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Employee shortage now impacting Flathead Valley non-profits

Flathead ReStore
Flathead County Unemployment March
Flathead County Unemployment March
Posted at 3:52 PM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 18:02:30-04

KALISPELL — "We're Hiring" signs are becoming commonplace for businesses in western Montana as we continue to battle a worker shortage.

This comes as the state's unemployment rate declines marking the third consecutive month of lower unemployment rates.

To put things in perspective, Montana's overall unemployment at this time is 3.8% while the jobless numbers in the Flathead have fallen from 6.3% in February to 5.6%, in March.

There are now 2,714 unemployed workers in Flathead County but businesses -- including non-profits -- are struggling to find workers.

While MTN has covered the employee shortage in Flathead County, now we're going to look at what it's done for one business in particular.

Habitat for Humanity's ReStore has closed its donation center as there are not enough workers to staff it.

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a consignment shop where those with financial instability can find good quality home wares in the Flathead Valley,

“We're able to give the opportunity for someone to own a piece of furniture that they may not be able to own on a conventional method,” said ReStore manager Adam Tunnell.

Flathead County Unemployment March

“I love coming here for chairs, throw pillows, artwork,” said Emily Crawford who has been coming to ReStore to fill her new home with slightly used items.

Crawford said she's impressed by the large inventory of the store, "they are now full of donations."

But that will not last long. Tunnell says very soon options could run out -- at least, temporarily -- until they can hire more people.

“Due to staffing issues, we've had to suspend donations. I haven't had the staff that's able to provide the ability to accept the donations and process them and then be able to do load-outs for sold items,” said Tunnell.

Instead of closing completely, Tunnell had to make a tough choice.

Flathead County Unemployment March

“I just made the decision to keep the restore open to keep things working and keep it available for sales for the community,” said Tunnell.

Tunnell is hopeful that once he has the three open positions filled, donation operations can go back to normal.

“Once we do get back to 100% staffing, we will restart the truck routes and we will get back up to 100% operation,” said Tunnell.

Tunnell is encouraging the community to come to ReStore first before a big box store because with every $100 earned, will build one-square foot of someone’s bedroom in the Habitat for Humanity builds.

Tunnell says ReStore is currently going through many applications and interviews to fill the empty positions, but if you would like to volunteer you can visit their website here.