NITRO, WV (WOWK) – Many small businesses in our region are still struggling to find enough staff, not just to operate normally, but to stay open at all.
That mixed with the drastic increase in the cost of ingredients is taking a major toll. No matter where you go or what type of businesses it is, the story is the same. Business owners say the jobs are there but no one wants them.
“Everyone here is family, my brother, my dad, my sister-in-law and sometimes my sister,” explained Aloha Adkins, Manager and owner at Shima’s Family Restaurant.
She says family has to stick together to keep things going in the kitchen, because they can’t get anyone else to come to work.
“Either we get no response or someone will come in and work for a week or two and then they don’t come back,” said Whitney Brester, Assistant Manager at Shima’s.
They’ve had to cut down their menu and their hours because they just can’t stretch themselves any more. The cost of everything is also up substantially.
“All of the groceries are up so we’ve had to raise prices even though we aren’t as busy. It is terrible for mom and pops right now,” she said.
Over at Lil’Bit of Heaven Cupcakes in St. Albans owner Teri Blevins said they’d normally have around nine employees total including her and her husband. Right now it is them plus only four employees.
“The wonderful ladies that work up front for us are doing ten jobs instead of five. It means that my assistant in the kitchen is also doing twenty things at once. For me with inflation and the extreme increase in ingredients it means that I am taking weddings out of state,” Blevins said.
Right now she says they stay in survival mode even though they pay well above minimum wage.
“It forces employees to work with high adrenaline levels than they safely should. There are higher stress levels. All of my folks love getting paid, thankfully. They are happy to do that. But I know if I am working them at 40 plus hours routinely a week, the burnout level is extremely high risk,” Blevins said. “Thankfully, we still love our job, but we are just exhausted.”
Both small businesses say things are worse now than they were in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Their loyal customers are helping them find the motivation to keep going even on the worst of days.
“If you are in a mom and pop, and they are low staffed just be patient because they are trying their hardest right now. Just be extremely patient,” Brestner said.