Minimum wage increase impacting local small businesses, including Adventures Underground

Wage increase

RICHLAND, Wash. — Washington state has approved a minimum wage increase for employees to $13.50 an hour. For an employee, it means more money. For business owners, it’s worrisome.

Amanda Divine owns Adventures Underground and Caterpillar Cafe in Richland at the Uptown. They’ve been in business for more than 10 years. With 21 employees between the two, Divine says it’s going to be a difficult road with the increase.

“We can buy fewer items, but then we have fewer items to sell,” Divine said. “We can reduce staffing a little bit, like how many hours we can schedule people for.”

However, it’s going to do a lot more than impact just wages.

“The fewer people we have, the harder people have to work. The more stress they are, the more shrinkage goes up, the more morale goes down — it’s kind of just a really hard mix going forward,” she explained.

Because of the increase, money towards payroll for the business will go up by $4,000 a month. Divine doesn’t want to decrease her staff, but cutting hours could be a possibility. Divine has tried to find other ways to cut back. She’s lowering trade-in values and raising prices on certain items.

Closing down aren’t in the cards, but it has popped into Divine’s mind.

“I mean, you know, there’s other things. The cafe and the record department is an expansion that we did a few years ago, maybe that’s something that we have to look at shutting down,” she said. “It’s not something that we want to do or have any plans to do but we want to survive.”

The business has had repeat customers since the beginning. It’s been a place for people to buy books, games, records and more. It’s also been a place for employees.

“We want to be a home for these 21 people to work,” Divine said.

She told KAPP-KVEW that other businesses are worried — some even concerned about closing down. The minimum wage could increase in 2021 with inflation.

Divine isn’t sure what the next six months or year will hold, but she hopes to keep the doors open.