Monday 18th February, 2008


Craft vendors: Low Carnival sales

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Craft items on display at booths around the Queen’s Park
Savannah, weeks after the end of Carnival activities at the Savannah. Craft vendors blame the National Carnival Commission for their woes.
Photo: Ian Gooding

By Ian Gooding

Members of the T&T Leathercraft Association (TTLA) who set up shop around the Queen’s Park Savannah this carnival are still complaining about the low sales they suffered during the festival.

They are blaming the National Carnival Commission (NCC) for erecting their tents on Carnival Friday which they say was much too late to attract the usual number of customers.

“We normally come out on the Saturday before Panorama,” said Gerald Raphael a vendor. “We remain with plenty things. I come from Point Fortin next to Licensing Office on the Main Road. I make plenty things. My brother here come from Couva. Now we have all these things remain on our hands.”

His business is called Gerico Leather and Craftsmen, comprising five men who practice their craft all year. “We make a wide range of craft from a lot of local material,” he said with disappointment in his voice.

“I believe that if we could get a say when they (NCC) organising their meetings for Carnival, then we could avoid this problem,” he said.

Another vendor called Judah said that while his sales were good they could have been much better, if it were not for the late setting up of the tents.

He said the NCC gave them only a tent for which they had to pay $500 and all the vendors had to provide their own decorations and other things to make their tents attractive.

Judah complained that the setting up of the stands pushed them down around the Savannah and spectators had to walk around the stands and “plenty people loss sales there.

“They need to have a little chat with the craftspersons and exchange ideas, because we ain’t too big to learn nothing or too small to give an idea.”

Another craftsman claimed that many of them stayed away this year because of the problems they were having with the NCC.

“They even put a bar in front of we and take up space that another craftman could have used,” he charged. “They running the craftsmen.”

Another, Selmon Johnson, said that he invested close to $30,000 to prepare for the Carnival and he would not recover even a half of that.

“Last year we went to the media to complain and we thought it would be better, but it was worse. All they give us is a tent and we had to do everything for ourselves.”

President of the TTLA Sean Forde, said that the late setting up of the tents for the craftsmen was only one of the many problems they faced this year. He cited the lack of enough activities in the Savannah as another cause for poor sales.

Every year, he said, the craftsmen seemed to be the last thing on the NCC’s mind and were it not for repeat overseas customers, things would be very bad.

“Until somebody sits down and have dialogue with us in a meaningful way and accept us for who we are as entrepreneurs, we will be having the same problems year after year,” he said.