This story originally appeared in The Journal Gazette on May 8, 2010:
When Aretha Franklin is in your checkout lane, you’d better show some “r-e-s-p-e-c-t.”
Management at the Walmart in Auburn said the Queen of Soul and her entourage apparently made a stop there this week to restock their tour bus parked outside. The soul icon was on her way home to Detroit from a concert in Birmingham, Ala.
Workers at the retailer spotted the R&B singer strolling the aisles buying food, clothing, plants and other items.
“I wasn’t aware of it until after she left,” said Chad Hinshaw, store manager. Store staff said Franklin visited the retailer about 1 p.m. Tuesday. Staff said she spent about $1,000 in an hour of shopping.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of commotion or anything like that,” Hinshaw said.
Cashier Karen Wysong, 59, waited on Franklin and described her as “very low-key and nice.”
“She had four shopping carts, mostly food, which I think was for the really big guys dressed in black with her,” said Wysong, an eight-year employee at the store.
“She had a pretty good walkabout. Her driver told me they had been on the road for weeks. ... I think she was going to donate the clothing.”
Wysong said she was proud that customers didn’t bombard the star.
“I didn’t know who she was until I asked her driver, but when she signed the receipt for her credit card, the signatures matched,” she said.
“She put all of the items on the (conveyor) herself. She didn’t make a big deal about it. I didn’t either, but when I got to the break room there was a lot of hubbub.”