The recently rebuilt Guyana Shop, part of the wider Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) is now offering both showroom and marketing space for manufactured products produced by more than 50 local entrepreneurs.
Products ranging from table wines to dried seasoning are displayed on the shelves of what, in all likelihood, is the last remaining state-run retail entity, though the management of the GMC is keen to promote the facility as a marketing rather than a retail outlet which is why the commercial space that comprises the scores of small businesses associated with the Bourda Market is not perceived as competition.
Apart from the fact that the Guyana Shop has built up its own weekend clientele, GMC official Haydock Thompson told Stabroek Business that regular customers apart, the Guyana Shop benefits from visits from other customers seeking to acquire locally produced food items which serve as gifts or form part of the Christmas cuisine that adorn the dining tables of Guyanese residing overseas.
Thompson says that since the reopening of the Guyana Shop approximately a month ago, patronage has been heartening though he says that the promotion of the local manufacturing sector rather than the realization of profits is the shop’s priority, the reason why the busy Bourda Market area is not regarded as a threat. The Guyana Shop, according to Thompson keeps its prices at least on par with those of the vendors that operate in and around the municipal markets.
Despite the fact that the Guyana Shop displays scores of locally produced items, Thompson says it limits itself to retail sales only. He explains that wholesale orders are referred to the manufacturers since the object of the facility is to create and maximize market opportunities for manufacturers.
Thompson says part of the Guyana Shop’s responsibility is to seek out and engage agro-processors in order to make available to them the marketing opportunity afforded by the facility though, frequently, the shop is approached by manufacturers seeking an outlet and marketing opportunity. He alluded to the case of the local snack foods manufacturer Mood Foods, pointing out that having ‘discovered’ the company’s products, the GMC worked with the manufacturer to improve their packaging.
The overarching responsibility of the GMC includes embracing emerging manufacturers and working with them to realize product enhancement as well as improvement in presentation through better packaging and labelling. That apart, the corporation’s outreach programme includes establishing and maintaining relationships with local raw material producers, primarily farmers, to ensure that the appropriate farming techniques and safety and health measures are applied in the cultivation stages of the project.
Stabroek Business understands that Waini Naturals, a manufacturing group from the Barima-Waini region is cashing in on the health consciousness of consumers with their Crabwood Oil Soap which is currently being marketed at around $1,000 per bar. The group’s Crabwood therapeutic oil and skin cream which is sold under the brand name Secrets are also good sellers.
As Christmas approaches the Guyana Shop has begun to stock a range of products that are relatively new to the market including Savory’s Pepperpot Sauce, two brands of massala, Amchar and Halwa, which are manufactured by Taste Setters. Another local manufacturing group, Peppy’s has revisited the packaging of its food spices and now presents them in imported spice shakers. The shop now stocks about 15 new products.
Thompson told Stabroek Business that starting December 1 the shop will be launching a ‘buy local’ promotion that positions customers who purchase a minimum of $2,000 in locally produced goods to win hampers of items produced in Guyana. Drawings will be held each Saturday during the month of December. Additional efforts to promote locally produced products include a Christmas hamper initiative which, Thompson says will see The Guyana Shop seeking to persuade public and private sector companies to utilize local hampers as Christmas gifts. During the holiday period some agro-processors will be on hand at the Guyana Shop to offer tasting and sampling of their products.
Thompson says the planned participation in international trade shows and the linking of overseas investors with local producers also provides additional distinct marketing opportunities for agro processors who work with the GMC.