Some retailers enter holiday season unsure of temp hiring

Stacey Schmidt tries out for a data entry position at Enstrom Candies.

Holiday staffing levels are varying widely at retailers across the city as the Christmas shopping season is expected to feel the effects of the nation’s flagging economy.

Jennie Mason, manager of Girlfriends, 316 Main St., said one person was hired to help through the holidays, and that’s less than prior years.

Amber Walker, manager of Toys For The Fun Of It, 519 Main St., said holiday hiring may happen at the store
if management sees the need. Store owners there usually hire at least one or two people by this time each year to help carry it through the holidays, she said.

“I think we’ve been doing like everybody else and waiting to see what the economy’s going to do, but I’m not sure if they’ll decide later,” Walker said.

Besides the national economy, many local store managers said they face the challenge of Grand Junction’s low unemployment rate. Recent labor statistics showed unemployment had dipped from 4.2 percent in August to 3.8 percent in September.

“We’ve had years where we didn’t even have to advertise. People just knew we were hiring,” said Darla Fortner, human resources manager at Enstrom Candies, which started holiday hiring earlier this year. “The upside is a lot of people are working. The downside is it doesn’t leave as much of a pool for us for seasonal work. Now, I have to be a lot more creative with recruitment to get people in the door.”

Enstrom Candies has hired 80 people, mostly for the call center to take candy orders. Other extra holiday help includes eight workers per retail location and staff at a kiosk in the Mesa Mall near Claire’s. Most of the store’s hiring for the holidays has been done, unless it loses employees before the holidays, Fortner said.

Extra employees also were added in shipping and production, she said.

The Buckle in the Mesa Mall recently expanded, adding more retail space, and is hiring more holiday help than in previous years. Manager Michelle Reed said her store doesn’t target a specific number of people but is always looking for quality people.

Rick Crippen, manager for Dolce Vita Italian Cuisine restaurant, 336 Main St., said the restaurant extends its part-time Mesa State student staff hours during their Christmas break to help with holiday banquets and parties. But there are no plans to hire extra help.

“We generally don’t do extra holiday hiring, especially this year with the economic picture,” Crippen said.

“Things are getting a little bit lean.”

Employees at Summit Canyon Mountaineering, 461 Main St., said they’ve seen people looking for seasonal work, but the store is fully staffed.

Mesa Mall tends to hire for the season at most of the large department stores, said Jennifer Hobbs, acting marketing manager for the mall.

Maurice’s hired three more people in the past two months to carry the store through the holidays, said Sarah Stevens, one of the managers for the Mesa Mall store.

J.C. Penney in Mesa Mall is hiring about the same amount of employees for the holidays and is taking applications, employees there said.


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