Bassy - Love Vine
November 18, 2022
Market vendors are business people too

Lie-Za say is wickedness what dey doing to our beloved Market Vendors or Street Vendors. Ah had to agree wid her and told her Market Vendors go ah long way back in our History, dey are no “fly-by-night” at all.

I recall back in de 1950’s as ah lickle nine year ole youth, it was ah pleasure when my Granny would send me to de Market, every Sat-day morning wid ah dollar to shop foh meat and ground provision foh home.

Things were dirt cheap: Dat dollar uses to buy beef, liver, fish, eddoes, tannias, potatoes, chives, tomatoes. From Granny’s dollar ah still had ah shilling pocket change.

Coming to think about it de market always looked crowded wid vendors; shoppers bumped into each other but everybody went about dey jolly way shopping.

But today 70 years after, people have changed. Everybody seems to be occupying somebody else’s space, Market Vendors are not being given de respect and appreciation dey deserve for de positive contribution dey make to de economy. Many years ago dey have been coming from all over. Dey came by boat from Bequia wid dey corn-fish and whale, and black fish from Leeward. Back den dey occupied around de Market Block, below de Police Barracks, along Bay Street down to PH Veira, and along Bedford Street.

P.H. Veira came and met de vendors and he gone lef dem.

Vendors, mainly our women folks, are on de streets because of de survival of dey family. Dey have expenses like de big man or woman in high offices. I have heard female Street Vendors speak wid pride of having children in University, Community College, Secondary schools. Dey have mortgages, utility bills. Dey are aware dat Go-venom-mint cannot find work foh everybody and so dey are doing dey best, only to be shut down, and have dey efforts crushed.

Dey have to stomach derogatory remarks bout de Street Vendors messing up de town. While Go-venom-mint meking ah complete mess ah de country; dey teking Vendors mek scape-goat.

De truth is de authorities sat back and allowed de vendors to do dey own thing. Knocking up two pieces ah discarded box-crate and call dem counters and stalls.
But as ugly and as unsightly as de stalls look, de Town Board is always present every day to collect rent for vending space.

Everything has multiplied over de years, de number of vehicles, pedestrians and vendors have outgrown lickle Kingstown. It is ah serious challenge, but we shouldn’t just drop ah heavy hammer and say dat de solution to de problem in Kingstown is vending so we have to “Clean dem out!” why not “Clean dem up!”

Has anybody ever given thought to rearranging de flow of traffic, during certain times of de day. Maybe one-way on certain streets in particular areas where vending is heavy. Has anybody at Town Board ever given thought about building an orderly line of small timber stalls, along de side of de streets (covering de gutters), Have dem colourfully painted an attractive to shoppers or visitors.

I am sure dey’s ah lot more dat can be done to mek Kingstown look cleaner and tidier dan just punishing and victimizing poor vendors who are only trying to mek ah decent and honest living.

And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.