Brigitte Schalch at the Migros checkout

Migros employee

What is it like to have worked at Migros all your life?

Brigitte Schalch had her first day at work over 48 years ago – and now it's her last. Why she always stayed and how often she asked: "Have you got Cumulus?".

Lisa Stutz

Does she remember her first day? Of course. She hung up bananas. It was 1 April 1975 when Brigitte Schalch had her first day of work at the Migros store in Bremgarten AG. Vegetable section. She was 15 years old and took up a permanent position, not an apprenticeship. After leaving school, she had taken a domestic apprenticeship that involved cleaning, cooking and doing the laundry for a family, before being offered the job at Migros.

Full-time, 350 francs a month. Selling has always fascinated her, says Brigitte Schalch. "My mother told me that even as a child I was interested in what the cashiers were doing when we went shopping." After two years in the vegetable section, in 1977, a new deputy store manager joined Migros Bremgarten. Urs was his name. "I liked him right from the start," says the now 64-year-old. The feeling was mutual. Three years later, the Migros couple married in the neighbouring municipality of Wohlen.

"I was a shy girl"

Meanwhile, Brigitte Schalch had worked her way up to become head of the vegetable section. A very instructive time. "I was a very shy girl," she says, no longer shy at all. "I never contradicted anyone." But she learned from her older colleagues to stand her ground when necessary. After six years in Bremgarten, Brigitte Schalch moved to the Wohlen branch, where she stayed for 42 years, as we now know. She first worked in the non-food section and then became the "chief cashier", the head of the checkout. "Cashiering was always the thing I liked the most."

Brigitte and Urs Schalch had their first son in 1986. She worked at the till until shortly before giving birth. She then reduced her workload to just one day a week. "My sister also worked at Migros. We took turns with the children and work." The second son arrived in 1989. He is now a branch manager at Migros Schönenwerd. She spent the next few years focusing on her family, but Brigitte Schalch nonetheless continued to work at Migros Wohlen - sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. "When the children left school I was able to work more hours once again." Checkout, customer service, Subito, office: Brigitte Schalch has done all sorts of things in all her years at Migros. There was never a reason for her to move. "I felt comfortable, why would I have left?"

All promotions memorized

What has changed the most since 1975? "Everything," says Brigitte Schalch with a laugh. She remembers that the cashiers used to have to memorize all the promotions. "The list of special offers always arrived on Wednesday morning. I memorized them with the cashiers so that we could tell customers about them." She conversations with customers right up to the end, even if that no longer involved telling them about 2-for-1 deals. "At the checkout, you are the last impression customers have of Migros. I always wanted it to be a good one." She doesn't know how many times in her life she has asked the question: "Have you got Cumulus?" At least she hasn't yet been asking the question in her dreams, says Brigitte Schalch with a laugh. "But it's probably more than 300 times a day." Working full-time, that amounts to 78,000 times per year. Over forty years that would be 3.12 million times... but probably a little less in practice.

Brigitte Schalch celebrated her 64th birthday at the end of October, marking a well-deserved retirement for the grandmother of four. But she can't stop completely: "Migros has always been very flexible when I needed it with the children and family, now I'm flexible." So if there is ever an emergency in Wohlen, Brigitte Schalch will be there.

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