From D Mart to Vadnais Market to Big John's Market, Manuel Bracamonte provided stellar customer service to the community while he experienced the management styles of three different owners.
On Monday, Bracamonte reported to truck driver's school in Fontana, Calif. His last day at work at Big John's Market was Saturday.
"The customers keep coming up to hug me," said Bracamonte."There's a lot of sad customers.
"I've done the same thing all my life," he said. "It's time to move on.
At 42, he'll be leaving home for the first time. Bracamonte, who grew up in the area, will still have family ties here. Bracamonte graduated from Healdsburg High School.
After finishing driving school, he'll be a long-distance freight driver for CR England Trucking.
Bracamonte started to work as a 16-year-old at the old D Mart, working for Dick and Mae Low, but he credits most of what he's learned to Doug Vadnais, Jr. The Vadnais family bought the market from the Lows in the early 90s.
For 26 years, he's been the face of customer service at the store.
"I have mixed feelings," said 23-year-old, front end manager, Patty Gonzalez. "I'm sad, but happy for Manuel.
"He felt it was time to move on," she continued. "He's really excited about it--so it's good.
"I've never seen him so happy," she concluded. "A lot of the customers have said they'll miss him."
"I've learned a lot," said Bracamonte. "I've learned a little about each customer's life, and they've learned a little about me.
"If I was sad, they'd cheer me up," he continued.
"I trained a lot of employees," said Bracamonte. "I taught them all I learned from Doug.
"Manuel's the one who trained me," said Big John's Market checker Adrian Batiño. "He's a really good trainer.
"I'm going to miss him a lot," continued Batiño. "He left me his Big John's jacket."