By Laura Keil, Publisher/Editor

I’ve heard some dispiriting accounts of abuse towards frontline staff lately, most notably at the Valemount IGA.

It’s true, our grocery store is in turmoil. Inconsistent supply, shortages of both food and staff. People want answers as to why. People want to pick a recipe and actually find all of the ingredients at the store. People want their grocery list to stop being a Valemount-wide scavenger hunt.

But one thing that is compounding the problem with staff shortages is harassment by customers. I know it’s only a few bad apples among many, many positive people, but unfortunately these episodes are the kind that provoke staff to quit or go on stress leave.

I heard recently that the store has switched to “night stocking,” which is how it sounds: people work at the store in the evenings to restock shelves. One of the benefits is no interactions with customers. I also saw some signs that urge people to “Have Patience.” Yes, they should. But I’d go further: if someone is antagonizing frontline staff, that person should be banned from the store. There are ways to provide feedback and giving heck to tellers and shelf stockers is not the way to do it. Everyone has the ability to stay calm while purchasing groceries. If someone decides not to stay calm, I would then assume that that person has made a decision that laying into a hardworking, low-paid food industry worker is more important than their access to groceries.  

It is heartening when I see management take a stand for their employees. By doing so, they are taking a stand for all of us who depend on them.