Short-Staffed, LaVerde’s Delays Return to 24 Hrs.

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LaVerde’s Market, located on the first floor of the Student Center, will delay its return to 24-hour service because of a worker shortage.
Alex Chan—The Tech

LaVerde’s Market will delay its return to 24-hour service indefinitely due to the departure of key night shift workers over the summer, according to General Manager Marc Semon.

LaVerde’s current operating hours are 6:30 a.m. to midnight on weekdays, and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. The only on-campus convenience store location offering later hours is MacGregor Convenience, open until 2 a.m. on weekdays, according to the Campus Dining Web site.

Semon said he is working to hire more employees, and expects to resume around-the-clock operations once help is available. “We’ll open when we get the people,” he said.

Worker shortage notwithstanding, the unsteady trickle of customers early in the semester deters LaVerde’s from offering around-the-clock service until classes and student routines have stabilized, according to Semon. Last year, the switch to 24-hour service occurred on Sept. 17.

This year, students should not expect full-time operation much before that date. “In the first few weeks of school, business is all over the place,” Semon said. “If [new hires] hopped in the door today, I still couldn’t be open 24 hours right away.”

Undergraduate Association President Martin H. Holmes ’08 said the UA is aware of the situation at LaVerde’s but has not yet received any formal complaints about the store’s truncated hours. “It’s their business, so hopefully they can sort it out first without getting [the UA] involved,” Holmes said.

Holmes emphasized the importance of having a store open late on campus. “MIT is sort of a nocturnal environment,” Holmes said. “People work late in Athena clusters and their labs. We need some type of 24 hour service.”

Of the employees that left this summer, two were night shift workers, according to Semon. Burnout and personal reasons were cited as causes for their departure. “I see it every year,” Semon said. “Retail’s a tough business. You go through a lot of people.”

Accompanying the summer melt of workers was a reorganization of the store that introduced wider aisles and more open space in front of the cash register. This, in addition to a streamlined coffee and bagel counter, new hot food offerings, and an updated selection are some of the first changes to be realized under 660 Corporation’s new stewardship of LaVerde’s, Semon said. 660 Corporation bought the store from original owner Frank LaVerde in 2006.

The workers’ departures were unrelated to the change in ownership, according to Semon. In contrast, 660 Corporation has “infused a lot of excitement into the place,” Semon said. “They’ve pumped money back into the business.”

Holmes praised the store’s new layout and cleaner feel. “Last year, it was the biggest pain on Earth to get through the aisles,” he said. “They have definitely made some positive changes.”

As of Sept. 4, no one has responded to the “Now Hiring” sign posted in the front door, Semon said, though he remains optimistic that LaVerde’s will eventually be able to offer 24-hour service again.

LaVerde’s Market, a convenience store with prepared food and coffee stations, began offering 24-hour service during the 2004 spring semester, according to Semon. Last year, the store operated continuously from 7 a.m. on Sundays to midnight on Fridays, from late September through the end of finals week. LaVerde’s remains the only on-campus retailer in recent memory to establish a 24-hour presence as a service to students.