Op-Ed By Annie Adams
Niagara Gazette, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, March 25, 2023. Also Olean Times Herald, Caribbean Life, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Monroe Photo News, Warwick Advertiser, The Observer, others. Distributed by American Forum.
As a small business owner, I’m invested in New York. I’m not looking for a quick buck. I’m building a business to last for many years to come. That’s why I support raising New York’s minimum wage and then adjusting it in future years to keep up with the cost of living instead of falling behind.
My business, Second Chic, has grown to two stores in Buffalo, where we sell new and vintage clothing. At Second Chic, it’s all about the people! The people who are our customers. The people who trust us to sell their clothing on consignment. And the people who make up our wonderful team of employees.
Both our stores have incredible followings because our employees know the changing inventory and love to help customers when they are shopping. We think of it like shopping with a friend.
Retail businesses often have high employee turnover caused by low wages and poor treatment of staff. It’s a very shortsighted approach. High turnover costs you in time and money spent on hiring and training new employees. And high turnover costs you dearly in lost sales and lost customers.
I’ve been able to hire and retain top-notch people because of how we treat our employees. Respecting your employees through fair compensation means they can afford to stay at your business, they work more productively, and they help grow your business.
I know my stores are in good hands whether I am there or not. That’s a real asset.
The minimum wage throughout upstate New York is just $14.20 an hour. We pay a starting wage of $15 and on top of that we add annual raises, bonuses, and sales commissions – bringing compensation well above $15. Raising the minimum wage will put a stronger wage floor under all businesses across New York, upstate and downstate.
I’ve seen firsthand how investing in employees generates business growth. We would not have been able to grow as we have without the commitment, care, and expertise of our employees – and the great service they provide to customers day after day.
That type of service is what keeps a business growing and thriving.
Raising the minimum wage will help New Yorkers thrive now and in the future.
I’ve joined with hundreds of businesses across our state in the New York Business for a Fair Minimum Wage Coalition to support increasing the minimum wage as proposed in the Raise the Wage Act and backed by many lawmakers to include in the state budget. New York’s minimum wage would catch up to the cost of living by gradually increasing to $20 upstate and $21.25 downstate by 2026. In 2027, the minimum wage would be $21.25 statewide with annual cost of living adjustments so that it does not lose purchasing power in future years.
This minimum wage proposal has very strong public support. A recent poll showed that 80% of New Yorkers backed it. That should move our elected representatives in Albany to act now.
When workers in our community make more money, they can spend more at local businesses. Raising the minimum wage will inject revenues and vitality into our small businesses.
Businesses will see more customer spending as minimum wage increases are phased in, providing time and money for businesses to adjust. And more businesses will see improvements such as lower turnover as workers can better make ends meet.
Raising and then indexing the minimum wage to the cost of living will strengthen our customer base, our local businesses, and our economy. Let’s get it done.
Annie Adams is the owner of Second Chic in Buffalo and a member of New York Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.
Copyright 2023 Annie Adams
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