Labor Day in Summit County: A mixed bag
Summit County, Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY – Labor Day is no time to be idle, agreed five Summit County locals spanning the spectrum of employment.
Whether they own a business, have numerous part-time jobs or are even unemployed, Summit County workers said Monday’s day of rest was no time to dilly dally. It’s when stores had tent sales, visitors cruised around on rental bikes and couples strolled hand-in-hand while picking a place to dine.
“I’m happy the tourists are coming,” said London Schertzer, owner of London’s Espresso and Smoothie Bar on Frisco’s Main Street. “I don’t quite get the whole Labor Day thing.”
Schertzer should know – she labors all the time. She said she has five very part-time jobs that keep her afloat. Though that means a lot of hard work in a non-traditional setting, her pay off is not sitting behind a desk.
“We’re lucky,” she said.
Typically for locals, holidays in Summit County mean money, not rest. Most of the community’s business earnings occur during the winter months, especially around Christmas and the New Year.
Dave Verschure, an owner of Abby’s Coffee in Frisco, said: “We pretty much work all holidays. There’s no days off as a business owner (in Summit County). No bank holidays. It’s fine with me.”
And Emma Hirsch, the 23-year-old owner of Hair Harmonies Salon in Frisco, said during the busy season she works up to six days a week, 12 hours a day.
“It’s totally different in the mountains than everywhere else,” Hirsch said. “I never really celebrate Labor Day, and I was actually trying to work on Labor Day but my clients made me take (it) off.”
Hirsh also noted an up side to the recession – “People aren’t going to be giving their money to people who aren’t giving quality work,” she said, adding that everyone is working harder, stepping up to challenges and delivering the goods.
With the national jobless rate nearing almost 10 percent, and Colorado’s unemployment rate hovering around 7.8 percent in July, Summit County has seen its share of the recession’s effects. Food bank use in the county is up sharply, food stamp applications are on the rise, and unemployment benefits are being relied upon for daily survival.
Why? Businesses have closed or contracted, employers aren’t hiring or they’re keeping empty positions open, and in some cases people have been out of work for months. Ashley Dickson – a local journalist laid off seven months ago – is a good example. After months without finding another job, she recently employed a career counselor to help her find her niche.
“I really want to stay in the county, but I also want a career job,” Dickson said, noting that this desire isn’t lining up with the current job market as of now. Though she was hesitant to consult a career counselor at first, she said it’s a good thing because she’s learning how to market herself and “a new set of eyes is always good.”
Dan Monoco, a former bike mechanic from Breckenridge’s Great Adventure Sports, has been out of work since June.
The bike store closed in early July, Monoco said, adding that he wasn’t sure what was going on until the very end.
“I went initially in June looking for work and it wasn’t that great,” Monoco said. “I put resumes all over the place. People said they’d love to have me, but they don’t have the work load.”
So, Monoco sat back and re-evaluated his situation: “I knew going into the job search that it was going to be a challenge,” he said, even after 12 years in the industry, five of them being at Great Adventure.
So, he kept his eyes open and for the first time in years spent a summer relaxing, and riding his bike – a free activity, he said.
But, after multiple months of unemployment, things are looking up for the bike mechanic. He’s going to make snow for the resort and a new bike store guaranteed him a position once it opens up.
“It’s kind of funny just working up here,” Monoco said, explaining that he’s always worked during the Labor Day holiday weekend. The holiday weekend was always a good time to get rid of the last summer stock, he said.
“I’m enjoying the holiday,” Monoco concluded. “Though it’s a little bit different this year.”
Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at email@example.com.