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Davis Journal

Bagger’s ‘fun facts’ take boredom out of shopping

Sep 02, 2022 12:07PM ● By Becky Ginos

Peter Hoemke rides his bike to Bountiful City Park after his shift at Smith’s. He impresses customers with his knowledge of a variety of subjects they choose. Photo by Becky Ginos

WOODS CROSS—Peter Hoemke doesn’t just help customers at Smith’s – he entertains them. Hoemke shares what he calls “fun facts” with customers waiting in line and impresses them with his knowledge of a wide range of topics of their choosing.

“Generally customers just stood there bored,” said Hoemke. “Rather than being bored I’d ask them if they were entertained by fun facts. If they said yes I’d ask them if they’d like to pick a subject. It seems to intrigue them. I see a few 100 people a day. Sixty to eighty wanted to hear it and some didn’t want to talk at all.”

Hoemke has a good memory but he loves knowledge and is curious about things. “I like reading and researching. It definitely helped as I went through school. In elementary school I would get 100s on tests. It was so mundane to me I’d throw it away. I didn’t place much value on it because it came so easily.”

However, it still takes active effort, he said. “I took a Spanish class in high school. I learned to read and have small conversations but I didn’t put in the effort to remember so now I don’t remember much Spanish.” 

Hoemke grew up in Texas and first came to Utah when his brother and his wife needed someone to take care of their child while they worked. “There were good jobs here so I stayed,” he said. “Originally I worked part time because I watched my nephew. Now I’m full time at Smith’s. My coworkers are tons of fun. It’s really enjoyable there.”

He also started working part time at Lowe’s so he could save up money for school. “I want to be a naturopathic doctor,” said Hoemke. “They’re a licensed MD but then they do two more years learning more details about interactions using herbs. It’s diet related stuff with a more rounded view than just using pharmaceuticals.”

There are two options to get into the field, he said. “I can get a BS in microbiology or biochemistry. To even get in (to college) that’s $40,000 and $80,000 for the other one (medical school). That’s a lot of money. It’s expensive and extremely competitive. I have two jobs to save up money to get into college.”

In the meantime, Hoemke spends a lot of time doing research. “If I do it after a really long day I don’t do as thorough of a research job. When I have periods of free time sometimes I go into a rabbit hole and look deep into it. It takes time to research, especially if it is a complicated subject.”

Sometimes customers will try to trip him up, said Hoemke. “Doctors and nurses and engineers will test my knowledge. I usually get it right. But one time a nurse asked me about what Tylenol and Ibuprofen do. I went home and looked it up and I found out you can take both and it’s safe. That was interesting to know.”  

It’s kind of funny, some people choose odd subjects, he said. “They’ll ask something they’ve been thinking about recently. It’s easiest if you have a subject in mind before you ask. That makes it easier for me.”

Hoemke said he tries to be varied with his fun facts. “Don’t feel scared to share fun facts with me. It’s fine for me to expand my knowledge. I just need to know where to expand it.”

Hoemke plans to keep entertaining customers with his fun facts as they’re waiting in line. “It definitely makes the day pass faster.” λ