JACKSON, Wyo. — It may be summer’s end, but a staffing shortage that has burdened Jackson’s small businesses in the last several months, is not dwindling with the season.
Yesterday, Altitude, a women’s clothing store located on Town Square, announced that they plan to shorten their hours due to a shortage of staff.
“Staffing shortages here in Jackson mean we must adjust our hours. We thank you for your patience during this difficult time. While subpar customer [service] isn’t what we want to provide, we sadly can only do so much to accommodate everyone,” Altitude said in a post to social media.
“Shopping small isn’t always easy, the parking, the tourists, the fact we can’t afford to do free shopping both ways, etc.”
Last month when Buckrail spoke with Dan Quirk, manager of The Bird, he said that staffing shortages have affected management’s ability to properly run the restaurant like they used to.
“Normally I’ll have the front of house fully staffed by early April, but I’ve been training someone every week this summer,” Quirk said. “I used to set a schedule that would run through September, but this year it is almost a day-to-day thing.”
In July, The Bird shut down its Sunday brunch, a dining experience that locals religiously attended. It was a signal to the community that their staff could not be overworked if they wanted to continue to operate for the season.
However, The Bird wasn’t the first to shorten their hours. In late May, Parks & Rec along with the Library, announced that they would close on Sundays until their staff positions were filled. In June, both Trio and Local decided to close on Saturdays due to staffing issues. The popular restaurants, owned by Chef Will Bradof and Chef Paul Wireman are located in downtown Jackson and serve hundreds of guests per night.
When these fine dining restaurants made this announcement earlier in the summer, they explained that the purpose was to ” prioritize the health and happiness of their employees.”
Around the same time, The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce released data from a survey compiling responses from 250 members across small, medium and large businesses.
According to the survey findings, over 50% of respondents considered adjusting their operations due to the staffing shortage whether through reducing hours or days (32%), adjusting their product (19%), or closing their business entirely (5%). Mentioned in the “other” category often is leaving Teton County, whether it be allowing remote work or moving their office entirely.
About 85% of employers have increased their wages, 36% offer a referral bonus, and 27% offer a sign-on bonus, said the Chamber.
While these incentives aim to attract more employees, the larger problem at hand is that the town cannot house them. Staffing issues in Jackson go hand in hand with the housing crisis. It’s hard to solve one without fixing the other.
After a season of unprecedented visitation and low numbers of staff available for hire, this tourism-driven town has felt extreme burnout this season. And as the staffing and housing crises continue, so will Jackson’s small businesses suffer.