In Port Orchard, a new minimum wage is squeezing small businesses

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- Lois Sietman opened Nostalgia House Bakery four years ago on Bay Street in Port Orchard, but as a small business owner, she isn't 'rolling in the dough' and fears the new minimum wage increase will make it tough to stay open.

"It's tough enough to be a small business in this world right now but to have that kind of increase in wages is tremendous," said Sietman.

In November, voters approved a statewide initiative to increase the minimum wage. By 2020, low-wage workers will earn at least $13.50 an hour.

Sietman said the higher minimum wage is going to cost her roughly $35 per day for six employees, which increases her costs by more than $1,000 a month -- money she simply can't afford with other increased costs of supplies.

She's now cutting back hours and asking more of her staff. She also may close her shop an hour earlier each day.

"We keep trying to do everything we can, make the best quality products we can, try and make sure people are really happy when they walk out the door and there's only so much you can do," said Sietman.

Spiro's Pizza & Pasta on Jackson Avenue is another family-owned business forced to make some changes. The owners have already laid off one person.

"We worry about being able to stay open and people continuing to have their jobs," said co-owner Wendy Lougheed. "You just do the best you can to try and keep a handle on what you spend every day. You just hope that you stay busy and you hope that people keep coming out."

Lougheed supports the wage increase, but she's concerned that everyone is getting paid a living wage -- both those getting a first job and those with experience.

"I want people to be able to pay their bills, and I want them to be able to live out on their own," said Lougheed. "We have 16-year-old kids that don't need to be out on their own. We're having to pay them that same wages that you have to pay the 23- or 24- or 30-year-old--- you wish that you could pay those people more and the high school kids less."

As for Sietman, she previously paid some workers above minimum wage but can't do it anymore if she wants to keep the doors open.

"I'm a fighter, and I'm going to keep fighting at it as long as I can," said Sietman. "They're going to have to drag me kicking and screaming out of here to shut the door even though there are days when I'd like to just walk out and forget about it because it is tough."

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