Digging Deeper: Eau Claire retail workers have a bright future - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Digging Deeper: Eau Claire retail workers have a bright future

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Eau Claire (WQOW) -- As the old Kmart building in Eau Claire still stands empty and with Gordy's locations closing all summer, some might think it's not a good time to be in retail in the Chippewa Valley. 

So News 18 decided to dig deeper into what the future holds for retail workers in Eau Claire. 

"It's now more convenient to shop online," said Scott Hodek,  the acting chief of office of economic advisers at the Wisconsin Job Center in Eau Claire, "and as that technology keeps advancing, more and more people do it."

Although online sales amount to less than 10 percent of all retail, the trend continues to grow, which means more and more stores stand to close. 

"What they don't realize is, when you're not supporting those local businesses, when you're not spending the money in Eau Claire itself, then that's going to happen," said Dave Minor, president and CEO of the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce

Still, Minor and Hodek said retail workers in Eau Claire are doing just fine. 

"It's certainly never good for anyone losing a job, but the good news is that the job market here is so robust right now and there's so many openings," Hodek said. 

Though not everyone finds a new job at a new store; some decide to begin a new adventure altogether. 

"So even though you might have been in retail, that tells me that you're good with customer service, you're good multi-tasking, all those things," Minor said. "Well, those job skills fit many other opportunities."

"There are a lot of options out there, for those folks, I think we've got a really good support network," Hodek told News 18. 

A big part of that support network is Chippewa Valley Technical College

"They come in wondering and somewhat lost and worried about their future," Margo Keys, Vice President of Student Services at CVTC, said. "And so one of the first things we want to do is help that student feel like 'Hey, this is the right place. You are in the right place.'"

Keys also said anyone ready for a new career can enroll at CVTC and the college will help them find a way to pay for it. 

"They might be in a cohort that's eligible for funds for displaced workers," Keys told News 18. She also said the school's 94% graduate placement rate speaks for itself. 

"Our goal is to help the students get in, get through and get that job," Keys said. 

So, even though Macy's closed its doors in Oakwood Mall and the Kmart building still stands vacant on Clairemont Avenue, retail workers in Eau Claire are up and running and the city is open for business. 

"This is the best time to be in Eau Claire," Minor said, "And this is not the Eau Claire you grew up in." 


Eau Claire (WQOW) - With several closed stores within the last year, it might seem like the retail industry is suffering in Eau Claire, but local job experts said that's not the case.

"It's certainly never good for anyone losing a job, but the good news is the job market here is so robust right now, and there's so many openings," said Scott Hodek, the acting chief of office of economic advisers at the Wisconsin Job Center.

On Monday, Sept. 25, News 18 is digging deeper into the local retail industry to find out what the future holds for some retail workers in Eau Claire.

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