(Re)introducing: Elliott & Lara 2/4/2021

Quick things:

 

Well, folks, we’re getting really close. So close that Dusty and I are starting to talk about dates again. I’m a planner and could be talking about dates months (years) ahead of time, but Dusty’s a little more spontaneous so I know once he starts getting specific, it must be real.

We’re close enough that we’re ready to launch a little newsletter series that I’ve been eagerly awaiting — the introduction/re-introduction of our staff! Not only has it been a while since you’ve had more than a glimpse of them, but it’s a lot of new faces! We’ve got a lot of lost time in getting to know each other to make up for, so consider this a head start. We’ll be featuring two of ’em a week for the next three weeks, and today we’ve got Elliott and Lara.

Before I get started on the individuals, though, let me just gush for a moment about the team as a whole. These people are amazing and wonderful and I can’t wait for you to get to meet them for real. They are thoughtful, kind, diligent, earnest, caring, ambitious, playful, interesting, curious, responsible, compassionate, and dedicated folks. Expanding our crew to meet the needs of a fuller time operation was always one of the most intimidating pieces for Dusty and me, and it’s turned out to be one of the most rewarding. Not a day goes by that we don’t marvel at how lucky we feel to be in community with our staff. We are so grateful to them for all the time and love and WORK they’ve put in over the past many months. They’ve kept this operation going, and they’ve kept us sane. They’re the best.

And without further ado — I give you, Elliott Strawser.

Elliott is our most senior staff member, with nearly two years under his belt. He’s currently our Service Supervisor (we’re still workshopping the exact title). If you’ve seen anyone since this whole thing began, it’s probably been Elliott. For many months, he was our main order picker/shopper and main order runner. These days, he’s our main order checker/cashier (since the new system requires running everything through the POS). From behind the register, he keeps the order fulfillment process running smoothly, spearheads special projects (like “The Ultimate Guide to Radish & Rye Bag Stickering”), and generally lends a calm and capable presence to both the routine and the chaotic. Since starting at R&R Elliott reports that his interest in food has grown and he learns more with each passing day!

Outside of R&R, Elliott’s a filmmaker at heart and has been pursuing that goal since leaving school. Actually — “since leaving school” is how Elliott put it in the little “talking points” he sent me for this post, but I’ve known Elliott since he was five years old and I can tell you that his interest in filmmaking and active pursuit of that interest has been going for a lot longer than “since leaving school”. He and I worked together on a Circle School video project nearly ten years ago! Elliott’s grown a lot since then — artistically, intellectually, and vertically — but he’s always been a delight. We’re so happy to have him here.

 

Our second most senior staff member is Lara Strayer — we celebrate her one year work-a-versary tomorrow!

If you think about that timing for a moment, you might realize that it means that Lara had only been with R&R for a little over a month when the shutdown order came and we moved to curbside-only. She’d been with us only a few weeks, really, when the collective panic and great run on grocery stores (and little market stands) started. Some of her earliest days with us were some of our most chaotic. I’d say something like, “I’m afraid Lara’s training suffered as a result,” but I think the reality is that while our training of Lara effectively ceased, she went right on training herself and seems to have done a pretty stellar job of it.

Today, Lara is our Merchandising Supervisor — she oversees receiving, prepping, and displaying all the produce that comes through the doors. I can’t even begin to tell you what a big job this is, and how easy Lara makes it look with her thoughtfulness, diligence, and eye for beauty. She also deserves credit for most of the beautiful product photos on our website!

Lara has impressed me over and over again in her time here, but one of the things that impressed me most was when we hired three newbies pretty much all at once very shortly after we’d promoted her to the Merch Supe position (ie, created the position to reflect what she was mostly already doing). I was a little nervous about how we were going to get three people trained while still doing our regular jobs, but before I even knew what was happening Lara had taken those newbies under her wing and — with astounding patience and expertise — got them up to speed in record time. (Stay tuned for more about those three newbies in future weeks!)

A fun fact about Lara is that she loves fun facts! I think part of why her self-training and training of others has been so successful is that Lara is insatiably curious, and loves sharing what she’s learned with others. When we get a new veggie in, Lara often researches it and posts her findings to Slack. She tells me, “I also love how I searched for a recipe to use for those habanadas and yours/Sara Bozich’s popped up first! I love the Harrisburg community and the way R&R fits into it.” On the downside, she says, “the only thing I hate is how Fiddle Creek Greek yogurt has ruined all other Greek yogurts for me.”

When she’s not at Radish & Rye, Lara’s a seamstress and a writer, and since recently moving to an apartment with a bigger kitchen, she’s looking forward to diving into more cooking experiments.

And lastly — Lara says, “I genuinely can’t wait to have customers back in the store so I can share all my new fun facts!”

I can’t wait either.

-Julia