The annual Crop-Over and Christmas seasons and the month of Independence, are three festive times of year that large, medium and small size wholesale and retail businesses, as well as small business operators and entrepreneurs are afforded the opportunity to generate sales. Traditionally, these times of year are known for generating seasonal employment. This is important to the economic well-being to any economy, and hence there ought to be immense significance given to the marketing and promotion of activities, that will drive people to attend and to spend.
In the instance of the Crop-Over Festival, it is envisaged that greater spend will occur. There is every good reason to believe that during this period, employment levels rise as a result of all the associated activities.
Costume band houses are busy preparing costumes for the revellers participating in Foreday Mornin’ and Grand Kadooment, respectively. There are the calypso tents, in addition to the many advertised fetes and other promotions. These are but a few of the activities which utilise many forms of labour that may have been partly active for most of the year.
In reviewing the business activity at the Crop-Over Festival over the years, there seems to be a sense of sameness of what there is to be found. It is expected that food and beverage would always dominate. However, it would seem that there is a lack of creativity when it comes to the food element.
Everybody seems to sell the same thing. It is likely that those vendors who make some returns on their investment, do so largely because their operations benefit from the patronage of a known clientele, and possibly from the attractiveness of the stall or operations.
The small business persons or entrepreneurs who invest in the festival, need to carefully weigh the pros and cons before going into the venture. It is important to first assess the risks factors. Since making a profit ought to be at the core of the operation, planning is therefore essential.
Based on observations, it would seem that many of the small operations on the Spring Garden Highway this year, would be counting their losses. However, this ought not to be a deterrent. Persons should be aware that competition surrounds business activity.
This experience should therefore provide the basis for individuals to review what needs to be done to make their offerings better and more attractive to the public.
Whereas the National Cultural Foundation, as organisers of the festival may have played its part in putting the required infrastructure in place, it still ought to recognise that it has a responsibility to encourage vending.
The imposition of more charges on the purchase of stall space, such as the environmental levy which was introduced this year, can certainly drive away small business persons and entrepreneurs who are challenged to meet basic set up costs. Surely, the NCF understands that help is needed in order that the informal sector may grow and develop.
Those vendors investing in the festival ought to be given more opportunities to recover cost and make a profit. This thinking should be at the centre of any consideration of the reorganisation of festival activities. It has been suggested that Foreday Mornin’ could be placed on a separate day. This is a great idea, as it ought not to coincide with the calypso finals.
Following the calypso finals, a jump-up on the Spring Garden Highway can be introduced, featuring live performances by some of the popular artistes of the festival. On the Saturday following the finals, can be the usual Bridgetown Market and at midnight, the Foreday Mornin’ mas should commence. The idea of starting Foreday at 7 p.m. does not square with the concept, and ought not to be entertained. On the Sunday, the action should return to the Bridgetown Market to be followed by Cohobblopot in the evening; leaving Monday as the day for revellers to take to the streets for Grand Kadooment.
This arrangement should satisfy the vendors, offer the public more party time, and provide the police, emergency personnel and other Officials, much needed respite.
* Dennis de Peiza is a Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.
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