Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

June 13, 2013

Some businesses remain short-staffed this year

Others are not finding it hard to staff seasonal positions

By Meghan McCaffrey Contributing Writer
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Businesses in the Cooperstown area are gearing up for another summer season. As more tourists visit the area businesses, more employees need to be trained and ready to answer their call.

With so many places hiring, is there enough staff to go around?

According to Alex Webster, owner of two restaurants, Alex and Ika in Cooperstown and Cantina de Salsa in Cherry Valley, it’s hard to find “gifted staff” during the summer.

“It’s a real problem for the whole area in providing a good experience for people during the high season,” Webster said. “There just isn’t enough talent to go around.”

The “high season,” Webster said is “six weeks of craziness in July and August.”

Webster said he has had to double the amount of employees, from 20 to 40 people, in order to meet the demands of the season. As Alex and Ika celebrates 16 years in business, Webster does not have much trouble retaining staff.

Webster said it is because “we pay well and try to be loyal to our staff during the off season when business is a lot slower.”

“We’re fairly lucky, we have a lot of relationships that are long standing,” Webster said. “I remember it being harder when we weren’t so established.”

As far as business goes, it has been fluctuating, but is pretty much the same as last year at this time, Webster said.

Jennifer Moore, the manager of the Bayside Inn and Marina in Cooperstown echoed some of Webster’s concerns.

“It’s harder to find people this year,” Moore said. “I don’t know if it’s because more people are hiring or people aren’t looking for employment.”

Moore said she has 13 to 14 positions to fill every summer and she still has four positions available. She said she has had an ad in the Pennysaver for almost four weeks and also contacted Workforce Solutions in Oneonta to list the positions.

“I don’t know what it is,” Moore said about why she is having a hard time finding employees. “I wish I knew why people weren’t applying.”

“Memorial Day was amazing,” Moore said. But she added, overall business has been “slower this year.”

Business has also slowed for Paula Wikoff, owner of Lakefront Hotel and Restaurant and the Glimmerglass Queen tour boat.

“It’s a lot slower, and the reason for that I believe is the people renting houses to Dreamspark people,” Wikoff said. “I heard they have 100 new houses doing it this year.”

Wikoff said she usually has 10 to 11 seasonal positions and has filled them all, mostly with return employees.

“I’m very lucky because my people come back every year,” Wikoff said. “People like working here.”

Bob Holt, the general manager of the Best Western, said he did not have any trouble finding employees for the 20 seasonal positions he had available.

“We have a lot of people who return season to season,” Holt said.

Seasonal work tends to appeal to young adults, college students and retirees Holt said.

Brad Horn, spokesman for the National Baseball Hall of Fame said the museum too has a varied group in its staff.

“Our seasonal employees feature a broad range of ages, high school, college, adult and retirees,” Horn said.

Horn said that the Baseball Hall of Fame hires about 100 seasonal employees each season and that at this point, hiring needs have been met.

Attendance at the Hall of Fame is on track with previous years, according to Horn.

“We are comparable to where we’ve been in the last two years, at this point through Memorial Day,” Horn said.

Rich Scheckells, the park manager of both Glimmerglass and Betty and Wilbur Davis state parks said he has had no shortage of applicants for his seasonal positions.

“I’ve had no trouble finding people,” Scheckells said about the 26 seasonal positions he had available.

The biggest threat to attendance at the parks is weather, he said. Overall, the parks have seen an increase in camping and use of the cottages, whereas the attendance of the beach and picnic areas has remained the same as last year, Scheckells said.