Owners and Managers at King Street shops heading to the front of the house as staffing shortages hit retail

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Retail stores across the Lowcountry detail struggles to staff their shops. This all comes just as business has started to pick back up again.

‘Help Wanted’ and ‘We’re Hiring’ signs line over 30 shops on King Street in Downtown Charleston. Many owners and managers barely have time to detail their needs and circumstances to News 2 due to being so short-staffed.

Most of the owners manned their cash-registers again rather than working behind the scenes, and for those we spoke with, it’s been a long time since they were in the front of the shop.

For Maria Mosquera, the Owner of Freddo Gelato, her workforce typically consists of college students, but so far that hasn’t been the case this year. Instead, Mosquera said she now works every day. Years ago, she worked every day but not in the front of the store. 

Mosquera said she believes that most of the students are taking virtual classes at home and not coming to Charleston. This means that fewer students are available to work than in previous years. 

Angel Hafner, the Retail Manager at Candlefish, said they’ve been getting a lot of one or two-day availabilities or people applying who can’t start for a really long time. Hafner said right now, they are in an urgent place to hire people and grow their team. 

Anna Underwood, a Sales Associate with Half-Moon Outfitters, explained she believes a lot of the hesitation comes from the pandemic. While they understand some concerns, she, along with Hafner and Mosquera, feel safe in their shops—each with their own protocols in place. 

Underwood said, “it is kinda close contact with like helping people with picking out clothes or shoes or anything, but for me personally I’m comfortable with it.”

Even those who have worked in retail for 7 years like Hafner said precautions are in place, and with spring being the main time to bring in new employees—she believes the pandemic is primarily to blame.

Hafner said, “I  think if we were not in a pandemic and COVID had not happened it would be much easier to hire people because people wouldn’t be quite as cautious in working with the public and working closely.”

Whether you are looking for part-time or full-time employment, many of these shops are not requiring extensive experience but rather a positive attitude and availability.

Photos: ‘We’re Hiring’ Signs throughout King Street

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