Local store manager positively impacted by students

Maya Fridman, Staff Writer

Paint the Town during Homecoming week and marching band playing instruments through the aisles of Sunset Foods are two ways Bruce Gonzalez, Sunset Foods store manager, has observed the meaningful impact Glenbrook North students create on the Northbrook community.

Gonzalez said the student employees are very optimistic, which translates to the customers. He said he has many customers comment on how polite certain student employees are.

Once Gonzalez had a 15-year-old employee who started to work at the store and had not had his growth spurt yet. Gonzalez said all of the customers thought he was very cute. The student left shortly after he was hired to focus on running track for school.

When the student returned to Sunset, the customers wanted to go through his line again and would say things to him like, “Oh, we missed you,” and, “It’s so good to have you back,” Gonzalez said.

“That’s what you want,” said Gonzalez. “You want [student employees] to become part of the store, part of Northbrook.”

When determining which potential student employees to hire, Gonzalez said previous experience is not very important. He encourages the student to grow within the job because Sunset is often an entry-level job. Independence, honesty and being open to conversation are qualities that Gonzalez finds more important than experience.

High school employees typically start at $9.50 an hour, at the age of 15, and are encouraged to learn more about various jobs offered at Sunset Gonzalez said. As they gain more experience their pay increases. Students age 16 and older usually make $10.40 an hour.  Gonzalez said the more students learn, the more their pay will increase.

“Minimum wage is a guideline,” said Gonzalez. “We’re nowhere near the guideline.”

Gonzalez said student employees can receive a dollar raise a month after they are hired because they take on jobs with more responsibilities, such as a cashier.

“I’ve always enjoyed the high school kids,” said Gonzalez. “They have a different look at how life is.”