As you scramble to the store for some last minute necessities or call in dinner to keep your distance, you may not realize the manpower it takes to keep you at home. While business closures across the county have forced some employers to send workers packing, others are desperate for a helping hand.
Last week, pandemic-produced shutdowns saw millions of people leave their jobs unemployed or with their wages severely curtailed. Yet for critical services like grocery shops, big-box stores, and yes, even pizza delivery chains, COVID-19 means a spike in demand.
Nationally, some of America’s biggest retail employers have gone on a hiring spree. Walmart announced last Thursday that it will take on 150,000 new employees until the end of May. Likewise, Amazon has opened 100,000 full and part-time positions throughout the U.S.
And Santa Barbara isn’t any different.
Facing the loss of five student employees and a growing workload, Sprouts at 175 N. Fairview Ave. is hoping to hire as many temporary employees as possible.
“It’s just really busy right now,” a Sprouts worker said. “We have to sanitize everything and there’s a lot more customers. I think we’re trying to hire as many as we can.”
For those interested in a position with Sprouts, the best way to apply is online at sprouts.com under the “Careers” tab.
Likewise, Trader Joe’s is welcoming new blood. Though all three of the Santa Barbara County locations are open to additional help, the 222 N. Milpas St. site is actively looking with job postings open on traderjoes.com/careers.
“We go through hundreds of applicants a day,” said Chris Gray, the Milpas St. location store leader. “We don’t necessarily have a set number (of potential hires). We haven’t lost too many employees due to the virus, but our workload is increasing.
“Due to the social distancing, we have limited traffic. But we’ll be paying attention to sales and store staff to determine how many we need to hire because the amount of products that are coming in has increased.”
Other larger chains are also on the hunt. Target’s Santa Barbara location at 3891 State St. hopes to add five to seven employees in the near future. The chain’s Goleta site at 6865 Hollister Ave. wants to do one better, welcoming around 20 to 30 new team members.
“We’re hiring in all areas of the store,” said Kelli Nassif, the store’s manager. “The workload has increased in essential departments like health and beauty, grocery, and chemical, but we’ve seen an overall increase in sales and traffic.”
Yet, specific numbers will depend on how many students come back to Santa Barbara next week after spring break. In the wake of UCSB’s move to remote instruction earlier this month, the store was left wondering how much of their primarily student-based workforce would return.
“We have a huge student population (at our location),” said Ms. Nassif. “Most of the students that we employ are all going home because of the university closing.”
With this in mind, Target is doing all it can to fill the vacancies among growing demands. In fact, the retailer announced on Friday it was raising pay for employees in stores across all locations by $2 an hour.
To work at Target, applications can be found at target.com/careers. Interviews will also be conducted over the phone in light of the ongoing countywide social distancing order.
Other big-box retailers like Costco at 7095 Market Pl. couldn’t comment on whether additional employees were needed at this time, they did urge those looking for work to apply at costco.com/jobs.
The search for assistance has even trickled down to delivery services that are in demand now more than ever. Pizza chains in particular have seen their sales surge nationwide as people hunker down at home.
Locally, Domino’s at 955 Embarcadero Del Mar is looking for seven to 10 new members. While Domino’s throughout the county are conducting business as usual, their Isla Vista location was left in a lurch after college students vacated the area.
“We’ve lost seven or eight employees, and all of them were students,” said Jacqueline Bolanco, the site’s store manager. “We’ve also seen an increase in sales. Deliveries are in higher demand, which leaves us even more shorthanded because a lot of the people left were drivers.”
In the market for more full-time employees, the store asks anyone interested to apply online at jobs.dominos.com.