Saskatchewan

Sask. grocery manager dances through the aisles to brighten shoppers' days during pandemic

Aaron Karpinka hopes his goofy dancing brings a smile to someone, even if only for a second.

'We can take a minute here or there to concentrate on the things that bring us joy': Aaron Karpinka

Aaron Karpinka is a grocery store manager and musician in Saskatoon. The manager has been dancing through the pandemic to keep spirits high. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

A grocery store manager in Saskatoon is using his dance moves to keep people smiling during the pandemic. 

Aaron Karpinka is the manager at the Extra Foods on Broadway and has been working there since 2008. He said the workplace atmosphere started to change at the beginning of the pandemic. 

"It's been incredibly nerve-wracking as you can imagine," Karpinka said. "As this thing kind of ramped up we saw a lot of what you describe as panic shopping or hoarding and things like that and your heart kind of breaks for people."

Karpinka said he and the staff have been trying to keep the store calm through changes in how they work, signage and more. 

One of the ways Karpinka is keeping people calm is dancing. At the beginning of his shift, he makes a point to dance up to his employees. 

"My dance moves were so terrible," Karpinka said with a laugh. "But they seem to get such a kick out of it that if I'm doing it and I would kind of just see them laughing from 100 feet away as I dance up to them." 

One day, Karpinka set up his phone and decided to post a short video of his moves on his Twitter page for fun. 

"It wasn't the attention or the validation — It was the reactions that said, 'Oh my gosh, I needed this today. I needed to see something like this,'" Karpinka said. "Just a dancing Sasquatch making his way down an aisle."

Karpinka said the messages and comments have kept him posting new videos. 

"It's important to kind of walk into work like that," Karpinka said. 

"My days are brutal sometimes working as a frontline worker and I need to cheer myself up. I'm trying to cheer others up as well." 

The music each morning varies, he said, from 80s hits to more modern songs. 

"I usually dance to what the kids call 'club bangers,'" Karpinka said. "I need a big mid tempo groove or I'll gas right out. I know my own limits. You know, I'm more of a minivan, I'm not a Porsche."

Karpinka said he was concerned at first about making his dancing public because he didn't know how his district manager would react, but he's been supportive.

Karpinka said he hopes more people take the chance to dance through the pandemic. 

"We can take a minute here or there to concentrate on the things that bring us joy," he said. 

"It makes me super happy to hear that I made someone's day or even made them laugh for a couple of seconds as they scrolled through their feed." 

About the Author

Heidi Atter

AP/Journalist

Heidi Atter is a journalist working in Regina. She started with CBC Saskatchewan after a successful internship and has a passion for character-driven stories. Heidi has worked as a reporter, web writer, associate producer and show director so far, and has worked in Edmonton, at the Wainwright military base, and in Adazi, Latvia. Story ideas? Email heidi.atter@cbc.ca.

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