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‘It puts a heavier burden on a small business owner’: Owners worried about NYS minimum wage raise

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(WBNG) -- A small business owner says he may have to cut some of his staff after New York State's minimum wage increased Thursday.

George Rolston owns Plato's Closet, Once Upon A Child and Style Encore, all of them clothing stores on the Vestal Parkway.

He said while the pay raise will help his staff, a majority of which are part-time workers who make minimum wage, it's not beneficial to the bottom line he sees as a small business owner.

"I wish I could pay every employee far more than minimum", Rolston said. "The given fact is that our biggest expense is being increased, and the only place we can make that is up to cut staffing."

On Thursday, the New York State minimum wage raised to $12.50 in parts of the state outside of Long Island, Westchester and New York City.

Rolston said the pandemic didn't do businesses any favors, and estimated his businesses have seen a 20% dip in sales.

He explained to 12 News that his businesses are franchises, and that prices are set a higher level, which makes it difficult to make that money back.

"We don't recoup that. It just comes out of our pocket," he said.

Rolston expressed frustration with New York State officials in setting a pay increase.

"Who makes that decision? It's obviously someone who has never been in the position of that a small business owner has been in, to actually be up against that and know what the struggle is," Rolston added.

Rolston commended his employees for their work, but knows tough choices may have to be made.

"I hate cutting them. I'd like to keep them all on," he said. "But at the same at the same time that we're seeing this increase in labor [pay], the sales are down."

Cal Dymowski

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