Village cry

A few tourists taking a stroll through the Pelican Craft Centre.

The writing seems to be on the wall for one of Barbados’ once bustling craft markets.

Yesterday a Barbados TODAY team visited the Pelican Craft Centre in Bridgetown only to discover that many shops were either closed or on the brink of closure, with some operators already sounding the death knell of the overall village.

There were reports earlier this year that the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) was going after clients for outstanding rent and that some shop owners were locked out of the Pelican complex.

A few tourists taking a stroll through the Pelican Craft Centre.

This after Minister of Industry, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss reported last December that tenants had owed the BIDC some $15 million in arrears, up from $10 million in 2014.

Since then, Government has been seeking to outsource management of the under-patronized Pelican complex.

During the hour-long visit only a trickle of traffic was seen, with a total of five tourists making their way in and out of one of the souvenir shops without making any purchases.

To add to the apparent doom and gloom, at least one business, which was not identifiable by name, had also erected a sign at its entrance informing customers that instead of the usual six days, it would now be open only four days a week.

This business in Pelican Craft Centre will now be opening four days instead of six.

And while the doors to Light Body Wholistic Clinic remained open, its owner Chantel Selman reported that business on the whole was difficult, with Pelican “dying a very slow and painful death”.

She blamed the local authorities, saying the recent development of the Bridgetown Port as an all-inclusive, which sells many of the very items available in Pelican, was partly at fault.

“This was here first, and then when they [redesigned] the port they put craft people and food and everything down there,” Selman complained.

She also suggested that in the absence of a footpath directly in front of the craft centre, many cruise ship visitors preferred to walk along the seaside as they make their way into the capital.

“If you had the option of walking here [in front of Pelican] or going and overlooking the sea, which one would you choose?” Selman asked, explaining that visitors tended to “walk past Pelican” and patronize other businesses in the heart of The City.

Her assessment was shared by Nicole Harry, who recently started working in the village, which up until February this year comprised 25 retail shops, 14 workshops, a wine bar and bistro, restaurant and an annex with an art gallery, all on 262,945 square feet of space.

“It is very hard for . . . us,” Harry told Barbados TODAY.

“People would think that Pelican is right here by the port and all the tourists come in, but no!  When the tourists come in on the ship they walk on the right side of the road by the sea and they go straight to town.

“So, if you are in Pelican and you don’t have your own clientele, you cannot make it, as you cannot depend on the tourists,” she explained.

However, the owner of Sparky’s Bar and Bistro, Steve Marshall, said due to patronage from workers in the Harbour Road area, the going had not been as tough for him, even though he would like to see more tourists patronizing his food establishment.

Owner of Sparky’s Bar and Bistro would like to see more tourists at the establishment.

Just recently businesses in the greater Bridgetown area made a direct appeal to Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy to do more to lively up The City, with some openly complaining to him that Bridgetown was too dead.

“We want to give people things to do. We want a city that is alive, inviting, not sitting all the time. We want entertainment, a moving city,” said Jackie Harewood-Pope of Furniture Limited, while calling for facilities such as a movie theatre and bowling alley.

And despite Sealy’s objection to the suggestion that Bridgetown was dead, Harewood-Pope received support from her boss Ram Mirchandani, who said “the amount of people we used to get for purchasing in Bridgetown has [slowed down].

“When we say Bridgetown is dead, it is not from the point of view of people not walking around, but it is the money that is being spent in town. The majority of the people go out of town for their shopping and otherwise,” the City businessman had reported, while pointing out that many Government offices had been relocated from Bridgetown and that the promised move by the University of the West Indies to the old Mutual Building had not yet become a reality.

However, Government is planning a major spruce-up of The City to make it more welcoming to Barbadians and visitors alike.

The plan includes providing new, informative signage, increasing the number of public toilet facilities, installing tour guide paths, making historic signs more attractive and making sidewalks accessible for the physically challenged.

Funding for the project will be provided through a US$20 million Inter-American Development Bank loan, which covers the period 2014 to 2018.

Source: (LG)

30 Responses to Village cry

  1. Saga Boy June 29, 2017 at 12:15 am

    Rents are too high; the villge is on the wrong side of the road and nothing is done in a sustained manner to pull tourist to the area.

    • Belfast June 29, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      For sure, the Village is competing with the Caribbean Sea across Carlisle Bay when tourists on cruise liners exit the Bridgetown Port Gate.

  2. Adrian Loveridge June 29, 2017 at 6:10 am

    They really have to do more for themselves. I have made multiple attempts to help (free) with marketing ideas and including them in our re-DISCOVER initiative ( and never had a single response.

  3. Alex Alleyne June 29, 2017 at 7:04 am

    From way back when, I said that the foot traffic from the PORT is directed on the other side of the ( HIDDEN) village. Also the tour busses take the TOURIST straight to Broad Street and only a few Locals visit the village. In all this what do you expect, If most of the store owners were WHITE the Government would have made sure the VILLAGE is flourishing just like the HOTELS.

    • jennifer June 29, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Hahaha. Alex u kick that ball directly between the goal post with precision. Nothing but hard facts. BUT this also says something about blacks too and our Oreo governments.

  4. Menace II Babylon June 29, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Nice Adrian, somehow I think you know my big brother and that crew……it rough and tough owning a business in Bim, especially the type that caters to a specified market. This in turn because of high rent demands creates exorbitant tourist prices which automatically places local consumership in quarantine. Really? SMH. Is your commodity a monopoly?

    On a cruise at least for me my budget is limited as you on an all inclusive floating hotel and everybody watching pennies unless repeat cruisers. Come off, get towels and souvenirs, a taxi ride through the place, a spot of lunch, sample local trees if your thing, reach back and next destination. Cost of living you don’t get a lot of bang for your buck in Bim. Truth. Same dollar and when you get Dominica, Belize, Jamaica, Antigua, St.Vincent etc you can floss a bit and treat yourself….only country above us is Bermuda…and St. Lucia ah climb hard….

    No business should price themselves out of the local market, thats suicide, they are forced to and then they complain about rent not paid. So they force them out to which no one will take up the lease at stupid money and hey presto pure empty huts. Another local institution gone… Then you know what happens it is kept internally at the port squeezing more small entrepreneurs. Who knows what they have planned as they think about recouping losses without a strategic insight as to why? Give them licences and bring a fraction inside….Therefore a chain of events is constantly ongoing.

    Has any one been down there and even asked how much for even leather sandals….. get out of here with them mickey mouse prices. You cannot price yourself out the local market thats insane but we know why you charge them, when we know where you travel in Caricom for stock.

    Some people expect business to fall in their laps, not all as I know some very pro active business men who in everything including Social Media, and media sources….with little marketing or even considering that maybe locals have money. We dont even target the diaspora, their feeble attempts have been minuscule and look big on paper, as this colonised mentality permeates through our government. Does not matter which side of the road, irrelevant…. Prices + Profit = lease being paid…… This topic is quite repetitive. I am sure you put it in BBT search engine something will pop up. Marketing…. expect a knee jerk reaction from our ministers as they never think proactive but wait and wait and wait…… till shit hits the fan and out pops the umbrellas as no one wants to get splattered.

    Nice site Kudos


  5. Everton Cumberbatch June 29, 2017 at 7:45 am

    And what is the policy response of this all talk and no action Minister? The BIDC is a major subject in his ministry yet for all the talk about everything outside his portfolio this institution struggles to find its way. Some example of one who sees himself as a Prime Minister!!

  6. Ali Baba
    Ali Baba June 29, 2017 at 8:22 am


  7. Nicholas Mackie
    Nicholas Mackie June 29, 2017 at 8:27 am

    The tourists walk into Bridgetown on one side of a 4 lane highway and the stores are on the other side!! ….. Excuse me for asking … Who the hell is responsible for this design?

  8. Alex Alleyne June 29, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Mr. Loveridge, why don’t take over some of the stores and show the others “how it is done”………business wise. It will be GOOD for YOU and BARBADOS.

  9. Bonita Weekes
    Bonita Weekes June 29, 2017 at 8:39 am

    The way that place is built who is going to know what goes on in there? I use the nearby bus stand but it doesn’t even cross my mind to venture across there. The buildings simply say don’t come. I remember when there was a restaurant to the front in the 80’s and you didn’t have to question what it was, it was a hang out spot for some people on Friday evenings. Pelican Village, Eagle Hall Market and the Princess Alice Bus Terminal are some of the worst ideas. That bus stand is only for when it’s sunny, there is no protection from rain and to think that people get good money for doing crap. Maybe the Chinese would have done better.

  10. Habi Tat June 29, 2017 at 8:48 am

    You have people on one side of the road (Trevor’s Way) and a facility on the other (Pelican Village). Would it not make sense to build an overpass, similar to the one opposite CBC, to allow the tourists on ‘Trevor’s Way’ to access Pelican Village?
    Whatever the cost, it would not be as expensive as allowing six acres of prime property to go to waste.

  11. Rubertha Blackman
    Rubertha Blackman June 29, 2017 at 9:11 am

    I use the bus stand there and I watch in amazement at how tourist leave the port and walk right pass the place, they don’t even walk through the complex. Bonita Weekes is correct the building does not invite anyone to enter there. It reminds me of a fortress, however there are some great stores in there. I have visited and shop there and locals would be surprise at the high quality and good prices of the items there. Indigenous craft of locals are a part of any major tourist destination. Not only brand name hotels and rich investors,

  12. Donild Trimp June 29, 2017 at 9:13 am

    @ Jennifer –
    That may be part of it but for years these business people refused to pay rent for the space they are renting.

    This is the entitlement mentality of most Barbadians and it must not be allowed to continue.

    From your overseas experience, can you cite any instances where businesses were allowed to continue occupying spaces while refusing to pay the rent?

    If after 3 years your business cannot turn a profit, it is time to shut down shop and find something else to do.

    Stop being “PARASITES”, development means progress and with progress the “PARASITES” will be left behind complaining like cry babies while the real businesses and business people will advance with the times.

    Enough is enough.

    • jennifer June 29, 2017 at 10:21 am

      @Donild – in case u have not realised we r living in a system of parasitism, both old and new. From all sectors of this society and laden in psyops. However, I can see what u mean. But how can these people pay rent when there Is a problem with capital inflow. But what we need is thinking heads with innovative ideas to give people a fighting chance.   There is more in the morter than in the pestle.

  13. Nicholas Mackie
    Nicholas Mackie June 29, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Where there is no proper vision the people will perish

  14. Menace II Babylon June 29, 2017 at 9:36 am

    In this cutback era when a business collapses it is extremely devastating with the prospect of a new start up really low. Force them out with no payment plan in place which leaves empty chattel houses as NOBODY ain’t paying them lotto money for lease. No strategic management oversight from the complex owners as why? You allow your bricks and mortar business to run up that kind of DEBT? They will reman empty. As either the developers use it for laundering or they not too bothered and don’t owe a fly for the construction and was some of that dodgy free money.

    @ DT ….. sigh……You are right as I aint staying in a business over a year with no turnover. As to the mentality that cajans have that is worldwide everybody want something for nothing…Everyone aint blessed like you, and people believe better must come. Bit by bit like a contagious disease. Another local institution gone. You have to market your business which is bread and butter but as a complex, a property developer, your aim is to make money on your complex, guess your accountants sleeping as you aint owe on that too. Excel and accounting packages never saw the drop in revenue, no alarms rang from quarterly reports and end of financial year…

    Link Adrian (Brilliant Site), use social media and other types and pay staff to flush it that every minute it in your face. Little stage run a Jazz Quartet as When Taxi men taking them back stop off….Attractions, discounts , lunch, bit of live music ….. attractions, lunch etc Sorry I forgot that inside the port. Bajans are the kings and queens of Knee Jerk Responses as never pro active. Its sad to say it is on its last legs….. Few that got connections will get licenses and come inside.


  15. Massiah Street June 29, 2017 at 9:36 am

    The design of the place also has much to do with it. The old Pelican Village was very ‘open plan’ like a community market. These new, closed up fake colonial houses are not as welcoming and inhibit people from entering to look around.

    But it is true that having sales booths in the port itself and having a more comfortable walkway on the other side of the road has something to do with it as well.

  16. Menace II Babylon June 29, 2017 at 9:37 am

    BBT stop sticking up my replies…. stupppesss Listen if you have been given limes you have to make lemonade. Not much else u can do or bottle sell lime juice. The location done deal. Nobody listens to people, no consultation with vendors/public nothing they do as they like and the entrepreneur looses out. If they are it is not advertised and the 2/3 represents an entire chattel industry. Cater to a specialised market you will price yourself out of the local market. Feel you have a monopoly on your specialised commodity. That is entrepreneurial suicide.

  17. jennifer June 29, 2017 at 10:36 am

    What these people need to do is to forget about tourist and sell mock hair, nail shops, bleaching creams, etc. And with low rents they can sell their stuff cheaper than up town. This will bring in some locals.

  18. Mr. Crowley June 29, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I prefer to see the glass half full rather than half empty. This complex is smack in the middle of a transport terminal for local traffic and a sea port terminal for foreign traffic ….it’s really an ideal location. That said, the design is fundamentally flawed for such businesses and the management of the complex (if any exist) seems woefully incompetent at marketing the complex. Moreover, you need to have the right combination of products and services for locals and tourist. In conclusion, all is not lost at this place, you need a vibrant and aggressive marketing organization to take charge and a reconsideration of the business that should be given the opportunity to operate at that location..i.e., not all products/services will do well there.

  19. jennifer June 29, 2017 at 10:42 am

    They could even offer hair braiding. Some tourist like that.

  20. Donild Trimp June 29, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    @ jennifer –

    “What these people need to do is to forget about tourist and sell mock hair, nail shops, bleaching creams, etc. And with low rents they can sell their stuff cheaper than up town. This will bring in some locals”.

    “They could even offer hair braiding. Some tourist like that”.

    There you go, that is what you call progressive thinking with a strategy.

  21. Alex Alleyne June 29, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    In the past, I often pay a visit to the store that make the CASSAVA SHAKES and have one. The LADY is very nice and friendly. She once had a run on VOB .
    Go try them, very tasty.

    • jennifer June 29, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      Yum yum. I will try Alex.

  22. Alex Alleyne June 29, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    For YEARS the guy MARK was trying to set up a BARBER SHOP in the port arrival hall but just cannot get it through to the powers that be. The village will be a good place for it along with the hair braiding once the foot traffic from the port is directed through there.
    That big open space at the bottom of Broad Street where the “parroes” hang out on the benches should be put to proper parking space plus toilets for the TAXI men and stop them from peeing in the alley.

  23. Milli Watt June 29, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    stupse………this is news.

  24. Leslie McGill June 29, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    I am an American of Bajan descent, I am also an artist who has harbored a secret dream of having a gallery in Pelican Village when I retire. I have spoken with several of the businesses and have come to the understanding that the rents are exhorbitant. I know that the Village in its heyday serviced the deep water harbor I also understand that the cruise terminal offers a lot of shops. In order to keep Pelican Village a viable enterprise I would offer a few suggestions.
    1. Lower the rent so vendors can prosper1
    2. Run FREE shuttles from both the cruise terminal AND Bridgetown. Daytrippers from cruise ships will take the Bridgetown tours so they can purchase their Pandora charms, Seiko watches etc duty free when they are done divert them with FREE transport to Pelican Village of true LOCAL flavor. People who go on sightseeing excursions to beaches, historical sites et al will be tired after their tour yet may have several hours to spend before needing to return to the ship. Often they have already walked a lot and while Pelican Village is close it may still be more than they are willing to walk or for those visitors from the northern climes it just may be to hot. Offer free transport too and from!!! Pelican Village is a gem that needs to be promoted and preserved!!!

  25. Donild Trimp June 30, 2017 at 11:31 am

    @ Leslie McGill ——– “Lower the rent so vendors can prosper”.

    Do you understand the difference between “refusing to pay rent” and “unable to pay rent”?

    There is an entitlement mentality in Barbados which must be eradicated first.

    I rented out my condo through an agent to a Barbadian couple with what one would consider in Barbados respectable jobs and they simply refused to pay the rent.

    Of course I got it resolved legally but that entitlement mentality coupled with a bunch of lazy workers are contributing factors towards the demise of Barbados.

  26. Carrington June 30, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    The BIDC should be ashamed. This is a prime example of what NOT to do to a thriving centre which attracted tourists and locals – that was Pelican Village in the early 1980s before it was turned from a welcoming set of simple wooden buildings that saw Mick Jagger sipping rum in the restaurant into an inward looking concrete disaster.


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