Montgomery Advertiser: Raising the minimum wage would boost state's economy

Op-Ed By Ashraf Hijaz
Montgomery Advertiser, July 24, 2019

Nearly 18 years ago, I moved to Alabama with dreams of opening a business. What began as a single Beauty & Beyond store on Norman Bridge Road has grown to 24 locations across six states, with six here in Montgomery, and a total of more than 100 employees. Over the years, I’ve seen the value of treating people the way I want to be treated — and for me that starts with my employees.

Since opening my business, I’ve made it a practice to pay above the minimum wage. If I want them to do a great job, I need to pay them a decent wage. And it works. Every day I see staff interacting with our customers, informing them about our products, finding what they need and providing the service that encourages customers to come back again and again.

I’m well aware of how difficult it can be for small businesses like mine to find and retain a dedicated workforce. But having day-after-day, year-after-year employee loyalty isn’t just a nice, feel-good aspect of my business, it helps my bottom line. My recruiting and training costs are lower, I have less turnover and I enjoy remarkable stability for a small business. 

Paying good wages also has beneficial ripple effects for the local economy. With more cash to spend, my employees become customers of other local small businesses: our hardware stores, our daycare centers, our grocery stores, our salons, our delis, our coffee shops and more. The reverse is also true. Many of my customers are low-wage workers. When they have more money in their pockets, they spend it locally, at businesses like mine.  ...

Ashraf Hijaz owns a chain of Beauty & Beyond stores in Montgomery and across the South, and is a member of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.

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Copyright 2019 Ashraf Hijaz

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