How A Sticker In A Store Window Could Push Lawmakers To Increase The Minimum Wage

MaryAnne Howland, President and CEO of Ibis Communications in Nashville, TN, stands in front of the decal displayed in her store window CREDIT: BUSINESS FOR A FAIR MINIMUM WAGE
MaryAnne Howland, President and CEO of Ibis Communications in Nashville, TN, stands in front of the decal displayed in her store window CREDIT: BUSINESS FOR A FAIR MINIMUM WAGE

When you’re hungry, there are many stickers in restaurant windows that may help guide your decision over where to eat: a Zagat rating, a “People love us on Yelp” decal, or even a “1% for the planet” decal. Now you can add another sticker to guide you: one showing that the business supports a higher federal minimum wage.

Business For a Fair Minimum Wage, a coalition of businesses and business groups that support raising the wage to $10.10 an hour, has launched new decals that members can put up in their windows. The stickers proclaim, “This business supports $10.10 federal minimum wage” with the words “Good for business, customers and our economy.” Owners can also order poster-sized signs with a more in-depth message.

To get the word out, the group released a video of business owners from around the country proudly displaying the sticker.

The campaign has been going for less than a month but already hundreds of businesses have put them up in their storefronts, the group’s Founder and CEO Holly Sklar said. She expects many more of its 1,000 plus signatories, which include companies from Costco to Eileen Fisher to Ben and Jerry’s, to follow suit.

The idea came about because “some folks were asking for something more visible that they could display at their own place of business,” she explained. Her group helps business owners get placed in local media talking about minimum wage debates, and “often times people tell us…they’ll have people coming in the store saying, ‘Hey I saw you on the news, this is great,’” she said. “This is another way they can interact more directly and visibly.”

One of the hopes is that customers will see the decals and decide to give those stores more of their business. And that may already be playing out at Pi Pizzeria in St. Louis, MO and Washington, D.C. The restaurant chain already got good press for raising its minimum pay to $10.10 an hour in the spring. “We’ve had plenty of people coming in and mentioning it and telling servers and managers that’s why they’re with us,” owner Chris Sommers said. “We’ve received personal notes, some had never been to our restaurants and are now coming.”

Chris Sommers, owner of Pi Pizzeria CREDIT: Business For a Fair Minimum Wage
Chris Sommers, owner of Pi Pizzeria CREDIT: Business For a Fair Minimum Wage

The decal could increase that feedback. “We’ve had more comments recently,” he said. “It’s hard to tell how many are coming from the sticker.” But he anticipates it will do his business well. “If somebody is walking around the corner and looking at several different restaurants, it’s a compelling reason if they’re on the fence between pizza and burgers,” he said. “The sticker can only help.”

Amanda Rothschild, co-owner of Charmington’s cafe in Baltimore, agrees. “I think that having the decal out will show our dedication to the [minimum wage] movement and that will definitely be a good move for us,” she said. “The same way that a business that puts a rating decal on their window, a Zagat rating or something of that nature.” Customers who see it will know that the employees who serve them will be paid well. They’ll “know that the employees who work there are going to be loyal, dedicated, and really taking care of the needs of the business, which includes taking care of the customer. I think that it instills customer loyalty and also a sense of confidence in the restaurant.”

But Rothschild is focused on more than the benefit to her own business. “It’s a symbol of solidarity in the movement,” she said. Businesses who support a higher minimum wage can often be overshadowed by larger organizations that don’t, like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, but she contests that there are many like her. “There are a lot of businesses who pay more than the minimum wage and try to pay a living wage, but they are not always the loudest voices in the room,” she said. “So I think it’s really important that businesses that are committed to better practices are very vocal about it and show that they are not alone in it.”

If somebody is walking around the corner and looking at several different restaurants, it’s a compelling reason if they’re on the fence between pizza and burgers

Those voices can make a big impact on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers “have all been very willing to hear from me, and we only have 15 employees,” she said. “My voice makes a difference, and if my voice makes a different, [other business owners’] voice will also make a difference.”

Business For a Fair Minimum Wage also hopes that a proliferation of stickers will put pressure on lawmakers. “We have a very important, concrete goal of getting the minimum wage raised at the federal level, state level, and in some cases citywide level. But we know that that’s always a big effort,” Sklar said. “So along the way and as part of getting to that it’s really important to change the conversation.” That means making sure businesses are not “being talked about as a monolith,” but that the voices of those who support a higher wage are heard.

Pi Pizzeria’s Sommers thinks the decal will also spread better practices among business owners. “In our community we’re looked upon as a successful restaurant group, good operators, conscious of operating revenues and expenses,” he said. His company was able to conduct a financial analysis to make sure raising wages wouldn’t mean raises prices or hurt profit, but not all business owners have the resources to do that. Instead, he said, “They can look to us and say, ‘They did it,’ and use it for confidence to increase the minimum wage.”

Putting the sticker in his window “was a no-brainer,” he said. So are higher wages. “You take care of your teams and they take of your guests and then revenue is not a problem after that.”