This Amazing Southern Woman Has Worked at H-E-B for 53 Years
In 1964, Lyndon Johnson was in the White House, mini-skirts had just been invented, and Ophie Garcia started working at H-E-B. Now, at age 81, she’s still there.
Garcia, who grew up in South Texas, was working at a drugstore after her father passed away, helping bring in a little extra money for her family. When the H-E-B in Harlingen offered her 75 cents an hour to sell tobacco, she jumped at the chance to double her hourly wage, according to The Austin American-Statesman.
As both a mother of four and being from a family of migrant workers, Garcia was used to putting in long hours of hard work. She sold tobacco at the H-E-B for years, before moving up to general merchandise, which included cosmetics, hair, and skincare products, which would become her specialty for the next 40 years. According to the Statesman, working at H-E-B was an education for Garcia. Not only did she improve her English while working at the retailer, but she also learned about the ins and outs of inventory at a major shop and the latest beauty products and trends.
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At 81, Garcia is still working, putting in almost 40-hour shifts at an H-E-B in Austin, where she moved with her family in 1988. During her shifts, she gives customers tips on the latest trends—she reportedly had ombré hair before ombré hair was a thing and loves a good glittery eye shadow and is happy to share instructions with interested shoppers.
Garcia loves her job and even convinced three of her four children to join her in the H-E-B family for various stints over the years. That’s why when she was considering retiring after putting in 51 years of service, she found herself torn. She decided to turn to an old friend for advice—Charles Butt, the grandson of H-E-B founder Florence Butt. The two started at H-E-B around the same time and have become friends over the many years together. Butt, who at 80 years old still works full-time for the company, told her to follow her heart. So she stayed, telling The Statesman that she has “been real happy.”