Nancy Edmonds Hanson
Hornbacher’s and Cashwise supermarkets are inviting restaurant and others laid off by the COVID-19 pandemic to join them while they are off work.
“Our stores are super-busy, and we need all hands,” Hornbacher’s president Matt Leiseth told the Extra. “We know that lots of people whose hours have been cut are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and we want to help. As community members, this is the right thing for us to do.”
Although the closure of restaurants and bars in Minnesota has hit Moorhead hospitality workers especially hard, the offer is open to all, including anyone displaced from schools and businesses that have cut back their hours or temporarily closed. Although the situation is different in North Dakota (as of this writing), the invitation extends to Hornbacher’s and Cashwise operations in Fargo and West Fargo. Both supermarket chains are owned by Coborn’s Inc. of St. Cloud, Minnesota.
“We can complete temporary hires real quick,” the Moorhead native says. “If you join us, we’re willing to keep you until your job comes back. And who knows? If you like working here, who knows? We’re not going to tell you to go away afterwards.”
Like so many area businesses, Hornbacher’s stores were already seeking to fill open slots when the novel coronavirus pandemic reached the area. Health Department recommendations have accelerated that situation. “Some of our employees in the high-risk category may need to take time off for social distancing,” Leiseth noted. That category includes older people and those with chronic health conditions. “This will help balance that out.”
The supermarkets, considered essential businesses, have taken other measures to prevent spreading the highly infectious virus. For one thing, their 24-hour schedule has been adjusted to from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. “Closing the stores overnight gives our employees time to wipe them down from top to bottom. We suggest that first thing in the morning is a good time for customers who are at high risk to do their shopping.”
Customers observed the first sign that Hornbacher’s was taking the new threat very seriously last week, when complimentary doughnut holes and coffee – an iconic part of the shopping experience – disappeared from the bakery counter. Since then, self-service salad and soup counters have been closed, along with seating at Caribou coffee areas.
Another change: The antibacterial wipe dispensers have disappeared from the cart pickup area. “They’re almost impossible to get now,” Leiseth notes. “Instead, our employees disinfecting the carts as they come back into the store.” Bottles of hand sanitizer spray are freely available at all check-out counters for use by cashiers.
Word of the temporary hirings went out Monday with a post on Facebook. By that afternoon, calls and messages were pouring in.
“We’re not trying to steal anybody else’s people,” Leiseth emphasizes. “We’re just opening the door at this very difficult time. For now, if you need some hours, we’ve love to have you join our team.”
Hornbacher’s, Cashwise: ‘Join our teams as temps’