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Minneapolis council’s war on small businesses

I’ve written previously about how regulations can stifle economic activity. Another example comes from Minneapolis. As the Star Tribune reports

In recent years, the Minneapolis City Council passed various ordinances designed to improve public health and protect workers. The new laws on wage theft, sick and safe time, and requiring corner stores to carry fruits and vegetables have saddled business owners with new rules and paperwork.

Convenience store owners say they have suffered the most from the raised cigar prices, to $2.60 each, and the ban on flavored cigarette sales. The city also raised the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21.

Speaking to Adil Albosaad, owner of the E and L Supermarket and Deli, a corner store in north Minneapolis,

…a little before 11 a.m., he’s put less than $72 in the register, well below the $130 he hopes to bring in before noon each day.

Albosaad says he recalls a day in 2015 when a customer came in and commented on the busy deli area and aisles of customers in the store. Now Albosaad and the cook at the hot food counter have the place to themselves.

“See how quiet it is,” Albosaad said as he looked around the empty aisles. “Now it’s really dead.”

With sales falling, like other small business owners in a similar position, he has had to cut costs, including his wage bill.

In Albosaad’s case, he has one employee left, and he reduced the worker’s hours at his store, at 1122 Lowry Av. N. Albosaad throws away rotting tomatoes and eggplants that the city makes him stock but customers don’t buy.

“It doesn’t matter what we said, they’re not going to change,” Albosaad said of the City Council. “They’re not helping us; they are against us. They come with a lot of rules, a lot of licenses. Our property tax going up every year. … They don’t care about convenience stores.”

Mr. Albosaad arrived in Minneapolis with his family from Iraq in 1994. He had a job working in a convenience store within 10 hours of his arrival.

“It’s an easy job to get because you cannot speak English when you came here so people hire you right away for low wages,” Albosaad said. “I moved my way up, I learned the job quick.”

In 1997, he bought the building from the man who hired him and started his own convenience store with his family. Albosaad said the building itself is paid off and his tenants include a Chinese restaurant, a nail shop, a barbershop and a BoostMobile store. He put the building up for sale six months ago.

Here is an American success story. It is shameful that, by its actions, Minneapolis city council would trash it.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment. 

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