Could Membership Clubs Be The Key To Overcoming Wage Hikes?
Comix Experience, a comic book store out of San Francisco, announced Monday a new plan to overcome the new minimum wage which has already caused some city businesses to close.
Back in November, residents of the city voted to increase the minimum wage gradually to $15 an hour over the course of three years. Though the wage hike was designed to help address income inequality, several businesses have already had to close their doors. Brian Hibbs, owner of Comix Experience, came up with a plan in the hopes of keeping his business going.
“I have heard nothing but compliments,” Hibbs told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I’m hopeful we are going to exceed what we need.”
While the company supports the concept of a living wage, to generate the additional $80,000 a year in sales needed the store has set up a membership club. Membership in the Graphic Novel Club will cost $25 a month and include several benefits. Hibbs hopes the idea will utilize the powers of the marketplace and community support.
“I’m a fucking hippy, I’m a long-haired man, but I’m also a capitalist,” he noted. “The store has always been, for 26 years, a profitable business.”
Though he supports the minimum wage, Hibbs believes the city could have done more to help small businesses make the transition, especially with how dramatic the increase is.
“I think the minimum wage is necessary for a society to function,” Hibbs noted. “The increase has always been minor at any one time.”
“I think another thing that would have been good is if the city had a plan to help small businesses,” Hibbs continued.
Nevertheless, Hibbs is hopeful his strategy will allow the store to make the transition without losing staff or cutting business operations.
“I work this job because I enjoy it, not because it’s going to make me the most money ever,” he concluded.
Michael Saltsman, research director of the Employment Policies Institute, warns the city is likely to see more businesses close as the wage rises to $15.
“Oakland across the bay only went up to $12.25 and were still seeing problems there,” Saltsman told TheDCNF.
Though innovative, Saltsman fears the membership idea to keep Comix Experience open will only help so much.
“It’s not a long-term fix,” Saltsman argued. “At some point customers can’t be purchasing memberships to every place they shop.”
Though the wage increase has not gone into full effect, opponents are already pointing to several businesses that have closed as a result. These include Abbot’s Cellar, Luna Park and Source. Borderlands Books was saved from going out of business by also using a customer sponsorship fundraiser.
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