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Bye Bye Brownie’s: New Brownie’s Market Owners Treat Workers Like Slaves & Up-Charge Customers (Sheffield Lake, OH)

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Brownie’s Market, a deli and convenience store that has a long lasting and rich history in Sheffield Lake as one of the oldest family owned businesses in the city, has officially seen it’s demise.  For generations, the corner store was a go-to for Sheffield Lake residents, even with those who relocated to other cities or states.  Throughout the years, many would come back to visit family and friends and pay a visit to Brownie’s upon their return.  For more than 40 years Brownie’s Market stood proudly on the corner of E. Lake Rd. and for ten’s of thousands the store served as a staunch reminder of their younger days and fond childhood memories.  Some reflected working at Brownie’s or chatting over the morning paper in front of the store with locals, while other’s remember making routine runs for odd’s and end’s at a time when convenience and grocery stores weren’t all that prevalent in the city.  On December 1, 2017, that all changed and the nostalgic Brownie’s as you know it officially wen’t “bye bye”.

Brownie’s Market was sold on December 1, 2017, to Mitsehkumar & Pranita Patel.   Initially, the transitional phase of the new ownership was off to a swell start.   From the outside looking in, the name and integrity of the nearly half a century old business stayed relatively intact.  The new owner’s were extremely friendly, always greeting customers with a warm smile which was accompanied with a polite “thank you and a have a nice day” on the way out.  The same treatment however is not given to their employees…

One woman, a 25 year old married mother of 2 children who was a full-time employee of the Patel’s wen’t through what she classifies as “slave labor”“I literally was told that if I was sick I needed to come in to work.  Even if I had a doctor’s note.  Mind you, I was only sick 1 time and it was the FLU virus that was going around.  The doctor’s at St. John West Shore Hospital directed me to not work for 3 days.  When I told them I was sick with the FLU, they literally told me “Well, you can come in tonight, no?”.  I told them “No, I’m sorry, I’m deathly ill, I have the FLU, a fever, vomiting, coughing, diarrhea and I absolutely shouldn’t and couldn’t work even if I wanted to.”  I tried to explain to them as best as I could, because they don’t speak that good of English being that they are from India.  They then said:  “You come in 6-10 tonight then okay?”  And again I told them umm no I’m sorry I can’t…  Just so you know I hadn’t missed any days prior to having the FLU, was always on time, worked extra hours than initially agreed upon, worked for less than initially agreed upon and the moment that I was incapable of working they discarded me and treated me as nothing more than a slave during the process.  They then lectured me on the second day of being sick after I had called and let them know that I was willing to come in – even though I still felt horrible… “Because of you, we had to be here 24/7, because of you, because you were sick, so just don’t bother coming in anymore.”  And that was the moment that I was essentially discarded like a piece of trash (by being fired) and that made me feel like I was used, manipulated and really not treated fairly or with an civility whatsoever.

To make matters even worse, they didn’t give me my paycheck that was owed without a fight.  It got to the point where they were ignoring my phone calls for days on end, going on more than a week and so I finally had to have my husband get involved.  If not for him I don’t think I would have been paid.  Once he finally got in touch with them they would tell him “She will have her check tomorrow” and then tomorrow would never come.  More than a week went on of missed dates for my check and I really began to think they were just going to stiff me.

At the end of my work experience there I would say that they came across initially as really friendly and genuine people.  They told me when I had my second child that “If you ever need anything just ask“, maybe I thought they meant time off for my child in the event I needed to take him to a doctor or maybe even an advance (I was assuming and I assumed incorrectly).  They had just had a baby as well and around almost the same time that my husband and I had ours, so I thought perhaps they were kind, loving & family oriented people.  In the end, however, I realized that it was nothing more than the same ploy that they use on their customers.  Smile in your face, manipulate the product prices, the wages, the hours & laugh straight to the bank.  They don’t want to work their store, they would prefer to pay someone minimum wage, full-time, late hours (closing hours 12am & 1am) all by yourself.  Doing the task of essentially 2 or 3 people for the payment and wage of 1 in a slightly risky area at that (especially when closing).  As a result of me being sick for 3 days and willing to work on my second day of sickness, I am now without a job…

Worker’s woes aren’t the only issues that have been brought up from local residents however.  Even though the title of this article may give off the appearance that every customer still loves Brownie’s like the good ole day’s, that sentiment isn’t reflected with everyone.  Tina Marie Kristoff complained that one of the cashiers threw her gatorade on the ground and told her to go get another one. While Michael Rogers (a long time resident of Sheffield Lake) doesn’t like how the new owners removed the bench and trash can from outside of the building. He remembers the day’s where you used to be able to sit, eat ice cream or congregate with neighbors over a cup of coffee. No longer the same friendly atmosphere that it once was.  And then there’s Shane Brandonio. Who (like many) feel the store isn’t as clean as it should be and that the owner’s talk about you behind your back in another language.

COBRA Says:  It’s safe to say “Bye Bye Brownie’s”…

Not So Fun Fact:  Ohio has no ill-will law.  Meaning an employee can fire you for pretty much any reason that they want, regardless if you have a doctors note or not.  However, most companies are understanding that their employees will get sick and have family related emergencies.

The Bottom Line

SCUMBAGGED Tip:  As if the aforementioned isn’t bad enough, checking out the prices at the newly owned Brownie’s show’s increased prices, in some cases by as much as 20% upticks from the old owner’s.  Best advice in this scenario… Shop elsewhere.  These are two greedy & grubby owners that are apparently only after maximum profits, which means less money in your pocket for a product you can purchase for cheaper almost anywhere else and less money for the worker’s they employ (someone in your community getting stiffed).

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