Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
MELROSE HILL, Manchester:VENDORS AT the Melrose Hill Yam Place are lamenting the slow turn in business, which they say started with the global recession.
Notwithstanding this, they still continue to serve up the tasty roasted yam and salt fish, which people from near and far stop to purchase.
Originally located at the old Melrose Hill Road in Manchester, they moved to their current location on the Melrose Highway close to 13 years ago. With the building of the new highway, Windalco relocated the vendors to a more modern set-up with better stalls and proper bathroom facilities.
One of the vendors, Rose Ferguson, has been selling roasted yam for more than 30 years.
"I met somebody in Blue Mountain who used to sell the roasted yam, and I just started from then," Ferguson said.
She said business was better in the old days.
"Things used to be better. We used to make better money," Rose disclosed.
"Here is nicer, but the problem we have is that on the highway, the vehicles travel fast. Only a few persons stop. On the old road, traffic used to travel slower. Sometimes we used to sell people in traffic without their vehicle stopping."
Ferguson sells roasted yam with cooked salt fish, roasted sweet potatoes, and roasted corn.
"We buy yam from people in Manchester, but the best yam to roast is the Trelawny yams because they are more moist or soft," she explained.
The mother of four said if more people were stopping, business would be much better.
"We have customers from the old-road days and ones that we have met since we are here, but we need more business," Rose said. "Seems like things just tough all 'round. No money nah run, but we still have to try anyway."
The yam stalls recently got a new facelift from Red Stripe, and Ferguson hopes the new look and better marketing will attract more customers.
"Sometimes we come out early and all 10 o'clock, nothing nuh mek. Maybe if they advertise us more with better signs, things like that, more people would know about us and want to stop."
BETTER MARKETING NEEDED
Shelly McLean, another of the original vendors from the old road who is from Blue Mountain, expressed similar sentiments.
"We need proper marketing. Same like how they advertise place like Dunn's River. This is a part of our culture. They (Government) can do more in advertising it. Things would be better for us," McLean said.
Andrew Wilson, popularly known as Willie, a roasted yam vendor of 18 years, is still hopeful for better despite the lull in sales.
"We have everything to our convenience. This facility is very good. I believe it has the potential to be a very popular spot," he said. "I am not giving up, still. This is all that we know, so we're just praying that things will change for the better."