A visit to the Great Basin Bakery in Bishop usually elicits two reactions. The first is usually: “Damn, that’s the best cookie I’ve ever had in my life!” The second: “Was that lady at the counter for real? Can anyone really be that nice and that happy?”
With blonde hair, a quick smile, and sporting red-and-green-rimmed glasses, Christine Lozoski, 57, seems as sweet as the baked goods in the display case.
Upon entering the bakery, a customer will invariably be greeted with a cheerful acknowledgement by Lozoski — if she’s working — and will then be served food with a side of Lozoski’s goodwill and humor. It got The Sheet to wondering, is the sweet demeanor real, or is it just a façade she wears behind the counter?
That’s why The Sheet decided to investigate the real Christine Lozoski, to reveal whether her endearing identity is actually false — giving customer service representatives a bad name everywhere — or if her cheerfulness is authentic, restoring The Sheet’s faith in human goodness – at least for the time being. Although a lot was at stake, Lozoski agreed to an interview.
“No, I’m not putting on an act at work,” Lozoski said, laughing, and then adding, “But I’m really not as nice as you think I am!”
As the interview unfolded, however, Lozoski’s remarks did not to allude to any sort of dark side she might be trying to hide. She remained bubbly and energetic throughout the morning. Even her employer and co-workers couldn’t — or didn’t want to expose — any dirt on Lozoski.
“I love her sense of humor,” said bakery owner Robin Bolser, who hired Lozoski three years ago.
Lozoski said when she applied to work at Great Basin, she wanted to be a baker; she’d always idealized the sweet and simple life of baking bread and for a living.
“I used to bake,” Lozoski said. “And I thought I could be a baker, but luckily they hired someone else because bakers start work at 3 a.m. and I don’t think I could do that!”
Lozoski said at first, working in a bakery like Great Basin was a battle against temptation, but now she is better at controlling her sweet tooth. Cookies though, are still her weakness. She’s a “cookie pusher,” she said, because if she can’t get other people to buy and eat them, then she will.
“I haven’t gained weight,” Lozoski said. “But, well, I haven’t lost weight either!”
Before working at Great Basin, Lozoski said she held a long-term job at a public library, where she constantly worked with people. She said it was there that she learned the importance of customer service. Whether the library’s budget could afford to order good books or not, she said, people came back because of their good service experiences, and for being treated with respect.
“I don’t want to press one, press two, or press three,” Lozoski said. “I want service. I guess I would like to serve others how I would like to be treated as a customer. Most people come back for good service.”
Many customers seem to appreciate both Lozoski’s good service and mood. Lozoski attributes her positive mood to Bishop’s reliable good weather. After growing up and spending most of her life in Utica, New York, she said the eternal sunshine of Bishop always lifts her spirits. She also said that since the weather is nicer here, the people are nicer as well.
“People here are less cranky,” Lozoski said. “You never get two weeks of gloom and rain. And, it’s beautiful, so how could you not be in a good mood?”
She said she appreciates more than just the good weather in Bishop. You can wear what you want and never feel like you’re in a country club where everyone looks the same.
“You’re bound to fit in, because no one else does either,” Lozoski said.
She also recognized the inherent necessity of accepting and being nice to everyone she meets in town, considering the size of Bishop. She said the town is so small, you never know whether the person you blew up at will be sitting at your table at the wedding reception you’re attending.
“I don’t tailgate as much anymore,” she said, chuckling.
Lozoski also said she makes a point of making a good impression with everyone because she never knows whether they’re important people or not.
“Last year,” Lozoski said, “I went to a party and John Bachar was there. I mean, that’s pretty impressive—not that he was there, but that I was there. It’s always good to be nice to people because you never know who they are. You never judge someone. Or, you wait until they’ve left and then you talk about them!”
In a small town, Lozoski said, a smile from a stranger might be all you need to brighten up your day. She said she remembers when she first moved to Bishop and went into Spellbinder Books, one of the owners said, “Hi Christine.” She said it must have made a real impression on her because she still remembers the incident.
Lozoski said customers come back to Great Basin both for the baked goods, made with quality ingredients, and the quality service they receive. She said not all the credit could be given to good customer service, since the Great Basin’s products truly are delicious. Since they’re made with natural ingredients (some organic), no preservatives, baked fresh daily and locally, the products are really what the customers return again and again for.
“The business survived the no-carb diet trend,” Lozoski said. “So we must be doing something right!”
When asked if she identified with a type of baked good, Lozoski was quick to answer.
“I’m a cookie,” she said. “Everyone likes a cookie, not that I’m saying that everyone likes Christine. A cookie is easy, there’s no exterior wrapping, and they usually do their job to make you feel better.”