Although the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected some local businesses in Hillsdale County, many have not faced problems hiring new employees.
Marty Hubbard, the owner of Rough Draft, said that although the small business has faced many problems during COVID-19, hiring new employees has not been one of them. She said the biggest challenge for business has been exercising prudence when deciding when to re-open, and under what guidelines.
“Most of the country has been watching the virus since the first of March. And in the beginning, I think everyone, for all the correct reasons, was totally on board with the regulations,” Hubbard said. “I closed both of my businesses. I thought it was in the best interest because we didn’t know what we were dealing with.”
Hubbard said she reopened her businesses once she knew it was safe, but has been frustrated by expansive guidelines.
“As time went on, people lost livelihoods. They’ve lost jobs, and businesses are closing,” Hubbard said. “But I think in this case, it’s true that the cure has been worse than the disease.”
When Rough Draft re-opened this summer, junior Sophia Berryhill was hired as a barista. Once she got back to Hillsdale, Berryhill said she was glad that she secured a job at a location that could conduct business as usual.
“I’ve wanted to work at Rough Draft since I visited as a prospective student in high school,” Berryhill said. “So it was very comforting for me to know that they were confident in me being able to work and then being able to continue business in Hillsdale.”
Berryhill said the training process in a pandemic, as well as COVID-19 guidelines, haven’t dulled her experience at Rough Draft.
“They definitely weren’t scared to hire people. Training was pretty straightforward and thankfully, in terms of COVID-19 precautions at Rough Draft, we’re socially distanced from the customer,” Berryhill said. “We’re not really in close contact with people for more than a couple of minutes at a time. So there’s not a lot of fear that I’m going to get coronavirus from working here.”
David Karim, owner of recently opened New York Taco, said that despite the “Now Hiring” sign outside of his store window, employees haven’t been hard to find — but good employees have been.
“We get a lot of people from online, but finding the right people is hard, because I require that you cannot be on any form of drugs when you are working,” Karim said. “It is intolerable for our environment. And this is a family-owned business, so I want to make sure this is safe for my kids and for my customers.”
The one thing Karim has seen discourage people from applying for jobs is unemployment benefits, which have been repeatedly enhanced since the start of the pandemic.
“COVID is making a big effect on business because of the amount of money being given to people,” Karim said. “You can sit home and get $600 unemployment without going to work. But we’re still finding people who want to work.”
Even though he opened New York Taco this month, business hasn’t been halted by the pandemic, Karim said.
“We have a lot of people applying right now, because people need a job,” Karim said. “We also give them a free meal every time they work, we give them a paycheck and they are happy.”
Berryhill said she’s been impressed with local businesses’ response to the pandemic.
“They’re ready to serve Hillsdale again and get back in business,” Berryhill said.