Concession queen

Autumn Favela

Photo By Monica Unhold

Next time you see a movie, remember buying a bigger popcorn and soda might earn the kid behind the counter a trip across the country. That’s exactly what happened to Autumn Favela, an employee at the Chico Cinemark for nearly four years. Favela beat out employees at the local and regional competitions, earning herself a trip to the national competition in Plano, Texas. By raking in the most cash from concession sales, Favela traded mounds of buttery popcorn for a towering trophy that sparkles behind the concessions counter at Tinseltown.

What do you think makes you better at selling concessions than others?

I like working with people. I always smile and greet people. A lot of the people wait for the customer to come up to them, but I start with, “Hi, how are you?” It’s also kind of a challenge to see if you can sell them more than they had originally anticipated.

So how does the competition work?

First I won the competition here [in Chico], then I won the regional competitions. There were 10 employees from across the country flown out to Plano, Texas, where the corporate headquarters are. We were there for three days. We competed from 6 to 9 on a Saturday night at Cinemark’s largest theater—it was a 24-screen. I won the category for total dollars sold. The other categories were total ounces of Coke sold and speed of service. There was also a group competition. That one was the most fun because we weren’t so much competing with one another, but with last year’s group. If we could make more money as a collective whole in that three-hour period than the people had last year, then we would all receive a certain amount of money. We won and we were so excited.

What did you do during the two days you weren’t competing?

They had recreational events like an awards ceremony. I got to go shopping, bowling, laser tagging, to Six Flags in Texas. They always tried to make it fun. It was the first time some of the people there ever flew [on an airplane].

Did you get to meet any of the bigwigs while you were in Texas?

Yeah, they took us on a tour of the corporate headquarters. It was all marble in there, and they had their own hair salon. We met the manager in charge of all the concessions and the CEO of the company. It was fun because we got to see where a lot of the things we work with originate.

What do you plan to do with the money you won?

Well, last year I put the money [from a Cinemark scholarship] toward my books and tuition [at Chico State]. It was great; it paid for everything. But this year I needed an air conditioner in my truck.