Debbie Hickman – Owner, Giant Eagle
Debbie Hickman is the independent owner of Giant Eagle Store #697 on Frankstown Avenue in the East Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Debbie grew up nearby in the Larimer Avenue section where she developed her business acumen early on. As the third of six children, she had many odd jobs, shoveling snow during winter and selling candy and flower seeds during fall and spring.
After graduating from Peabody High School, Debbie got her first job with Giant Eagle at their Greenfield store. She moved on to the East Hills store where she worked part-time for five years before securing a full-time position at her next location, in New Kensington. There, she met a number of managers who were under 30, like her, and she set her sights on advancing into a management role. Soon after, she moved to the McKeesport store, where she was promoted when only a few women across the company held that position. Even though she hoped to transition from a store to head office, Debbie chose to put that dream on hold while she and her husband raised their children, a son and a daughter.
After her daughter graduated from college, Debbie re-entered the career track, seeking a position at a Giant Eagle that, unfortunately, fell through. Undiscouraged, she lobbied to expand her opportunities within the company, eventually convincing higher ups at Giant Eagle Corporation to grant her an independent owner license at a location she had identified at the corner of Frankstown Avenue and Verona Road. Her biggest motivation was the need for a grocery store in a community that had recently suffered the closure of the only grocery store in a three-mile radius.
Debbie opened her store in May of 2002 vowing to be both an employer and mentor. She strives to make every position an opportunity for each of her 85 employees. She established a multi-faceted Apprentice Program focused on three disciplines—cake decorating, butchery and accounting—to encourage specialized skills development. Some employees have moved on to greater positions of responsibility in her store, while others have started their own businesses or advanced to positions with the corporate office.
Debbie believes that her legacy will be informed by the fact that she never put profit before people. She continues to work hard and create opportunities for young people to perform work that they can be proud of that allows them to support themselves and their families.
She was recently honored with an Onyx Woman Magazine Legacy Award as an Up and Coming Entrepreneur.
9001 Frankstown Rd
Pittsburgh, PA 15235-1432