Destination Downtown: Vendors vex - Slow sales, lack of order leave higglers fuming
Downtown Kingston remains a central point for several vendors to earn their living but the long running controversy about where persons are allowed to sell is not going away.
The Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) says it wants orderly vending restricted to the prescribed areas, the merchants say the do not want vendors blocking the doors to their businesses, vendors in the markets and arcades say they are loosing sales to street side vendors, while those selling on the streets say this is the only way for them to make a living.
For town clerk Robert Hill, commerce is the lifeblood of downtown Kingston and the KSAC is working on a plan to facilitate everyone who wants to sell in the market district.
According to Hill, the KSAC is seeking to arrange partnerships to improve vending conditions in downtown Kingston while ensuring that vendors stay away from the no-vending areas.
"We are still trying to look some financial and other partnerships for the time being. I know it is a difficult thing and it is not easily solved, but I am still working on a proposal," Hill told The Gleaner.
"The idea is really to expand the market space, but we are still in a preliminary stage, so I cannot commit to much at this stage," added Hill.
"We have to have some consultation with the vendors, even those who are illegal to see how much can be done, but before that I have to have to meet with the policy makers."
But even as the KSAC seeks to deal with age old problem vendors selling on the streets of the market district last week expressed their displeasure with the police constantly chasing them from the streets as they try to make an honest bread.
However others selling in the markets and arcades said they want the vending rules applied as they are paying the required fees and loosing business to persons who set up their stall anywhere they choose.
With everyone wanting to defend their position our news team last wee asked vendors in downtown Kingston: "What is sales like at this time and what could be done to improve the performance of your business?"
"At the present moment, it is just hand to mouth, as you can see the police are taking us off the streets. We have to be playing a cat and mouse game. Business is worse this time around. I think we the sellers need to be more organised."
"Business slow, but I see where it is picking up. I feel like Digicel could offer us some stalls or organise stuff so we can get some stalls on the sidewalk and then the policy makers work it out so thing can go better for both of us."
"Well it is not fast now, but as one would expect things will be faster more in December than summer. I think that in order to improve the place, the policy makers have to come down here and talk a good look the state of things."
"Nothing not really happening now, because I have to be up and down to get a sale. People cry about the prices and even though we take it off it's just the same thing. Compared to Christmas it is the same thing and because it is an everyday thing it's difficult. Well I think the country with the economic system has to change. We need to start find a way to produce and import less."
"Things are really bad now and people are not coming this side where the market is much, because of the other vendors on the road. They need to organise in one place so the customers can come to us. No one is even coming this side of the market."
"Thing are not so bad around this time. I guess you do get to earn a living, but I think we need more protection, because when people get rob they have no interest in coming this side of town any more.
"I can't believe it is month end. From the other day I notice that the month ends are not adding up at all. The load is here, but no sales coming in. They need to clean up Beckford Street and have more police on that side to make sure it is cleaned up."