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Chambers of commerce ask for patience while facing another summer of staffing shortages

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In the spring of 2020, when businesses in Northern Michigan began to reopen under COVID-19 restrictions, local chambers of commerce around the region started distributing posters to local businesses with the message: be patient, be kind.

The message of the campaign was that businesses were struggling not only with COVID-19, but with staffing shortages. It asked visitors and customers to understand that businesses were doing their best with less and to expect longer wait times and adjusted hours.

While COVID-19 restrictions have lifted, businesses continue to face staffing shortages, so the chambers are once again asking for understanding as they head into the busy summer season.

“We wanted to be upfront with those that were coming to enjoy their vacation time in our beautiful area,” said Petoskey Area Chamber of Commerce President Nikki Devitt.

“And so we came up with ‘We are doing our best with less’ campaign and just really came right out and said it, that the area is experiencing a regional staffing shortage and that’s going to cause maybe longer wait times. And so we’re grateful that you’re visiting us, but also ask you to just be patient and be kind while you’re here.”

Other chambers in the area soon picked up the campaign as well and the posters can now be seen at businesses throughout the region.

Parkside Deli, at 313 Howard St., has one of the Petoskey chamber's "We are doing our best with less" campaign posters for customers to see when they walk in.

Many businesses displayed the posters as a way to set expectations for customers before they walked in and some of those businesses have continued to display the posters throughout the year.

In Charlevoix, the chamber first distributed posters in May 2020 asking visitors to mask up, wash their hands and comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The following spring, many of those restrictions had been lifted so the chamber distributed new posters with a message similar to Petoskey’s: “Be patient. Be kind. We are doing our best with less.”

“I think the message was really resonating with (business owners) because they were having to deal with so much uncertainty with masking and what patrons were going to do and how they were going to act,” said Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce President Sarah Van Horn.

“It was good for everyone to have a cohesive messaging so that when people were in Charlevoix, they saw the same message, the same graphic pretty much everywhere they went to really nail it home that we were hoping that they would act that way.”

According to Devitt, the Petoskey chamber will be reprinting the posters again this year for anyone who wants one. They will also push the message on social media.

Van Horn said the Charlevoix chamber will not reprint the posters but will continue to push the message on social media, radio and news articles.

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