The Friendliest Man on Campus

Photo by University of Texas Division of Housing and Food Services

Shelton Willis is a key personality that can be found on the UT campus. He works at Kin’s Market in Kinsolving dormitory where he can always be seen smiling and chatting with the students. If you’re ever in need of a pick me up drop by the store and go through his check-out line.

Shelton arrives at Kin’s Market at 6:30 a.m. every weekday. He spends his first thirty minutes turning the lights on, stocking his cash register, and making sure the coffee pots are full. Once the doors open at 8 a.m. he’s ready to provide some of the best customer service you have ever seen.

His is the voice you can hear greeting every single student that walks through the doors by name and calling out, “Have a blessed day!” as they leave.

Shelton applied for the job working in the convenience mart on the University of Texas campus five years ago after seeing an ad in a local newspaper. The manager planned to offer him a position as a server in the Kinsolving cafeteria but Shelton said “I guess she could just see something in me” so she gave him the job in the jam-packed, busy market instead.

Shelton, a native Austinite and graduate of Reagan High School, said the busiest hours are between 8 and 10 a.m. and between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. as students flood the store to pick up breakfast and then lunch in between classes.

He said that it can be a tough job but “once you get into a routine you can do it with your eyes closed.”

In the five years Shelton has worked at Kin’s Market he’s not only developed a routine, he’s fallen in love with the place. He said his job is “just so much fun it’s not even a job.”

“I miss the place when I’m not here, “ he said.

And the work he’s put into his job certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Jessica Lauer, a sophomore at the University of Texas said, “He always makes my day because he’s always so upbeat.”

“It’s great, everyone knows him because he’s so friendly,” she said

Jessica said Shelton knows her by name despite the fact that she is just one of hundreds of students that make their way through the store every day to buy items like pens, bottled drinks, and pizza.

Shelton said it usually takes him two encounters with a student to memorize their name.  He said, “That’s the way it should be [the students] are like my family.”

Willis has practically become a part of the students’ family as well. He said he regularly gets letters from the parents of dormitory residents thanking him for taking care of their kids.

And parents aren’t the only ones taking note of his superb service. He’s won several awards and last year the Department of Housing and Food Services threw him a party after he received 250 votes for providing the best customer service on campus.


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