Aspiring entrepreneur wants to call her own shots—By Dwight Hobbes, Contributing Writer

Catrice Grandberry -Photo by Dwight Hobbes

Catrice Grandberry is a businesswoman in the making, determined and with strong promise. She works retail at a Twin Cities liquor store going on three years now and already is a manager, planning to eventually set up her own shop.
The 27-year-old aspirant is laying groundwork. She walked in as a clerk, handling the cash register, looking after stock and doing whatever else needed doing. It entailed opening and closing the till and, when not ringing up customers, carting bottles and cigarette cartons from the back room to fill shelves.

Since nothing gets dusty quicker than rows of bottles, Grandberry had to be handy with glass-cleaner and a rag. When necessary, she swept up.
The promotion came as a combination of things. Business hit a bump, necessitating a change in ownership, creating in turn an unexpected chance to advance. When opportunity knocks, be ready to answer.

The new owners looked to fill a vacuum in managers. Grandberry stepped up and put in for the position. The owners liked what they’d seen of her work and decided she’d fill the bill just fine.

Around the same time, Grandberry started studying business administration at Globe University/Minnesota School of Business. After a year, she felt the institution’s price was steep enough without a policy she found counterproductive.

“All the money from your financial aid loan has to go to tuition and credits,” says Grandberry. “You can’t use any of it to buy, for instance, a computer.” When you consider how essential computers are to business, that’s a bass-ackward constraint to put on students. So, she’s switching to Hennepin Technical College to complete her associate’s degree.

Along with the store’s other three managers, Grandberry still puts in time at the register, only now she supervises. While it’s an enjoyable challenge, there’s a mildly annoying aspect to the supervision: having to make sure grown men do their jobs.

When she assigns a task to a woman, she can get on to other things without a concern. Not necessarily so with the fellas. “They’re lazy. Well, maybe not lazy, but forgetful. You have to tell them everything twice.

“You say, ‘Stock the beer coolers.’ Ten minutes later, you have to tell them again. But, I love ’em.” You can believe she does. Anytime you go in, there’s an easy camaraderie among all the co-workers. “We’re like family.”

Some people don’t have the right personality for retail. It requires interpersonal skills, including the ability to not let knuckleheads get on your nerves. Catrice Grandberry takes to it like a duck to water.

She’s pleasant with a ready smile, a thick skin, and a great deal of patience, all quite handy in a line of work where customers have often had a nip or two before they get there. They’ve been known to call her outside her name because they’re trying to do something they’ve no business doing.

Like trying to use somebody else’s ID to buy booze. Or trying to make a purchase with $10 in quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies when a sign on the counter clearly states the store can’t accept more than two bucks in coins.
It rolls off Grandberry’s back.

As a woman, exceptionally attractive at that, she routinely contends with come-ons. “All the time. Some of them just can’t believe I’m not interested. I shut ’em down, softly. They just keep trying.”

And keep failing. Grandberry leaves it all behind her at the end of the day and goes either home or to class.

She unwinds once or twice a week with her girlfriends or her man, sometimes both. Or just relaxes at her apartment. Like everyone else, she notices a savings when she opts for home entertainment, but the recession hasn’t really dented her lifestyle. It helps that she has never been a slave to clothing stores.

Everyone dresses down at the workplace — jeans, tee-shirts — allowing her to indulge a favorite pastime: food. “I love to eat.” One concession to lean times is that she buys a little more in bulk than she used to.

Actually, work and school don’t leave Grandberry much time to spend money. For the job, she says, “I grind. There’s a lot of times when I don’t get a day off in the week. There are Sundays when we’re closed to the public but still are here [to take] inventory. Clean up. Make pricing changes. Take down old displays, put up new ones.”

For school there are, naturally, in addition to attending class, hours bent over books doing homework. Suffice to say, the lady leads a busy life. And, indeed, she has her eye on the proverbial prize.

What moved her to become a businesswoman? “I don’t want to work for [others]. I want to be on my own time [at] my pace. I don’t want to have to answer to nobody but the IRS.”

Catrice Grandberry intends to call her own shots and is putting in place the means by which to do exactly that. Sounds, as the saying goes, like a plan.

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to