‘Things hard!’

by Emmanuel Joseph

Vendor Ann Fontaine speaking with MP Cynthia Forde.
Vendor Ann Fontaine speaking with MP Cynthia Forde.

Vendors and concessionaires on Fairchild Street, the City, say they are barely eking out a daily living.

They cried out to Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and two of her parliamentary colleagues, Cynthia Forde and Trevor Prescod, when Mottley continued her “Rubbing Shoulders” work-site feed back sessions today.

Concessionaire Greg Spencer complained that for an entire day, he had only sold two drinks. Spencer also drew reporters’ attention to almost all of his fellow concessionaires whose shops had been closed due to a drastic decline in business.

“Things are really, really rough out here. We really need to get some spending power out here. If you look around, you can see, half of them gone already, because there ain’t nothing to be there for,” he lamented.

He said that half of the time he and his colleagues came to work and sat around with nothing to do.

“You can sit down from morning to evening, and nothing happens around here,” he added. “You were here standing for 20 to 25 minutes and you see anybody come here? Not at all!”.

He said he had even talked to some of the tenants about consolidating some of their debt so they could “stay alive”.

Fairchild Street concessionaire, Greg Spencer.
Fairchild Street concessionaire, Greg Spencer.

“Because you pay your rent this month, it’s going to tough to pay it next month. You pay your light bill, you gotta to balance it with buying stock.  Some of those people (concessionaires) had people working for them, now you don’t have that anymore.”

Spencer noted that if he was not getting some financial assistance from family overseas, he would have had to closed down already. He said he was embarrassed to say what he had made for the day.

“I would not like to tell you because it would be an embarrassing thing for me as a person who has been in business so long, to say what I have actually made. If I hit $50, would it be good? Fifty dollars even ain’t making it star,” declared the businessman.

“I have a lottery machine, and not even the lottery selling. So you could imagine. And if the lottery doesn’t sell, nothing else is going to sell,” he argued.

A fruit vendor who had been operating along Fairchild Street for more than 10 years, told this newspaper that the only money she had made for the day was the $11 the Opposition Leader had spent with her.

Sandra Findlay said she had a family to support and a house that needed repairs but did not know from where the money would come.

“But this is the first time since I in Barbados and feel things so hard. Things fall back down, nothing doing,” insisted the vendor who originated from another Caribbean island.

Another fruit vendor, who said for the 34 years she has been operating in Bridgetown, had never seen business so difficult in the City.

Sheila St. Rose said she had a family of four to support, pay rent, had to find $80 a week to send a child with sickle cell to day nursery and still has to honour a loan for a van.

“I run from police; I get lock up vending without permit, now I have a permit make some money and there is nothing to do. Right now I does pick some pigeon peas when you could find it and sell,” St. Rose revealed.

An elderly vendor reported that her water had been turned off for the past 10 years, due to a lack of adequate income.

“I haven’t got a husband. I never put myself with nobody around here since I in Barbados,” pointed out Ann Fontaine, who was born overseas.

Fontaine complained that she was not getting pension and the money she received from the Welfare Department could hardly cover her needs.

“And if you go to the Welfare and they give you $80; $20 they give you for a week. That can’t make you survive,” she insisted. emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb


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