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07/07/2021

Labor Shortage Forces Alaska C-store to Shutter

Hammer & Wikan hopes to reopen if it can hire a new manager and workers.

PETERSBURG, Alaska — Family-owned business Hammer & Wikan is forced to close up shop on its convenience store business because of the labor shortage.

Founders John Hammer and Andrew Wikan opened the first Hammer & Wikan store 100 years ago. Over the past century, the business has expanded from a small mercantile selling milk and other dairy products into grocery store, hardware store and convenience store operations.

Now, because of a shortage of workers, the company has been forced to close its convenience store, as well as reduce the hours at its grocery store, reported KFSK.org.

"Yes, this is definitely the time of the year where it is most profitable and actually does a lot of sales, but we felt that the grocery store is the priority currently," Jim Floyd, manager, said. "We are actually having problems staffing that location also and had to limit the hours but for the community it’s a priority."

The Petersburg-based company is currently running newspaper ads seeking workers for both full and part-time positions. It is also looking to hire a new manager and workers to staff the convenience store in hopes to be able to reopen it, according to Floyd.

Floyd noted the workforce shortage isn't only with Hammer and Wikan but is a challenge in 2021.

"It's particular to this year. And so, I've done a lot of phone calls and research and found out it's not just Petersburg, it's the nation, it's Alaska and the rest of the United States," said Floyd. "A lot of people were getting extra money for unemployment even though Alaska ended it [June 12] we haven't seen an influx of people applying. And if you look at the paper, you’ll see that there's a lot of businesses in town currently trying to hire."