.

After six years as a cashier at Pine Top Market, Genia Hardin is known for both her efficiency and her friendliness to those who regularly frequent the store along Russell Dyche Memorial Highway (Ky. 80), just two miles west of London city limits.

Though close in proximity to the city, Pine Top Market, despite its modern facilities, has the small-town neighborhood store atmosphere often diminished with larger chain stores that designate larger towns. While they supply gas and grocery items like most smaller stores in the area, Pine Top Market also supplies freshly prepared sandwiches and breakfast foods along with deli meat and cheese that bring customers inside from open to close.

Along with the food comes the familiarity with the customers, which is what Hardin describes as her favorite part of the job.

“I’ve always been friendly and I enjoy talking to the customers,” she said. “And I’ve got good bosses.”

Pine Top Market, owned by Roy Morgan and overseen by his daughter, Janine, offers a small table and a couple of stools where customers can come and sit for awhile, meet up with friends, and have a snack or good conversation.

For Hardin, those regular customers make her job even more enjoyable as well as meeting new people who visit.

“I meet new people everyday and I like that,” she said, “but we have a lot of regulars that I enjoy talking with.”

Her job allows her that opportunity, working the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift on Tuesday and Saturday and the evening shift from 2 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.  

“I get to see people on both shifts,” she added.

When she isn’t working, Hardin enjoys being with her 1-year-old son Aden and 3-year-old son Caleb. Part of that duty involves going with their father, Shaun Roark, to Chuck E. Cheese, Gatti’s Pizza and other places where the children can enjoy the games and food.

“My 3 year old loves Chuck E. Cheese,” she said.

Family is big for Hardin, who has an interesting life story. She was only 15 1/2 when her mother died, then she was completely orphaned when her father died just two months after her 16th birthday. Placed in various foster homes after that, she was adopted just before her 18th birthday, gaining a new family along with her two other sisters.

“I have a sister who lives in London and another sister who lives in Pikeville,” she said. “I was adopted by Georgena McClenney, who now lives in Georgetown. From that family, I have a sister that lives in London and two brothers who live in Berea.”

When she is at work, however, her focus is on the customers and doing a good job. Though mostly serving as a cashier, Hardin also trains new employees on her shifts and pitches in with the cleaning, stocking, cooking, selling and checking lottery tickets and other duties required of employees to keep the store clean and efficient.

In addition to the in-store customers, Pine Top Market also has a drive-through window. Even when business is booming between the counter and the drive-thru, Hardin maintains her composure and keeps the friendly greetings coming.

“You need two Red Man Gold Tops?” she responds to a drive-thru customer.

Retrieving the correct items, she hands them over with her standard smile. “Have a good night.”

 Beginning her seventh year at the store, Hardin said she has no plans on leaving because she likes her job and the people who frequent the business.

“I just like what I do here,” she said.