Mini-marts and village shops, for decades sidelined by consumers as large supermarkets mushroomed across the country, have been praised by the Minister for Small Business for their role in ensuring continued access to food and sanitary supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland made the comment to the media today, following a tour of Montrose Supermarket, Montrose, Christ Church and Marshall’s Minimart, Four Roads, St Philip. He said that the shopkeepers have also been able to employ staff and give consumers easy access to goods.
Sutherland said: “Instead of travelling to Bridgetown to shop with the bigger retailers, the Government took the conscious decision that these minimarts and small supermarkets and village shops must be opened to cater to the public and it helped to stem the spread of the pandemic and we are doing pretty well from our statistics.
“And we want to compliment the minimarts and the village shops for playing their role as we sought not only to provide foods for the average household but to make sure that the spread of the virus was not rampant throughout Barbados.
“I must say there is no price gouging between the two supermarkets and mini-marts that I saw. There were no complaints of price gouging. They were checked and indeed they maintained their margins that they had pre-COVID to now.”
Sutherland also commended Montrose Supermarket for employing just over 20 people during the crisis.
The Minister also praised the two businesses for mandating that shoppers and employees follow the social distancing and good hygiene protocols.
He noted that the management of both shops advised him that they have three months supply in stock and are in the process of preparing for the hurricane season which starts on June 1.
The Minister said from what he learnt about the history of the two establishments he toured, he was pleased that there is a continuation of family businesses which he said are a valuable part of the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.
He said the fact that the Four Roads minimart was now being managed by the founder’s grand-daughter who took over from her father is testimony that inter-generational wealth is alive on the island.
Sutherland said: “We have seen years ago businesses would have died as a result of the death of the pioneers, mainly black businesses. But the trend has changed and we are now seeing these businesses being taken over by great-grands and grandchildren who are bringing a different focus and this is the age of technology. I am pleased to report to Barbados that commerce in St Philip and in Christ Church is alive and I am pleased that customers had other places to shop other than the big retailers.” [email protected]
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