When Jennifer Baerg Steyn officially took over ownership of Yellowknife Book Cellar in January she told Yellowknifer, “There’s a lot to take on.”
Most days she worked the floor until 7 p.m. and all weekend, too, balancing her ownership duties and fill in staffing — regardless, she said she was happy with how things were progressing and even considered extending the store’s hours.
However, after months of dealing with harassment and street crime, Baerg Steyn has made the decision to close the Cellar an hour earlier each day at 6 p.m.
“While we have had all forms of harassment at all hours of business, I am particularly concerned with the times when we have only one or two staff people at night,” said Baerg Steyn, adding, “no one should go to work worried about their safety,”
This could mean a loss of business of up to 20 per cent, and significantly narrows the retail window for 9-5 workers.
The Cellar’s staff been a target for belligerent intoxicated passersby, inappropriate sexual comments, and “then last night the presentation of a weapon.”
The incident was reported to police.
“I do not think we are unique in this experience of increasing tension with a percentage of the Yellowknife community we just happen to be unique in both the environment and the ability to respond.”
It definitely has put a pin in her plan to open on Sundays in June, as there’s usually only one staff member on Sundays.
“I hope that in bringing this to the forefront that there is more social engagement to find holistic methods of meditation and care, not just because we are hoping to welcome tourists but locals also need to feel safe.”