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Tucson grocery bagger extraordinaire gets spot on Letterman show



When someone tells Tucsonan Francisco Palacios to “go bag it,” he does so willingly.

In fact, the 18-year-old Fry’s Food Store employee does it so well that he was recently declared America’s Best Bagger.

The title comes with a $2,000 prize and a guest spot Wednesday on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” which airs in Tucson at 10:30 p.m. on CBS.

Palacios was unavailable for comment Tuesday. He was on a plane to New York City, where Letterman’s show is taped.

The Fry’s where Palacios works will receive a large special check stand worth $6,000. It will be on display at the store, 7050 E. 22nd St., near South Kolb Road.

“We’re really proud of him,” said Fry’s corporate spokeswoman JoEllen Lynn. “This is pretty high standards.”

The USA Best Bagger Competition, held Feb. 5 during the National Grocers Association convention in Las Vegas, is the pinnacle of bagging contests.

Palacios was eligible to compete against 23 others after he won December’s State Bag-off Competition in Phoenix.

He went to the national level with a ready-made fan club, Lynn said.

“Fifty of our employees got on a bus and went to cheer him on during the national convention,” she said. “They made little signs and everything.”

Competitors were judged using both plastic and paper bags in the categories of speed, bag-building technique and weight distribution among bags. But the Best Bagger was not chosen on bagging alone. Entrants were also judged on style, appearance and attitude.

“He’s just very personable, warm and customer friendly,” Lynn said of Palacios, who has been with Fry’s for about 10 months.

She has never met Palacios, but was duly impressed by a video she saw of him bagging goods.

While Palacios took top honors as a bagger, his goals are even higher.

He has already been promoted to the store’s produce department, Lynn said.

Palacios attends Pima Community College, where he’s studying to be a pharmacist.

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This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

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