When we first opened The Root Cellar in 2008, one of my biggest fears wasn’t that no customers would come, it was that no staff would come.  We were so proud of what we’d made, WE wanted to shop there so we were certain that others would too, but my imposter syndrome flared when it came to hiring… Why would anyone want to work for US?  Was the loop I fell fitfully asleep to many nights as we prepared to open. 

I’ve never been more ecstatic to be wrong (just ask Adam, I don’t come to it gracefully). And I was SO wrong.  We scarcely had to advertise, people just came, they just wanted to be part of what we were doing, they shared our enthusiasms for local food, for sustainable business, and for brightening our customer’s day with our efforts and interactions.  People felt good working for us.  As our reputation grew, both our recruiting and our retention became easier and easier.  It has been incredibly rewarding as an entrepreneur to attract people with shared values, and to have so many of them stay long term, growing with us through it all.

But now, things have changed. We are navigating a national (global?) labour shortage. There are nearly 1 million job openings across Canada currently. You can learn all of the theories why online, and you can learn about the suggested solutions of ‘lower your standards, expect less, integrate technology’ ….  but what I want to talk about is Why should we?  (stay with me!)

Our business thrives largely due to our high standards.  Ethical practices don’t make you more money, neither do our sustainability protocols or our food waste recovery efforts.  Sourcing from 200+ suppliers takes more time and effort than buying from few larger warehouses, as does paying these vendors.  We could put less effort into culture, into our engagement with you, we could stop contributing to the community,  we could stop hiring musicians, we could throw more food in the compost, we could skip washing the solar panels so they generate more energy, we could let the line ups get longer, we could cut corner after corner after corner in the interest of needing fewer staff. But then who are we? And why would you bother shopping here?

These values are WHO WE ARE.

Our initial business plan MAY have actually said ‘we want to have our cake and eat it too.’  Because who wants to ‘just sell groceries?’ certainly not us.  We wanted to feel good about what we were doing.  We want to make an impact, we want to strengthen the locally economy, we want to increase our islands’ agricultural sustainability, we want to leave the smallest footprint possible, and to set an example for other business owners that you can do it right and still be successful, we want people to want to be part of this, both customers and staff, to be proud to shop and work here.

So WHERE ARE YOU? Where did you go? And can we talk?

We have currently have some very exciting leadership opportunities. There are a handful of us wearing too many hats as we wait to find the right people for these roles, we’re getting tired, but we don’t want to lower our standards.

We have many applicants, which apparently we should be celebrating, but we want YOU. You, who got excited when you read this, who thought, man wouldn’t that be cool, being proud to go to work, making a difference, feeding people.  It’s basic, feeding people, but it is THE base of our survival, it is what connects us as humans, it is a fluency shared by every global citizen, imagine being a part of making that better?  I can’t wait to meet you.