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When you have been in business for a while it can be fun to look back. And sometimes not so fun.

As I celebrate my 36th year in business this November, I was talking to one of my favorite female clients. I have know her for a long time and known her husband since I was 16, before I was out of high school and while he was in University with my older brother. I mentioned that one of my employees was pregnant and that over the years I have had a lot of staff pregnant as they worked for me. So she said I should right a blog about it, so here it is.

From my early days on 8th avenue not much happened when I did not have many employees. But then with Bow Valley Square and Sunridge Mall followed by Eaton Center and now in Bridgeland, I have had a lot of employees. I can’t confess to remembering all of them. I worked with some for years and have great memories of lifecycle events. I feel very lucky that so few tragic events occurred in 36 years. But there were a few and those I am not going to bring up.

I still have all of the payroll books I ever had from all the way back to 1980. When I reviewed them for this blog a ton of memories came back. Some of the people that moved on and some that still come in to say hello years later, all seem to be memories of such a short time ago. Or some seem so clear in my memory because they helped to perform incredible gags on the staff in a practical joke.

Of course, there were some that became good friends and some that moved on and I never heard from them again. I wonder what became of them. I have had some move to opposite coasts to forge a new life for their families, fed up with the ups and downs of Alberta’s economy. And that was in the ’80’s and 90’s, so not much has changed in that respect.

I recalled that to try to get our name out in the public, I used to set up at the Stampede grounds flea market. Almost every Sunday for a year and a half I was there selling chains and rings, off of a fold up table and some velvet. I can still remember the hot item that I kept getting requests for. I was hearing nobody in town was carrying them. They were gold chain anklets. I think my first few Sunday flea markets I sold about 20 a day. That was my first lesson in supply and demand. Also a lesson in fads and how they can fizzle and leave you with a lot of extra items that may not be able to sell any longer.

In any case, I did a tally of the people that worked for me and where they landed in their careers. These were people that carried on with their studies as they worked for me. I am sure I have missed a few but from the ones I did look back at, this is somewhat accurate. Hey, after 36 years, the memory gets clouded, so I get a bit of leeway. Here is the rough tally:

  • one chef
  • one butcher
  • one baker
  • two lawyers (if you stopped here it almost sounds like the start of a joke)
  • three assistant bank managers
  • two senior office administrators
  • two gemologists
  • two hair stylists
  • two jewellery store manager/owners
  • five social workers
  • one interior designer
  • four teachers

And those are the ones I know about for sure.

And the last tally, because they were most important and frankly, the hardest to deal with were the pregnant staff. Hardest to deal with not because they were pregnant and forced me to eat with them so I would gain weight (I thought that was only maternitysupposed to happen to the Fathers). But because when it is a small business, maintaining staff and keeping a spot open can be a challenge. Through it all I managed to survive 14 babies born to staff members. Some of these women went on to be fulltime Mother’s, which I think can be one of the most challenging careers, and some went on to other careers while maintaining a home with children.

The question I was asked in conjunction with this tally was, “would I change things if I could?” Absolutely, I would change some things but I won’t tell you which things!

Thank you to everyone for 36 years. So far!

David Blitt


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