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Staffing shortages? Not for one Northeast Ohio business

Posted at 10:27 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 23:44:53-05

CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — For 90 years, Geiger’s has been the stop for Northeast Ohioans looking for outdoor clothing and gear.

“We treat our staff like family. I'm third generation. We have a fourth generation—my son John works for us,” said Gordon Geiger, co-owner of Geiger’s.

Geiger’s has both a store in Chagrin Falls and one in Lakewood, and Geiger said retaining employees is a priority—one that so far seems to be working out well.

“We are passionate about the outdoors, and we're passionate about the ski business and snow sports business that we're involved with, and people that like to be around that aren't that hard to come by,” Geiger said.

For months, we’ve seen headlines about staffing shortages across a number of industries. Now, during the holiday season, some retailers are looking for ways to fill the gaps and add new workers in a tight labor market.

At Geiger’s, though, despite what’s happening in other industries or at other businesses, Geiger said they’re doing just fine when it comes to staffing.

“We'd like to have a few more people, but we're managing quite well,” Geiger said.

Alex Boehnke, manager of public affairs for the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, said the organization hasn’t been “hearing of any widespread issues” when it comes to staffing shortages.

“Our members really started preparing for this, actually, several months ago, and I think that's helped offset some of the problems,” Boehnke said.

Boehnke said that “workforce issues predate the pandemic,” although the pandemic has “certainly exacerbated those challenges.”

He also noted that staffing challenges aren’t unique to the retail industry. But with such a tight labor market, he said many retailers are taking steps to keep employees or bring new ones on board. That might mean offering incentives, such as sign-on bonuses, higher wages or other benefits.

“I think retailers are really going above and beyond to try to attract the workers that they need right now,” Boehnke said.

Geiger said at his stores, they’ve given some raises to keep people and to stay competitive. But for workers who love the outdoors, Geiger said there are other perks.

“Skiing privileges at ski areas,” Geiger said. “Those are nice things to offer our staff. They’re passionate about the sport, so those are small incentives that we can offer.”

With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, Geiger’s is open seven days a week. Geiger told News 5 that all merchandise online is in one of the stores and can be picked up curbside.

Despite supply-chain delays for some of the apparel Geiger’s sells, the co-owner said the shelves are well-stocked.

“We still have plenty of things to buy for gifts, if people are still looking,” Geiger said.

Olivia Fecteau is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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