For Geraldine Mead, arriving for work at the Bayside Mall branch of Cape Union Mart is really like coming home. Having called Cape Union Mart home for the past fifty years, every store, staff member and most of the stock items in the store carry a memory for “Mama” or “Aunty” as she is affectionately known.
In 1961, Geraldine started her career at the well-known Cape Union Mart store on the corner of Corporation and Mostert Streets at the age of 19. Armed with not much more than a healthy zest for life and a passion to serve, Geraldine never imagined her tenure would become such an important part of her life, or milestone for the company. It didn’t take her long to make her mark on the store, impressing colleagues and customers alike with her product knowledge and approachable smile, and today she’s still greeting customers and asking about their travels as she works her magic from the company’s branch in Bayside.
When asked what she still finds challenging about working in the store after 50 years, Geraldine comments that matching a sale to a customer’s needs is always really tricky. “I’ve always known that the best way to make a sale is to understand what the customer wants and needs, and what they intend using the product for, before suggesting anything to them”, comments Mead, who at 69 doesn’t look much older than 55.
“Building long-lasting relationships with customers is one of her great strengths” notes Evan Torrance, head of Group Services for Cape Union Mart. “Honesty in selling is very important to Geraldine (and to all of our staff) and her dedication to providing just the right equipment and footwear and apparel to customers to suit their requirements is what’s made her so fantastic at her job for so long. She’s been known to take suppliers to task on occasion for not offering the right products and many customers still ask for her by name. Some are even known to have followed her as she has transferred between the various Cape Town branches over the years”, he concludes.
When asked what she enjoys most about working at Cape Union Mart, given her 50 years of dedicated service, she says that her love of people, the store’s atmosphere, the great staff and colleagues are all elements that have contributed to her long and happy tenure with the company. Not surprisingly, Geraldine associates Cape Union Mart with all the major milestones of her adult life – her 21st birthday, meeting her husband in a store, her wedding and the arrival of her daughter and grandchildren were all planned and celebrated with her Cape Union Mart family.
Geraldine’s plan for the future is simply to grow old gracefully. She strives to do her best every day and to be pleasant to everyone she encounters. And in terms of giving back to others, the advice that she passes onto the younger staff she encounters is to always be honest and to give 100% of your effort every single day. “When people ask why I have stayed at Cape Union Mart for so long I tell them that I have enjoyed every minute of my career and I simply cannot imagine being anywhere else” concludes Mead, as she dashes off to serve yet another customer.
Cape Union Mart
021 464 5800