NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. — In 2019, we are celebrating the women of Western New York in our City Shapers reports.

This week, 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik shows us how your summer job as a teen can end up impacting your entire career.

Suzanne Schmitz grew up in North Collins. She now owns five Save-A-Lot stores in Western New York, and she got where she is today because of her summer job when she was 16.

"They opened a store in North Collins where I grew up. So, I got a summer job there thinking it would be one of many summer jobs to come, and 20 years later, here I am as an owner," Schmitz said.

She worked her way up, becoming a store manager, then the district manager before taking the plunge into ownership.

"I still stock groceries every day and interact with customers the same way that I did on my first day, but it is a whole new level of responsibility being an owner. I have over 200 employees that rely on me to keep this thing afloat," she says.

Schmitz's typical day involves a lot of travel, meeting with store managers, and coming up with plans to keep her stores successful. She loves getting to know the customers too.

"They come in and see that we have a butcher here, and they can come in and get a piece of meat cut the way they want it. Or if they're involved in a local organization, we work with them for their meat raffle or for a fundraiser, and that kind of stuff is really fun for me, so it never gets old because we're always meeting new people and getting involved in new things," Schmitz said.

Schmitz says at the end of the day, it's all very rewarding, especially since she's doing it where she grew up.

"I'm all in on Western New York, and it's really nice to see that other people feel the same way and are starting to really buy into Buffalo as a place to move to instead of a place to move from," Schmitz says.

If you know a Western New York woman who would make a great 2019 City Shaper, you can nominate her by sending Kelly an email.


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