Dressed to impress - peanut vendor brings her own style
From as early as 11 a.m. on Mondays to Wednesdays, a sharply dressed Melissa Blake can be seen in the midst of traffic along Trafalgar Road seeking sales for her peanuts and peanut cakes.
The 27-year-old mother of four journeys from Spanish Town to satisfy the tastes of several motorists, passengers, and pedestrians. But what makes her stand out from other street vendors is her attire.
Blake is clad in what most would consider 'office wear', i.e. button-down blouse, tailored skirt and stockings complete with formal-looking flats.
Blake explained that she has been selling peanuts for as long as she can remember as she would sometimes accompany her mother to the streets as a child.
She used the money she made then to finance her education.
Chance to interact
However, she has been selling for herself for five years now, and strives never to take home any of her stock.
"I am doing this to send my children to school, that is the reason why I dress like this," she told THE STAR. The holder of a stage one teacher's certificate, which qualifies her to be a basic school teacher, Blake said that it is a joy to be in the streets selling her peanuts because it gives her the chance to interact with a variety of individuals.
Even while she was pregnant with two of her four children, the oldest is seven, she was in the skin stinging sun soliciting sales.
"If I put the sun on my mind, I wouldn't be doing it. We all know the sun is hot but I can't let that stop me," Blake said.
She schedules her selling days with her babyfather, who is also a peanut vendor, so they can rotate in caring for their children.
"(When) I come Monday to Wednesday ... their dad look after them and when he is on the road, Thursday to Friday, I am home with the kids," she said.
With peanuts priced at $70 and $150, she says customer sometimes question the cost.
However, Blake, who journeys to St Elizabeth to purchase raw peanuts, explains that the quality of her products are better than those of some of her competitors as they are buying foreign peanuts and selling them at a cheaper price.
Blake said she also wants to open her own business.
"I want to register it and see if I can get a store so I can start to distribute to supermarkets. At that time, I want to print my logo and name on the shirts," she said.
Despite being the victim of several accidents in the past, she says she still wants to continue doing what she loves.