Hobby Lobby Arts and Crafts Store are not only providing a new retail business for Brownsville residents to shop at but higher wagers to the retail industry.

According to a press release from the home décor retailer, full-time employees will make $17 an hour while part-time employees will earn $11 an hour. Hobby Lobby is scheduled to open in Brownsville in late June and will hire between 35 to 50 employees.

According to figures provided by Workforce Solutions Cameron, Hobby Lobby’s full-time wage is $1.53 higher than the average $15.47 an hour wage for an experienced worker in the retail industry in Cameron County. The starting wage in the retail industry is $8.38 per hour. It jumps to $13.11 an hour for an mean wage worker.

Pat Hobb’s, executive director of Workforce Solutions Cameron, said Hobby Lobby’s action could prompt other new retailers moving to the area and current retailers to also bring in higher or increase wages.

“I’m glad to hear that Hobby Lobby is paying $17 an hour that sends a message to all the other retailers in the area that if you want a good work force you are going to have to pay for it for a change,” Hobbs said.

“A lot of our work force, especially if they have experience in some sort of industry recognized certification, they are worth a lot of money and these new companies coming in recognize that, they also recognize the fact that they are going to have to buy their work force to begin with.”

Hobbs said new retailers will be looking at the current wages and see how much they will have to increase their own wages in order to buy them from competitors. Hobbs said he doesn’t know when the buying of employees will occur or what type of impact it will have on the workforce, but said “It’s going to happen. The wage rate is not where it should be.”

Hobb’s said we live in a service oriented economy and that 80 percent of the county’s jobs come from the retail industry, low level health care, education and government. “Retail is big.”

Some of Hobby Lobby’s management jobs in Brownsville are already posted on jobsites such as Instant Careers, Jobs Trivia and Jobilize.

Construction continues on the future home of Hobby Lobby Arts and Crafts Store in Brownsville, which formerly occupied Kmart. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Construction continues on the 55,000 square-foot building that will house the new Hobby Lobby store. It will be located at N. Expressway 77/83 and Pablo Kisel Road at the old Kmart location.

Hobby Lobby, which stocks more than 65,000 items including arts and crafts supplies, fashion fabrics, baskets, silk flowers, party supplies and furniture.

It will be the first Hobby Lobby in Brownsville. Harlingen has one Hobby Lobby while McAllen has two.

lmartinez@brownsvilleherald.com