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An Award-winning Manager

NECSA Store Operator of the Year Linda Calver believes women bring a unique perspective to the industry

Linda Calver's career in the convenience store industry started 17 years ago when she left the restaurant world to become a store manager for a Honey Farms location in Massachusetts. After one year, she moved to Cumberland Farms, and has been a store manager with the company ever since.

“I was looking to do something different, and I had some friends who worked in the convenience store industry,” she said about her switch from restaurants to c-stores. “I had been in the restaurant business for 10 years, working in everything from Burger King to fine dining, and after looking at a variety of options, the c-store industry seemed like it would suit me best. I wouldn't have to be behind a desk and could be out on my stage.”

Today, she manages 14 employees at store No. 6720 in Leicester, Mass., and after being nominated twice for the New England Convenience Store Association (NECSA) Store Operator of the Year award, she won first place in 2010. She also won a Leadership Award from the association in 2009 for her outstanding leadership qualities.

“There have been a number of people at Cumberland Farms who have won [the NECSA honor] throughout the years, and the company has high standards,” explained Calver. “They set the tone for the stores and what the expectations are, and it's our job as store managers to implement and execute them.”

Her day starts at 4:30 a.m. when she arrives at the store and prepares to open at 5 a.m. “I set up the registers, count down the drawers, set up the lottery for employees, make coffee and walk the store to see what I need to accomplish that day,” she said.

Each day is different, but Calver always helps out wherever she's needed and stays in the front with customers until at least 9 a.m., when the traffic slows down a bit. Then she heads to the back of the store to get her paperwork done.

“I try to make every day as easy as possible for the customer because I know I'm starting their day,” she said. “I try to be upbeat and positive so I can start their day with a smile. I have a lot of good people around me, starting with the customers and including the people who work for me and the support staff. I'm lucky.”

Although Calver's shift ends at 2:30 p.m., she often stays until 3:30 p.m. or later so she can see the second shift of employees. “I try to set everybody up on their shift, and the shift changes between 2 and 2:30 p.m.,” she noted. “If I stay, I get to spend some time with my second shift. If I left at 2:30 p.m., I wouldn't get to see them.”


Having spent 17 years in the c-store industry, Calver witnessed the shift as more and more women began to join the workforcew and lend their unique views and skills to the convenience industry. She also has watched as it became more acceptable for women to be in the workforce throughout all industries, and believes women can bring a different perspective to the job.

“Men don't do a lot of shopping,” she said. “We are the shoppers, and we know what is acceptable and what is not. We bring different values.”

For example, Calver said she is not willing to compromise her standards of excellence and treats the store she manages as if it were her own home. “To me, the store is the same as if I had someone over to my house for dinner. I wouldn't want people walking out [unhappy].”

Years ago, women faced more challenges in the industry compared to today, she said. As a store manager at Cumberland Farms, Calver has been given the same opportunities as any other manager, and finds she is respected by both her peers and the company management.

“There have been a lot of drastic changes since I started out in the industry, and everything evolved as women became more of a force to contend with in the industry,” she noted. “But I don't find any challenges these days.”

Although she has been offered advancement opportunities within the company, she chooses to stay where she is because she enjoys her job. “I feel very fortunate because I have good people around me, and I don't feel there is a different set of standards for me compared to the manager down the road,” she explained.

Calver is friends with other female managers in the company, and her roommate is also a store manager at Cumberland Farms. “Most of the store managers in our area are predominately female, and many helped me along the way to learn the differences between the restaurant industry and c-stores.”

“Men don't do a lot of shopping, we are the shoppers, and we know what is acceptable and what is not. we bring different values.” — Linda Calver, Cumberland Farms

While the high standards set by the company — and Calver herself — can be challenging, her favorite part is that every day brings different challenges and interactions with different people. “I try to laugh every day and have a good time, and I enjoy what I do so it makes it a lot easier,” she said.

Her advice to other female store managers in the industry is simple: be true to yourself. “They should believe in themselves and know there is nothing they can't do.”

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