Christiana Market bursting at its seams
Lines of clothing stretch acrossthe walls in the Christiana Marketin Manchester last Wednesday.(Photos: Karl Mclarty)

Clothes vendors selling in Christiana Market in Manchester are clamouring for more shops and stalls to conduct their businesses.

But municipal and commercial services manager at Manchester Municipal Corporation Janice Mundle told the Jamaica Observer that in order for those vendors to get the extra space, they would have to pay additional rent.

She indicated that the entity is adamant about that decision, given that currently vendors owe almost a million dollars in unpaid rent.

“The fee is $500 per stall, so if they want to use even three stall spaces, they have to pay the $1,500 per week. What they are doing is using five, six, seven stalls and they want them for free, when it doesn't work that way,” said Mundle.

“I just got a listing for the market manager last week and people owe up to $70,000. That goes to show how much they are not paying for the stalls. I was shocked to get a listing with those figures and I didn't even know this was happening,” added Mundle.

When the Observer visited the market recently the clothes vendors argued that the $500 fee was too much for the small space.

“It hard fi me pay $500 for this space. Nobody else comes in here because dem wah get the bigger money out a road so we just occupy the space. So why we can't spread out?” said Hillary Rutherford.

She suggested that if vendors had their own small shops, the market would be facilitated by more vendors and would attract more buyers.

Another vendor, who did not wish to be named, said, “Dem announce say one a dis [stall] a fi $500, it cannot work. How me goods ago hold? The market need fi refurbish.”

While another clothes vendor, 47-year-old Juliette Powell, shared a similar position.

“It is so pressuring for us to pack out and pack up back wi clothes. So build the shops so wi can feel more secure in here,” argued Powell.

She added that in shops, buyers would also get more privacy when fitting clothes before purchasing them.

There were a handful of clothes vendors who had lines and racks of clothing displayed a good distance from each other in the market. Other sections had empty stalls which were numbered to indicate a specific spot for vendors.

Responding to the request for shops, Mundle said there is inadequate space.

“The shops that are there are fully utilised, all of them are gone. If they want to expand they have to be outside of the market because we cannot build shops inside the market or on the grounds. Some of these persons have expanded and outgrown the market but they don't want to leave. The market is full to capacity in terms of building from cookshops to arcade shops. If they can't operate within the stalls, they have to find a shop or get a store elsewhere. Only the market house is there and we cannot make shops there,” declared Mundle.

In the meantime, a few produce vendors who were in the market's parking lot told the Observer that they had no problem doing business there.

According to 55-year-old produce vendor Bertram Young, it is better for the clothes vendors to sell inside the market.

“When it rains, the clothes people would have a problem outside. Wi don't have a problem being outside because wi can do a quick cover up of the goods and it will [be] alright but the clothes being wet would be worse,” said Young.

Another produce vendor, who asked not to be named, shared that she was very comfortable operating outside the market.

“Is out here mi sell from long time. Wi alright out here. Is inside the market space wi deh and not on the street suh police cyan harass we,” said the woman who declared that she still pays her market fee despite operating on the outside.

Asked if there were any plans to improve the market, chief executive officer at Manchester Municipal Corporation Winston Palmer said, “It's not that annually you get a capital budget to do major repairs or expansion or renovation. You have to wait till it run down and the minister or somebody come see it and then ask for something to be done. The fees that are being charged in the market cannot cover the operating cost. There is no money being generated from the revenues to do any major upgrading. That is the problem.”

Fifty-five-year-old produce vendor Bertram Young, who was busy packing a bag with peppers, says hehas no problem selling outside the Christiana Market.
Clothes vendor Mollo at the Christiana Market shows the smallspace that he and his colleagues are suppose to utilise for selling.
Clothes vendor Juliette Powell demands small shops in the Christiana Market, Manchester.
Clothes vendor Hillary Rutherford says it is tough paying $500 for a small selling space in ChristianaMarket.
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON Observer staff reporter hutchinsonb@jamaicaobserver.com

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