As minimum wage rises, some small businesses are ahead of the curve

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HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — Starting Jan. 1, minimum wage workers in Virginia are getting a raise.
Thanks to legislation passed by the General Assembly, the minimum wage will rise statewide from $9.50 to $11 an hour.

This is the latest in a series of planned increases. Virginia’s minimum wage will ultimately rise to $15 an hour by 2026 if lawmakers approve the additional increase in a future session.

Employees making less than that are looking forward to a livable paycheck.

While some small business owners expressed hesitation over the increase, many said staffing shortages have already driven them to increase pay.

Tiffany Sherman, the owner of Quilter’s Corner in Midlothian, said it took time to adjust to this change.
“It’s a little scary, especially since we went from $7.25 to $9.00 last year. I’ve always been above that mark, but just seeing it continuing to grow I do agree that people need a living wage,” she said.

Sherman said she was concerned about having to raise prices to accommodate for the payroll, but she was able to give all employees at least $11 or more.

Gary Weiner, the owner of Saxon Shoes in Short Pump, said his workers all make at least $11 already.

“We escalated wages to get our staff back and long term it may mean working with a few less people here,” he said. “A few less people paid a little better, maybe doing the job a little better.”

Weiner said he also believes everyone deserves a livable wage.

“To retain people, you have to be on the better end of wages. Be a good place for people to work with management and provide them with more than just dollars and cents,” he said.

Employees at the newly-opened Eggs Up Grill in Henrico County make at least $11, too.

Rob Thompson, the owner of the breakfast restaurant, said their opening day was delayed two weeks because of staffing issues.

“It has been tough while you’re working through the pandemic issues in trying to hire staff. We’ve been real lucky at our first location. I would say we retained about 80% of the staff we hired,” he said. “Over here on this side in Henrico it’s a little harder to come up to speed with our staff, but we’re probably at 75%.”

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