Sporting her red boots daily, Carly Milner is breaking new ground in the male-dominated field of meat department management. (Courtesy photo)

Walk into the meat department in the Cash Saver at 1620 Madison Ave. and you are likely to find Carly Milner breaking barriers in her signature red boots.

Milner, according to storeowner Rick James’ account, is the first – and only – African-American female managing such a meat department in Memphis.

Milner began her career as an employee in Cash Saver’s deli department while in school at Southwest Tennessee Community College. After working as a deli manager for 15 years and in the meat department for nine years, Milner was put in charge of managing the meat department.

“I worked in the deli department for a long time and wanted to try something new,” Milner said. “I would have never thought I would love it as much as I did. There were a lot of meats I didn’t know about.”

Milner’s determination, drive and efforts to perfect everything she does played a major role in her recent accomplishment.

“What’s so striking about Carly is her unmatched customer service and how helpful she is to the customer,” said James, who has owned the Cash Saver store for 16 years. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my 40 years in the business.”

Managing a store’s meat department is a male-dominated field, James said.

“Traditionally men and women work in the department but play different roles. It is unusual for a woman to lead the entire department, but when we found out that our former meat manager was retiring, we thought Carly would be a great fit for the job.”

The transition was not easy, Milner said.

“…I had a lot of help from other employees, including my husband, who I work alongside in the meat market.”

As the store’s meat manager, Milner is responsible for maintaining safety and sanitation standards according to the store’s specifications, monitoring inventory, keeping supplies in stock and ensuring that products are fresh. Milner manages sales as she works with distributors to get quality meat at reasonable prices for the customers’ best interest.

And in directing a workforce, she is called upon to display leadership skills.

Sporting her red boots daily, Carly Milner is breaking new ground in the male-dominated field of meat department management. (Courtesy photo)

“I absolutely love my job and I’m willing to go as far as the Lord will take me,” Milner said. “I plan to open my own soul food restaurant one day.”

What’s up with the red boots that she dons daily?

“Everybody always asks about the red boots, but they are just really comfortable,” she said. “I work with a lot of blood and different smells and it’s easy to just get the water hose and clean them off.”

(Ariel Hall, a rising senior at LeMoyne-Owen College, is an MPLOY Youth Summer Experience program intern at The New Tri-State Defender.)