Op-Ed By Gina Schaefer
Baltimore Business Journal, March 21, 2018
When my husband and I opened our first hardware store in 2003, we were focused on the need for a great store in our own neighborhood.
Fifteen years later, we’ve grown to 12 neighborhood hardware stores across Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, including Canton Ace Hardware, Federal Hill Ace Hardware and Waverly Ace Hardware in Baltimore. Fair pay has been fundamental to our successful business model and our growth — including during the last recession.
That’s why we support the proposal to gradually raise Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 by 2023.
Although much has been said about the value of raising the minimum wage for workers, less attention has been paid to the value that higher wages have for small local businesses.
As we know from experience, paying fair wages helps us attract and retain good employees, increase sales, expand our business and hire more people.
Employees are much more likely to stay in a job that pays them a fair wage. By contrast, low wages encourage high employee turnover.
Replacing an employee costs a business significant money and time. The high costs of turnover include advertising the position, time to screen and interview applicants, and time to onboard, followed by many hours of training. It takes weeks to months before a new staff person is trained, costing a company more each day.
Pay a fair wage and you keep the already trained employee and can focus instead on improving your business. Workers paid a decent wage can also concentrate more fully on their jobs and customers without the continual stress over how they are going to afford basics like rent, groceries or transportation.
A happy, productive employee who knows our business not only saves us money, they help us retain and grow our customer base. Our employees are on the frontlines. They are responsible for maintaining our reputation and interacting with customers, finding what they need, and communicating what new products and services customers want to see.
Gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 over five years would give businesses time to plan for and adapt to incremental increases. It would give them time to see benefits from raising the minimum wage, such as increased consumer spending and lower employee turnover, as the increases phase in.
And adding an annual cost of living adjustment in future years will make wages and consumer demand more predictable — and predictability is a good thing for business.
We have seen firsthand that fair pay is good for the bottom line. Raising Maryland’s minimum wage will boost consumer spending, strengthen businesses and the state and local tax base, and help communities across our state to thrive.
Gina Schaefer is the owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, a group of 12 independent Ace Hardware stores in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia. She is a member of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.
Copyright 2018 Gina Schaefer
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