‘It come like a February’ - Furniture makers struggle with dead Christmas spirit
Usually at this time of the year, furniture makers are booked and busy as many seek to update the look of their homes. But that's not the case for Christmas 2020.
Morris Parkinson, 49, a woodworker on West Street in downtown Kingston, says the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt the Christmas spirit. Parkinson, who has been doing woodwork since he was a boy, says that usually at this time of the year, he would've been drowning in requests for all sorts of furniture to be ready for Christmas or New Year's Day.
"None of that nah gwan now. In past time, it hot! Plenty jobs. From me lef' school as a yute, me learn trade right here. In the November here ... everything stand still. It come like a February. Right now you have to use your experience and yuh skill and then draw fi di lickle weh yuh did save fi a rainy day. A dat mek yuh survive likkle," Parkinson told THE STAR.
Limited supply of materials
And another burden on the market now is the limited supply of materials. Parkinson says because of the recent road damage, it's difficult to obtain the necessary materials for his work.
"Lumber and everything gone. We caa get lumber 'cause road block. The rain have a lot to do with that, yes, but COVID mash up everything from the beginning. The rain just come cause more problem," he said.
Sheldon Wilson sells custom-made beds, and he too hasn't seen any Christmas rush.
"Right yah now, nothing nah gwan like last year, and me nuh know if things a go pick up. It stiff right now. Me nuh see the time a get busy or nothing ... a just the same! Me nah see none a dat now. Me just afi a keep it pon the same level. So, me just make two bed a day. Usually when a Christmas, me a do all eight bed. Eight bed a day gone dung to two," he said.
Furniture maker Mark Walker, who resides in Portmore, St Catherine, found a market for his skill in downtown Kingston years ago. But today, he barely has a market.
"COVID affect the thing bad, bad! From COVID, everything raise. Material raise, board raise, nail raise, and the bed leg dem raise. And then them hard fi get ... we caa get the board. But we still deh yah a look it same way," he lamented.
Walker says that for the most part, he is paying more to source his materials, but there is little to no sale for his products.
"Is a big loss. God bless me if me see a one sale today. Sometime, all fi three day straight me nuh sell nothing, but me still put out and a watch di road. Me woulda go harder on a Saturday, because the next day a Sunday and food affi cook. Me have me yute dem fi take care of. It wicked, but me still have hope same way," he shared.