Hobby Lobby assistant manager Adam Garcia said his employees are still in shock.

Last week 8th Street store manager David Schafer returned from a meeting in Denver with unprecedented news: all hourly full-time employees would begin receiving a minimum wage of $10 per hour immediately.

“While it doesn’t affect me directly, 19 of our 24 employees will receive the increase. We’re the smallest of three Hobby Lobby stores in Colorado Springs – the others have about 30 employees – so it will apply to them too,” Garcia said, adding that employee reaction was complete surprise.”Some couldn’t believe it. Mainly it was just ‘thank you, thank you.’ It was awesome.”

The 8th St. store, like many others had seen cutbacks in the hours worked by employees – and their family members.

With about 400 arts and craft stores throughout the country, Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and its affiliated businesses including Mardel and Hemispheres employ about 6,900, full-time and part-time people.

This increase and other pay raises for full-time hourly employees earning up to $13 per hour will raise, some by as much as 50 percent – up to almost $600 per month, according to a report on StreetInsider.com

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The company also said this is not the first time it had bucked a national economic trend. Last year, as the price of gasoline ballooned, Hobby Lobby gave employees a permanent 25 cent per hour raise to help offset cost of living increases.

In another move counter to the prevailing economic winds, the company also said it expects to open another 25 stores in the year ahead that will hire up to 1,000 employees.

CEO and founder David Green said the move was the most exciting initiative he’d been involved with since starting the company.

“We believe our success…is directly attributable to our outstanding employees and our strong corporate values, which are based on biblical principles, including integrity, service to others and giving back to those in need.”

“I’ve never worked for anyone who’s done this, especially companywide,” Garcia said. “It gives you confidence – and makes your proud to work for such a good company. It makes you want to work harder.”