News

Shoemaker fears that his trade is dying

By KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, March 17, 2014    

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MARK Pryce makes a living repairing shoes, but the 53-year-old is concerned that the art of shoemaking is slowing dying.

"The increase in the importation of cheap shoes into the island is one of the reason for this development," said Pryce.

He raised the concern last week while sitting around the rusty lock stitch machine in a dilapidated building off Waltham Park Road, that he calls his place of business.

His face was a picture of concentration as he held a shoe under the machine. He explained that many of the shoe products that are being imported into the island are inferior products.

The man who has more than 30 years experince in the trade, broke for a few minutes to search for another pair of shoes from the large pile.

"Things and times are hard and you find that a number of the customers are not willing to spend to buy quality or local products that could last," said Pryce, who leads a group of family members plying the trade on the busy thoroughfare.

Alanza Pryce, 39, is the nephew of the senior shoemaker. He believes that along with the influx of inferior products, the closure of several organisations that sold shoe products has also affected the growth of the trade.

"What you find is that a number of the places where you could go to purchase products are no longer in operation. This places a strain on the business," said the younger Pryce, who is also called Shawn.

In that regard, the two are suggesting that Government places greater focus on skills training in schools, as part of efforts to prepare youth to secure or create jobs for themselves.

Shoemaking, they said, should be introduced in schools.

"Nothing is wrong with getting students educated in academics, but with what is happening in the local job market many students are graduating from schools with their certification but are still unemployed," said the elder Pryce.

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