No Success in craft market - Vendors suffering from lack of sales
Vendors at the Success Craft Market in Rose Hall, St James, are desperately appealing for more cruise and stop-over visitors to be taken to shop there.
"Over here a poor house ... A so we come here, a so we go home. No business," said Mercedes Spencer, who has been a vendor at the craft market for more than 20 years.
"The last time we have a customer was in June when a guest did a go to airport and need to use a bathroom and she buy something for US$35. You have tourists coming from Falmouth going Shoppes at Rose Hall, Blue Diamond, and Montego Bay, and we nuh get one stop from them. It pains my heart every time I see the bus dem pass," she added.
The Success Craft Market is located across from the Sea Castles hotel, which closed its doors a few years ago. Since the closure, residents say that they have been struggling to make ends meet and have called on Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who is also the member of Parliament for the area, to do something to assist them.
"People deh here seven days a week and not one tourist pass through," Spencer said.
The craft vendors explained that they have tirelessly written that and visited the offices of the Ministry of Tourism, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), and other agencies in the sector but to no avail.
The vendors say that the only saving grace is their relationship with Hilton Hotel, which allows them to ply their wares on the property. However, given that the craft market has over 40 registered vendors, this is less than ideal.
"We have the preference to go on the hotel, but it is done in rotation and takes two weeks and two days for each person to get a chance, and sometimes we nuh make nutn and we have to pay US$25 dollars for transportation," said one vendor.
OPERATING IN DEBT
To make matters worse, a monthly $2,000 maintenance fee for the market in addition to a monthly $2,700 fee charged by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) is required of each vendor. This, coupled with daily expenses, which the vendors say run in excess of $1,000, means that some persons are operating in debt.
"Some people are very sick, but they still have to come here because they don't have any other means of obtaining an income," said Stafford Stewart, the president of the Success Craft Market.
"People are always in debt. They will have their last money to buy medication, but because the rent due or their licence needs to renew for $1,300, they will have to use it to pay. Yet they can't make a sale because there is no business coming at the craft market," he added.
Stewart also said that the market infrastructure needs some rehabilitation and that he has had no success in reaching Bartlett. He stated that a lot of the time, he feels like quitting, but his love for crafting keeps, in the trade.
"It is my business, and I love craft. I would just like to see this market be number one in St James again like when it was just opened. Success Craft Market needs some attention," said Stewart.