As many businesses face staffing shortages due to COVID-19, one Christina Lake grocer celebrated his staff’s hard work over the summer by handing out $30,000 in employee bonuses.
Jean-Marc Pesant and his son Pierce took over the Huckleberry Mountain Market, at 1720 Sandner Frontage Rd., at the beginning of June, kicking off a busy tourist season at the store that sells everything from baked bread and produce to liquor.
“You go through a very busy season in Christina Lake in June, July and August and you deserve to be rewarded for completing that trek,” Pesant, Sr. told The Gazette.
The bonuses went out after the Labour Day weekend when his roughly 25-person staff got cheques ranging between $100 and $2,000, depending on seniority and time served over the summer.
But Pesant said he wasn’t simply paying a premium on their hard work — the extra cash was a long-term investment in keeping them on board.
“I’d been telling employees throughout the summer because I wanted them to stick around,” he said. “They all knew they were getting bonuses, but they were surprised at how big they were.”
“I had tears in my eyes. I just couldn’t believe it,” baker Lynda Fletcher told The Gazette, adding that she’d been at the store nine years.
The same was true for meat cutter Mick Trodden, now in his 11th year.
“It makes you feel proud, being acknowledged for your hard work,” he said.
The store is fully staffed as they head into the fall season, but Pesant said he had a very difficult time finding staff over the summer and earlier in the pandemic when people were receiving the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Unlike the CERB, Pesant said after-summer bonuses at Huckleberry Mountain Market will outlast the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Why not?” Pesant said. “These people work hard.”
Fletcher said she’ll put her bonus toward an Alaska cruise next fall, when she hopes to set sail with her daughter and daughter-in-law. Trodden said he’ll use his share to fly to Victoria to see his grandchildren next week.