New Richland business impacted by minimum wage increase still has big plans in store
Owner says he didn't think about the changing law before opening
A Richland business owner opened his doors in November and is already feeling the impact of increased minimum wages thanks to a new state law.
Doug Tallman opened Amethyst Creamery at 700 George Washington Way near Howard Amon Park less than 3 months ago. He specializes in selling dairy and vegan ice cream, coffee and espresso, and stones. His shop is divided into three areas: in one area there are tables for people to enjoy their coffee or ice cream, near the tables is a full ice cream bar with several unique flavors, and along the other side of the shop there are cases from floor to ceiling of precious stones. Tallman thought of each aspect of his business, except for I-1433, the law bumping up minimum wage in Washington to $13.50 an hour.
“I didn’t even know that it was going to happen to be honest,” Tallman said, “I knew it was coming after the news got out recently, you know. I haven’t even been watching the news a lot lately because I’ve been here every single day.”
Tallman said he is inside the shop by 9 a.m. and doesn’t leave until 8 p.m. every day of the week.
“The only days we’ve had off is Christmas and Thanksgiving,” he said.
Tallman and his wife run the store and have one part-time employee. Due to the new law though, they won’t be hiring anyone else until they absolutely need to.
“Summertime’s coming and if we don’t have enough people to run the store, then we’re going to have some customers that’ll be not too happy because they’re going to be waiting too long,” Tallman said, “So we’re going to have to hire some people but it won’t be as many as we had hoped because of the wage increase.”
Tallman has a strategy to cut some overhead costs at Amethyst Creamery though.
“A lot of our advertising is going to be through social media and on Facebook,” Tallman said.
The Amethyst Creamery Facebook page already has almost 900 likes. Instagram users have also raved over the vegan options the shop offers. Tallman also said the wage increase will not detour the business from adding new flavors each month.
“We’re still going to get new flavors in,” Tallman said, “We’re going to have a flavor of the month, and then a new staple will come in. We’re going to go with black licorice ice cream, which a lot of people have been requesting. So that’s coming in this month.”
The plans don’t stop there.
“Right now we have 10 different flavors of non-dairy ice cream,” Tallman said, “We’re going to be switching out and getting a small freezer in and we’re going to move four of the dairy products over to that one, and then we’re going to make the one whole case nothing but non-dairy, and we’ll have 12 different flavors in that.”
He says people that can’t have milk can still come in and get a great number of choices.
“The ice cream is really good,” he said, “It’s not, you know, sorbet tasting or that icy taste. It’s actually rich and creamy and people are really excited about that.”
Tallman hopes to attract more customers in the spring and summer, especially being near the Columbia River. He is planning to advertise toward tourists and adding more signage to the large windows on the front and side of his building. He says as the season ramps up, he has high hopes for his new business.
“We’ll just take it as it comes,” Tallman said, “Maybe start getting a little busier and then maybe we can take somebody on and then maybe one other person. Hopefully we’ll have enough customers that could keep it real busy during the summertime to make up for right now where we’re slow.
Amethyst Creamery is unique in what it offers. Tallman has a long history and love for stones. He said gems are his lifelong passion. He gained an admiration for the science behind gems and their impressive looks when he was young. Later in life, he and his wife owned a gem and mineral shop in Sun River, Oregon for nine years.
“Then when we came up here, we saw that there was a need for gems and minerals because there isn’t too much around here,” Tallman said, “So we thought we had do that along with the ice cream and then do some coffee for people that like to drink coffee or they can have coffee and ice cream together.”
Amethyst Creamery offers affogatos, a combination of ice cream and coffee. The store also displays prices on coffee, ice cream and gems with taxes already added.
“The rocks and ice cream compliment each other,” Tallman said, “People come in here and may just be wanting ice cream but something catches their eye. So sales have also helped both too.”
Amethyst Creamery is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week.