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September 3, 2013

Labor Day is a day of labor for some

For many people, Labor Day provides a day to enjoy late summer by cooking out with family and friends. But they’ve first got to stock up on all the ingredients, and a few people stood ready Monday to make sure everyone else had everything they needed for a gathering.

“We’ve been selling steaks. We’ve been selling a lot of hamburger meat and hot dogs, anything that someone might grill. We haven’t been super busy, but we have had people coming in,” said Renee Barton, one of the owners of Dalton’s Green Spot grocery. “We’ve had a few that were just doing their regular shopping, but most of them were getting stuff to cook out. We’ve probably had a hundred phone calls asking if we were open or what hours we were open. That’s pretty typical for a holiday.”

The Green Spot only closes at Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, so Monday was pretty much an ordinary day for the store.

“We opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 5 p.m. Normally, we close at 7, so our hours are a little bit shorter. But we’ve got our full staff, 18 people,” Barton said. “It’s just a normal working day for us.”

Barton says that making sure their customers are satisfied is one reason the Green Spot opens on most holidays. But she says there was another reason the store was open Monday

“We also have a grocery truck that comes by every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We had to have somebody here to meet the truck, so it just made sense to open the store.”

But not everyone was cooking out Monday. Some people decided that they didn’t want to cook on their day off. Fortunately, many local restaurants opened their doors.

“It has been pretty much like any other Monday,” said Liz Ogle, who works at the Burger Den in Rocky Face.

Workers there got in at 6 a.m. to get ready for the breakfast shift.

“That’s a really busy time for us,” Ogle said.

While most businesses have the option to open or close on holidays, public safety agencies  don’t have that choice.

“People expect protection 24/7,” said Dalton Police Department Sgt. James Goines, morning watch commander. “When I made the decision to get into law enforcement, I knew that would mean working on holidays.”

Goines was one of eight Dalton Police Department officers on patrol Monday, which he says is pretty typical.

“This morning, because of the weather, things were pretty slow. When the sun came out, things got a little busier. Things typically pick up from around noon to the end of our shift, which is 3:45,” he said. “But so far, we haven’t had anything major come up.”

Goines said that not every holiday is so slow.

“The Fourth of July, with fireworks and sometimes some excessive drinking, can be pretty busy. But you can never tell. It’s hard to predict,” he said.

While people enjoy their long holiday weekends, by Monday many of them are ready to get out of the house, so it’s no surprise that Labor Day is also a big shopping day.

“We are having a Labor Day sale with a lot of different doorbuster deals that give people big discounts,” said Zoe Cantrell, sales team manager at Belk at Walnut Square Mall.

On top of that, the store offered numerous “early bird” specials from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We are staffed more heavily than a typical Monday, about 30 percent more, because we know people are going to be out shopping,” Cantrell said. “At this time of the year, for a retail store this size, it’s all about clearance. We are trying to clear out that summer merchandise and make way for the holiday merchandise that is already starting to arrive.”

Malls and retail stores weren’t the only places people were shopping. Some consumers also went out looking for new vehicles Monday.

At Brooker Ford, for instance, the service department was closed. But sales remained open to meet with shoppers.

“We aren’t promoting it (Labor Day) as a major sale. We aren’t doing any additional promotion or advertising. We are looking at it more as a Saturday type of business day,” said General Manager Allen Brooker.

Brooker said the early morning rain seemed to have kept customers away but things were starting to look up by noon.

“We had quite a bit of people stirring around over the weekend, so we expect that now that the sun has come out more people will start coming in,” he said.

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