Businesses in Branson, Mo. face labor shortages as busy tourist season begins

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 4:25 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 22, 2021 at 6:22 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - Businesses in Branson are struggling to find employees and are worried about the impact on a busy summer tourist season.

Mel’s Hard Luck Diner is one of those businesses having trouble finding employees. General Manager Brandon Norris said he has only had two days off because of how short-staffed.

“Right now we’re closing Sunday evenings to be able to compensate for not having enough people,” General manager Brandon Norris said.

And the level of service they could once give to customers has been impacted as well.

”Everyone has an expectation of what they expect when they go to a restaurant and when you don’t have the number of people that are supposed to be there sometimes the manager that’s supposed to greet you and say thank you and do all those things is also your cook or your dishwasher,“ Norris said.

Norris said many people will apply for jobs, but won’t show up for the interview.

”They’re just using it as a job search so we would schedule an interview and we should just basically come down to say hey just show up tomorrow and have a conversation and if anyone shows up it’s pretty impressive,” Norris said.

Another Branson business, Tuning Element, has been hiring since March, but can’t fill the openings.

”Before the pandemic we’d have anywhere from six to eight employees running four different stores,” Tuning Element Sales Associate Lucas Akers said.

They are down to only one store leaving sales associate, Lucas Akers to pick up the slack.

”Even if that means I work six days a week,” Akers said.

Akers said when the pandemic began they did have to lay off some employees.

”When we started calling people back they just didn’t want to come back, because they’re making more with the unemployment than they were making hourly,” Akers said. ”Be patient and be kind we’re doing the best we can a lot of the variables are out of our control and we’re doing what we can do to keep our businesses open and keep them running.”

Both stores are accepting applications for nearly all positions and said they remain hopeful businesses in the area will make it through this challenging time.

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