Grocers stock up
on teenaged workers
Teens are some of the county’s hardest workers, according to their bosses at area food stores, which employ more than two dozen of them. Grocery stores in the county hire teen-agers on a regular basis. They work after school and weekends during the school year and as needed in summer.
Although laws limit what they can do, the jobs can be attractive enough that some continue to work there after school.
Niqole Phillips, 18, started at Carlsons’ Grocery in Marion in June 2015, right after her junior year in high school, and continued until January, when she married and moved away. She and her husband, Shane, recently returned to Marion, and she is back on the job full-time.
“I like the customers,” Niqole said. “They were so welcoming when I came back, and Greg Carlson is an awesome boss.”
Carlsons’ Grocery is the biggest employer of teens, with 17, most of whom work on weekends on a rotating basis, co-owner Greg Carlson said.
Alli Hett, 16, a sophomore at Marion High School, began working at Carlsons’ Grocery two months ago. The job gives her a chance to earn spending money.
“It’s nice here,” she said. “It’s a friendly place to work. Customers are pretty nice, and Greg Carlson is a nice boss.”
Teens work cash registers and stock shelves but they can’t operate saws or deli equipment and can’t drive to deliver groceries.
Government regulations and worker’s compensation insurance requirements restrict what high school teens can do, said Jai Crow, co-owner of Peabody Market with her husband, Mike.
Three high school boys are employed at Peabody Market. They run the register and go into the kitchen and make pizza or wrap meat but can’t run fryers or slicers. When they turn 18, even if they are still in high school, restrictions will no longer apply.
“My high school kids are some of my hardest workers,” Crow said. “We are picky about who we hire, and we know who they are. They usually come with recommendations. They are willing to work anytime and can fill in the gaps.”
Grocers said they prefer to hire teens age 16 or older because 14- and 15-year-olds have more restrictions, including not working past 7 p.m.
“They can’t work after 7 p.m.,” Dale Franz at Dale’s Supermarket in Hillsboro said, “but I see where they sometimes are at track meets until 10 p.m.”
He regularly employs four students.
Mitch Carlson said hiring high school students had worked well for Carlsons’ Grocery.
“Sometimes it takes them a while to figure things out, but they usually work out pretty well,” he said. “The sad thing is, when they finally know the ropes, they turn 18 and go on.”