Sun | Dec 11, 2016

Mixed economic outlook for Ironshore small business operators

Published:Saturday | January 10, 2015 | 12:00 AMKarrie Williams
Kelesia Kelly
Lynola Hanson
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WESTERN BUREAU:

Operators of micro and small enterprises in the Ironshore commercial district in Montego Bay have given mixed views regarding their expectations for revenue generation in 2015.

Whereas some business operators are feeling upbeat, claiming a bright start to the year, others are far less enthused, citing poor sales and low patronage, which they further claim is a continuance of their performances last year.

For Dave Wint, who operates the David and Subs clothing store at the four-year-old Whitter Village shopping centre, the prospects are not as bright, particularly because his business has been negatively impacted by the constant devaluation of the Jamaican dollar.

"The exchange rate has had a big impact on David and Subs, and another thing too, most of the bills that we have in Jamaica now are in US dollars, and the dollar keeps going up every day, so that is impacting us. I think it's gonna be a very rough year for small businesses in Jamaica, because those things have a major impact on the profit margin, as the overheads are so high," he said.

"Still, the economy is going down in a sense, so you have to make plans and add new items to keep the people coming. Two years ago, it costs like $800,000.00 to buy US$10,000.00; now it's costing $1.1 million, and the people have less disposable income now than before, so you have to be buying the goods for more and selling it for less," Wint, who also operates other franchises at Gloucester Avenue in Montego Bay and in Ocho Rios, said.

Also sharing Wint's gloomy projection is Lynola Hanson, owner of R&N Touch of Beauty Salon, at the Blue Diamond Shopping Centre.

"The new year has started very, very slow. So far, I don't see where it's going to happen because last year was also slow and its getting slower every day," she said. "Based on my business, I'm depending on tourists and even they are crying too ... it's so sad. Sometimes it hurts my heart to know that every day I come here and close up the same way I came in," she added.

But Fiona Pottinger, owner of Fountains Salon and Day Spa, located in the Whitter Village, is one of the operators that share a positive outlook. Pottinger told Western Focus that she was having a vibrant January and expects that her business will continue this level of performance throughout the year.

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"It is looking good. There is great potential, and with my faith involved, I am feeling optimistic ... the New Year has started well and I expect more growth throughout the year. I always remain positive, so I'm expecting great things to happen," she said.

Kelesia Kelly, operator of Outriders Bike Rental and Tours, located at the Blue Diamond Shopping Centre, is also enthusiastic. Citing a positive start to the year, Kelly says plan were in place to further grow her business which specialises in islandwide tours and motor bike and bicycle sales and rentals.

"I think it's good so far. The year has started good ... we had a good Christmas and it's getting better every week. I believe this trend will continue as we continue to grow the business," Kelly said.