Weather Forecast


A parking lot pro: Dowhower has been bagging and carrying out Marketplace groceries for 17 years

Paul Dowhower bags a customer's groceries at Marketplace Foods in Bemidji, where he has worked the past 17 years.

BEMIDJI -- Just like a postal carrier, come rain or shine, and even snow, Paul Dowhower delivers his packages.

Not the mail, however. In his case, it's groceries. Dowhower, 56, has been a frontend bagger and maintenance worker at Marketplace Foods in Bemidji for 17 years.

Dowhower's job includes more than carrying out groceries; he empties the garbages each morning, helps in organizing the aisles, salts the entryway during winter and mows the grass in summer.

And when it comes to bagging, Dowhower has developed a simple, yet secure system to ensure easy transportation of the groceries, always looking to keep the food items safe and undamaged. "You just put the heavy stuff on the bottom, like the cans, and then lighter stuff on top and try to get all the produce together in one bag, keeping the bread separate," Dowhower said.

Hauling out groceries to customers' vehicles has allowed Dowhower to meet a lot of people. "Anywhere I go in town, it's 'Hi Paul' because you see so many people coming through here," he said.

On every trip out to the parking lot, Dowhower tries to have a conservation with customers -- "if they don't start something, I'll start."

Though the years, Dowhower has received tips for his carryout service, recalling his highest daily total was but $35, but "somebody gave me a Kit Kat last week," he said.

Dowhower has lots of stories to tell about his trips out to the parking lot. He says about twice a week, he walks out with a customer who can't find their car. "I'll just follow them around and I'll ask what color and what kind of car it is and try and help them," he said.

His favorite part of the job is that "every day is different, that's a good thing," and as long as that continues, he doesn't see an end to his parking lot walks anytime soon. "I like it, so why would I switch?" he said.

Maggi Stivers

Maggi Stivers is a Multi-Media Journalist at the Bemidji Pioneer. She covers art and entertainment in the Bemidji area. She is a 2013 Bemidji State graduate majoring in mass communications with a minor in sociology. Contact her at (218) 333-9790 or

(218) 333-9790