We're all getting a little bit grumpy. We've had enough of messy hair from heavy stocking caps and squished toes from always wearing two pairs of socks. We're over the slippery dance, scraping windows and burning cheeks from the icy wind. This winter thing has gone on far long enough.
Just the other day, a woman came into my office with a bit of a strange look on her face. As she reached to tug her gloves tighter on her hands, she said perhaps the cold is getting to her brain. When she stepped out of her car, she found herself listening for the Christmas music that the city plays downtown during the holidays. Oh honey, this is much colder than it ever got at Christmas time.
And it doesn't look like Mother Nature is in any hurry to crank up the thermostat. The extended forecast keeps us below freezing through at least the middle of March. Doesn't she know spring arrives on March 20? That means the temperature should be at least above 32 degrees, right? The ever-popular Farmer's Almanac predicts spring will take its sweet time coming and when it does finally arrive, temperatures are likely to be cooler than normal across much of the U.S.
Well I think a couple of gals at the bank had a great idea to warm things up. What if we all opened our doors and let a little heat out? All at once — let's just say at noon on Friday — we open the front door of our home or business for one whole minute and we'll see if we gain a degree or two.
Meanwhile, bundle up.
Being a business owner or manager
in small-town Nebraska isn't easy.
Anyone who says it is, likely just wants
to convince themselves.
So what keeps you up at night? I don't
mean the chili dog you ate for lunch, the
neighbor's barking dog or the dripping faucet left on just a little to keep pipes from freezing in this never-ending winter. I mean, what occupies your business mind before you fall asleep?
With an unemployment rate below 3%, finding and keeping good workers has to be one answer. Warm bodies is one thing. Folks who fit into the team and are trustworthy is another. If you're hiring, let me know. You'd be amazed at the number of people who call my office asking about available jobs. While the Chamber is not a job service, I like to be helpful wherever I can. I can't help if I don't know what's out there. The Chamber website also has a classified ads section where members can post jobs for free. If you need help with that, let me know.
The need to recruit employees can be related to an overwhelming workload for owners and managers who pick up extra duties just to keep the boat afloat. Trying to juggle customer service while also handling the bookkeeping, marketing and cleaning the toilets can quickly lead to burnout. I'm not saying I will come clean your toilets, but the Chamber may have some ways to help ... or at least some ideas to share.
Then there's that little aspect of work-life balance. You want the business to be successful. You NEED the business to be successful so you do what it takes. And it probably feels like you're always trying to come up with the next best thing to make a bigger profit. It doesn't take long before you find yourself feeling drained and detached. It may seem like "just one more thing to do," but getting involved in a Chamber committee or attending an event might be just what you need to refuel. Networking with other business men and women who feel your pain could possibly bring about a magic connection and one or more solutions.
So, what keeps you awake at night? If you're willing to share those thoughts, your Chamber is willing to work toward a solution.
I would be lying if I said I haven't fretted ... A LOT ... since the announcement that Gothenburg's Shopko Hometown store will be closing in May. It's a blow to our community to lose a retail business that can't be easily replaced, and it comes on the heels of the Baldwin plant closure. It feels like another sucker punch to the gut.
Our Shopko Hometown began as a Pamida store, built from scratch in 2009. At the time, it was one of the Omaha-based company’s 193 stores in 17 states. In 2012, the Pamida company merged with Shopko Stores Inc., and our Pamida transitioned to Shopko Hometown, re-opening under the new brand just before Christmas of that year.
In the past six years, we've become accustomed to having a large retail outlet right here for a last-minute birthday gift, supplies for a class project or a replacement for the coffee pot that brewed its last java. We've also likely made friends with the employees — the customer service rep who helped us find the baby Tylenol, the shelf stocker who loaded the bookcase into our car and the cashier who reminded us about our coupons.
That's all about to change. And it's scary. But don't lose hope.
Community leaders and city officials are already exploring options. We were proactive with the Baldwin building, putting measures in place quickly to be able to market the facility ourselves and attract the "right fit." No doubt the same dedication will hold true for Shopko.
In the meantime, be a little extra kind to the folks working at Shopko through May 5. They were not the decision makers in the process to close this store. And they're facing the last months of a job on top of listening to customers lament about the closing.
Show some love to the other retailers in town too. We want to keep our charming shops and our personal service, but you have to shop local to keep local. It might require more energy than a keyboard click followed by a package delivery, but the customer service and relationships you get in return will be well worth it.
is the Executive Director of the Community Development Office, which encompasses the Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce and the Gothenburg Improvement Company.