Kenny Olson in the bakery department where he worked for the past two years. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)

Kenny Olson in the bakery department where he worked for the past two years. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)

Community bids adieu to Kenny Olson

Retirement beckons after 40 years with Overwaitea/Save-On Foods

What started as a gig right after high school in 1981, has gone on for four decades for Kenny Olson and he has finally said adieu to Overwaitea/Save-On Foods.

Last week, Olson retired from the store after working for “40 years and change”.

“I started when I was just 15 years old. At that time, it used to be the best paying job in town. When I started here we made more than a lot graduates I knew then,” he said.

Olson also got to experience a variety of things from seeing deer wander through the store every once in a while to witnessing the changeover of Overwaitea to Save On Foods overnight.

On March 8, 2018 Overwaitea Foods was re-branded as Save-On Foods.

“We closed early at 6 p.m. and overnight had to change all the signs inside the store from Overwaitea to Save-On Foods. It was quite the transformation to go through in a single night,” he said.

Olson also witnessed the 2006 winter storm that snowed-in the entire village for a few days. The roads were filled with snow to the brim and it was impossible to drive and so, Olson drove form his house in a snowmobile to get to the store. When he reached the store, the hospital called and requested groceries as they were trying to feed patients and people but had no groceries any more.

“I got on my snowmobile and made several trips to the hospital with grocery for them. It was quite an experience,” Olson reminisced.

Over the years, Olson met a lot of people not just from the village but tourists and travellers stopping by from all over the world. He reminisced over some such visitors who became regulars over the years and even stopped by and spoke with Olson. Making such connections from a grocery store, might seem impossible but Olson had made it happen, probably also because of his ever-helpful and enthusiastic nature as described by his colleagues.

One of his colleagues at the store, Gord, who is in charge of the meat department said, “I have been in Burns Lake for 20 years and I have worked with him the whole time.” When asked what it had been like working with him, Gord promptly said, “I wish he was the boss here; it was always such a breeze to work with him.”

“It has been my pleasure and I will miss the guy.”

This sentiment was echoed by Olson’s colleagues and several even posted on his social media bidding him adieu. Comments ranged from expressing how great it had been to work with him to some expressing how they wished they got to spend more time with him.

“It was an opportunity to work with a lot of good people. You get to meet so many people. I have made amazing friends here. It was a fun gig and I will miss everyone here,” he said.

Olson has worked in all the departments throughout the store except the meat department. Over that last couple of years he had been in the bakery department and helped unloading trucks.

Over the years, Olson has done volunteering through the store’s initiatives for example, for the children’s hospital. It was however hard for him to do anything beyond the working hours.

“Being here, it is hard to volunteer outside or be part of clubs so I couldn’t join any of them,” he said but he definitely plans to get more active on that front.

He is also very excited about the next chapter of his life and said that he “can’t wait!”

Olson, who was born and brought up in Burns Lake, will be moving to Prince George. So what’s next for him?

“I totally enjoy the outdoors, I do a lot of camping, fishing, hunting, travelling. I have been to Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica. And now I will do more of hunting, fishing and spending time with my grandkids,” he said. Olson has two grandkids, one is three, one is two months and another one is going to be born in November.

Olson’s last day at the store was on April 29 and while it wasn’t said, it was obvious that the sentiment echoed by Gord was felt by others in the store.

“World needs more people like Kenny,” said Gord.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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