Vintage Vinyl's Lew Prince Shrugs Off White House Award; Prefers Minimum Wage Hike

Categories: News

lew-price-tom-ray.jpg
Jon Scorfina for Riverfront Times.
Lew Prince (left) and his business partner, Tom "Papa" Ray, at Vintage Vinyl.
The co-owner of Vintage Vinyl was back in the nation's capital this week to receive a Champions of Change award from the White House. But if you think Lew Prince is flattered by the honor, think again. The real award, says Prince, will come once Congress raises the minimum wage.

"Look, the whole idea of this week's event was to generate publicity for raising the minimum wage," says Prince, who last November was one of a handful of business owners invited to meet personally with President Barack Obama and his cabinet to discuss raising the federal minimum wage to slightly over $10 per hour. "This was about getting those people back in town and keeping up the pressure."

While in D.C. on Tuesday, Prince was part of a panel of business leaders, academics and politicians sharing their views on C-SPAN on why companies need to pay entry-level workers higher wages.

Says Prince: "It's really about damn time. Even conservative Republicans are starting to endorse this because they're figuring out that a person working 40 hours a week can't live on $7.50."

The federal minimum wage has held steady at $7.25 since 2009. In Missouri the minimum wage rises based on changes in the Consumer Price Index, and this year it rose 15 cents to $7.50. In Illinois the minimum wage is $8.25.

The Obama administration wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10. But to do so would need Congressional approval, which is far from guaranteed. As Prince argues, the pay increase just makes economic sense in that it would raise wages across the board. How? Because a fast-food manager making a dollar or two more per hour than her employees would also have to see her salary increase accordingly. And those making entry-level wages would be more likely to spend their money and increase the economy.

"The economics are stunning, and it's an easy thing for politicians to do," says Prince. "No taxes are raised. The only person whose ox is gored is a stockholder for a successful corporation."

See also: Vintage Vinyl Makes USA Today's "10 Best Record Stores" List

Besides, says Prince, if his record store can afford to pay more than minimum wage, so too can major corporations. Vintage Vinyl starts new workers at $9 an hour, he says, and its full-time employees make much more than that. In addition, the company provides health insurance and paid vacations.

"And we're in an industry that is contracting financially," says Prince. "But here is the deal, when you pay people enough that they stick around, what you get is dedicated employees who are secure in their jobs and treat customers spectacularly. Of my twelve full-time guys, more than half have been here over twenty years. Everyone knows how to run everything here. It's a huge benefit of retaining workers."

Prince says that if Congress doesn't approve the minimum-wage hike, he and other employers with the group Business for a Fair Minimum Wage will attempt to get an initiative on the 2015 Missouri ballot that would raise the state's minimum wage to over $10. In 2006, Jobs with Justice and other wage reformers got the initiative on the ballot that pegged Missouri's minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index. That measure passed by a nearly three-to-one margin, and Prince is confident that a rise to $10.10 would also get voted in.

But about that White House award from Tuesday? Prince says he's yet to lay eyes on it.

"They are supposed to send me something, but frankly, I don't care," says Prince. "I'm 63 years old. That junk is all paper to me."

Contact the author at chad.garrison@riverfronttimes.com or on Twitter @chadgarrison.

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Vintage Vinyl

6610 Delmar Blvd., University City, MO

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17 comments
Mandi Fornes
Mandi Fornes

Thanks, yes I did, Josh. Right, he doesn't pay the minimum wage he's fighting for. He's hoping to see the min. wage raise, per the article (technically blog). $10.10 is more than the $9 hourly wage he pays currently. We can both add :)

Josh Clutts
Josh Clutts

Did you read the article? the article states that he already starts his part-time employees at $9 an hour ($1.75 over minimum), and that it's the Obama administration that wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

you're right. probably a lot more than the president he worships.

Nathan Ernst
Nathan Ernst

No, no, what we need is more business owners to pay people what they're worth. Raising the minimum wage = inflation. yay!

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

a burger flipper will have the same value to the marketplace relative to an airline pilot no matter what the pay rate is. it's election year nonsense.

Kelli Mayahi
Kelli Mayahi

Stop being so mean ....you know you wouldn't say it to their face....so shutty

Manda Grincavich
Manda Grincavich

Good for him. We need more business owners to speak out for higher minimum wage.

Randall OftheFamily Dedert
Randall OftheFamily Dedert

Suck it deep Neil. He supports govt mandating higher minimum wage which is an invasion on the rights of private business and has never helped any economy and results in small businesses shutting down and a furthers the economic oligarchy that we currently have. How about you STFU and crack a book for once in your life.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Are you seriously telling a successful business owner to shut his mouth about economic planning? You must have no idea how difficult it is to keep a record store open these days lol Dated media? Is that what you call music? Next time supply some evidence to support your claim or just STFU

Mandi Fornes
Mandi Fornes

Why doesn't he pay part-timers the $10.10 he's 'fighting' for?

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

How long has Vintage Vinyl been in business? What chould the owner possibly know about economics? Smh.

SlickRandallDedert
SlickRandallDedert

aren't books "outdated" media as well?

Randall - you are a classic political flip flopper & waffler


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