Whisper Smith

How long have you been cooperating?
I have only been here for two months now, but I feel like I have known the people for longer as they made it such a smooth transition and my comfort level with the products we sell here makes me feel like I’m home.

What do you do at the co-op?
I am the Wine and Beer Buyer. I have an Intro to Sommelier Certificate and have beer knowledge and experience from the Midwest to the West Coast.

What brought you to the co-op?
My partner received a job offer from Southern Oregon University and after working for Whole Foods in the Specialty department for 12 years, there was not one to transfer to in the area. When I found out about the Co-op, I was excited to find a job with a company that is invested in both the environment and the community.

What do you like best about your job?
I love learning about local wines, and there are so many of them! Seeing the vineyards during the drive to go hiking in the area and knowing I am supporting these small wine companies, it’s a connection that retail rarely affords.

Tell us your co-op favorites:
Foris Pinot Gris was a wine I discovered when I was buying wine in Michigan, great to know I can support it near and far. With stonefruit notes, bright acidity and a clean finish, it pairs well with food and sunshine! Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog is a delicious creamy goat cheese with morning and evening milk separated by vegetable ash, an ode to French cheese makers that used ash to protect the milk from the environment. It’s the best when it starts softening at the rind edge, the gooeyness is the goodness.

How has working at the co-op affected your life?
I now have work-life balance. Getting to satisfy and delight our customers, building relationships with coworkers and having time to research products and sharing knowledge between departments are what I love about retail and it’s so great to be able to focus on the basics.

Tell us something we don’t know! (Tell us something about yourself others might not know):
My name really is Whisper. My grandfather thought of the name when my mom was a young girl and she remembered it when she was pregnant with me. I didn’t appreciate the uniqueness of it till I was an adult and realized what a gift a name could be.

What do you like to do outside of work?
My partner and I have just started taking weekly hikes around the area, and have a list of places we want to explore once the snow melts. I also enjoy reading and playing with my cat Thomas.

Where did you grow up/where have you lived in your life?
I grew up in a small town in the heart of the thumb of Michigan. I moved to the Metro Detroit area after high school. I received a job offer to be a Wine Specialist in Ann Arbor, MI and met my partner while living there. He received a job offer from Stanford and we moved to the Bay Area a couple years back. Just a few months ago, we relocated to Medford which I lovingly refer to as the “Midwest of the West Coast.”