Rehoboth Beach businesses desperate for employees ahead of peak summer season

As early beachgoers walk the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, businesses are busy getting ready for peak summer season. 

"It is shoulder to shoulder in here during the middle of the summer," said Chris Darr, the Personnel Manager at Funland. 

Funland is an amusement park that’s been going strong on the boardwalk for more than 60 years, and though business has been great, hiring employees can be a little tricky. 

"We have lots of applications coming in, but it’s that problem of if they need housing, they need to stay here at the beach, it’s just not available," said Darr. 

Luckily for Darr, they are able to rent some apartments and subsidize housing for a handful of their employees, including J-1 students who come from overseas to work. 

For smaller businesses like Keith Riley-Spillane at Rehoboth Breeze, that isn’t an option. 

"A lot of the businesses don’t, I don’t have housing for students, but I need help," said Riley-Spillane.

To try and attract employees, he is offering free parking.


A lot of the businesses need help, which is why there’s many storefronts with signs looking for employees, especially since Riley Spillane said the number of available J-1 students is dropping. 

"Hopefully, with the pandemic being behind us, relationships will open up and more J-1 students will come, but they are going to have the issue of finding housing," said Riley-Spillane.

Justin Hawkes the GM of Fisher’s Popcorn just hired his first J-1 student from Thailand, but is still looking for employees. 

"I hire a lot of my employees friends to be honest with you, put the word out, I say hey we are hiring ask around if you know anybody," said Hawkes. 

With many of the previous housing options being converted into AirBNB’s and homes values have skyrocketed, businesses are hoping for some help. 

Darr said, "Is there state funding, is there federal funding, is there something the city can do, everybody needs to come together".