||Last Updated: Oct 10, 2012 - 9:31:20 AM
It’s easy to see that Norma Rivers is hooked on her job as a seafood specialist at the Daniel Island Publix. If her colorful fish-shaped earrings and broad smile don’t lure you in, her knowledge and expertise surely will.
“My job here is extremely important to me,” she said, her earrings bobbing back and forth as she moved behind the counter. “I love this area and I love what I do!”
Rivers, who lives off Clements Ferry Road, just celebrated her tenth anniversary at the store – and it is clear that good customer service is her top priority. She typically works from 7 am to 4 pm about five days a week. Her first order of business when she arrives in the morning is to prepare the three display cases at the seafood counter.
“I want my cases to always look eye-appealing,” she said, pointing down to a neatly arranged array of shellfish on ice. “I get fussy about that…My customers, they like what they see. It’s looking nice and fresh and I feel like that’s an important part (of what I do), because it keeps the customers coming back. They get top quality.”
Rivers, 47, started out in the Publix Deli Department in 2002, but moved into seafood about four years later. Before joining the super market staff, she worked as an assisted living caregiver. She continues to enjoy helping seniors through her work at Publix.
“Give me Wednesday!” exclaimed Rivers. “I always want to be scheduled for Wednesdays. It’s Senior Citizen Day and we’ve got each other spoiled! I have four who come in in the morning looking for me. It’s just awesome and it makes me feel good!”
When it comes to knowing how to prepare seafood, the tastiest seasonings to add, and the most suitable fish options for children, there are certainly oceans of possibilities to consider. Rivers has a suggestion for each and every seafood question that comes her way. She can even steam seafood for customers right in the store. Best fish for grilling? She highly recommends salmon.
“When you grill it, keep the skin on,” she suggested. “Because that skin pushes all the flavor into the fish.”
For baking? Try the stuffed tilapia or the pinwheel salmon. Another tip from Rivers…be sure to spray the fish with non-stick cooking spray instead of covering. When it comes to cooked options, Rivers said her extra large shrimp and snow crab legs are her best sellers. For children, who often can be a bit finicky about seafood, tilapia is an excellent choice, she added.
“It’s easy to prepare. You could pretty much take it and season it at your choice, put it in aluminum foil, wrap it up and put it in the oven. Give it about 25 to 30 minutes and you’re ready to go. For children, that’s awesome!”
Rivers knows a thing or two about finding palatable choices for kids. The single parent has raised three children mostly on her own. She has two daughters in the military and a son in 5th grade at Daniel Island School. Her strong Christian faith has been a motivating force throughout her life.
“I’m a strong believer,” she said. “I’ve been very blessed.”
She hopes to extend the same good fortune to her customers, by always offering her trademark “God Bless” when she hands them their carefully wrapped seafood packages.
“Being here and working for Publix, it’s going to be my place of retirement,” added Rivers. “I love it here. I really enjoy my customers, and I learn their names and faces…My customers are the best and most important part of my job.”