As public sector job cuts continue, vendors are bracing for more competitors in high foot traffic areas and likely overcrowding that Minister of Small Business Dwight Sutherland is seeking to prevent.
Bustling Swan Street was the focus of Sutherland’s attention as he toured the City street mall this morning.
“When we walk Swan Street we can see that it is a little cramped and I know BARVEN (The Barbados Association of Retailers, Vendors and Entrepreneurs) has raised the matter of space as a critical issue. Space utilisation will be critical going forward,” said Sutherland, who was visiting vendors and stores along Swan Street this morning.
The minister noted that while Government plans to build out new designated spaces for vending, entrepreneurs must think beyond the conventional commercial methods.
“There is a type of vending that utilises car parks. I know BARVEN has a plan where vending in car park spaces will become one of the key aspects of the sector in Bridgetown. We still have other spaces that we need to utilise. I understand it is tough times and people have been laid off but we should not limit vending to the streets. People who were laid off could drive around selling their products from their vehicles,” said Sutherland.
The minister said the policy will extend beyond Swan Street and the capital City. “Another area that is under utilized is beach vending. So we the Government has to help to create the infrastructure.”
The Minister of Small Business is of view that in order to encourage more out-of-the- box thinking, the antiquated mind set towards the sector has to change.
He declared that gone are the days when vending was seen as a last resort for person who had no other employment options. He pointed out that university graduates were now looking to vending as the gateway to their business aspiration and these new entrants were incorporating technology into their trade.
“We need to empower vendors and we need to create the atmosphere whereby technology in vending is the norm. We are speaking about creating a smart Bridgetown but what would a smart Bridgetown look like without vendors? So we need the vendors to utilize technology to provide customers with options. Vending has reached a stage where it has to be innovative and creative and it has to fit with the country’s development,” said Sutherland.
“There are university graduates who are vendors so gone are days where vendors are seen as persons who buy potatoes or yams from a plantation.”