Back-to-school shopping underway, vendors unimpressed

School shopping at Brassonic

The hustle and bustle for the back-to-school shopping is in full swing around Georgetown as parents are busy picking up items to get their children ready for the new school term beginning on Monday.

Among the shoppers along Regent Street on Monday were Vasumati Sugrim and her sister Basumati Sugrim, both of Greenfield, Mahaica, East Coast Demerara.

Vasumatie said all of the items were available in her area but she preferred to travel to the city to shop for her son, mainly to cash the school voucher valued $2,000.

She also used the opportunity to purchase the other items while there because she got “better quality and better bargains.”

Asked whether she shopped from the vendors on the pavement or from the store, she responded that she went into the Indian stores and got everything she wanted.

Unlike her, Basumati did her shopping at Mahaica and only came to town so she could use the school voucher for her son. No store in their area was accepting the vouchers.

This newspaper also caught up with a grandmother who was getting the final shopping done for three of her six grandchildren who are in her care.

She started purchasing school items for them since the holiday started. The only item she had left back for the last minute, she said, was the footwear because “their foot would grow…”

She bought almost everything from the pavement because it was “more convenient.” The woman said she found the prices to be higher this year, noting that last year she purchased a pair of sneakers for one of her grandsons for $2,500 and this year she paid $4,000 for the same type.

The pavement was lined with backpacks, footwear, uniforms, rags, ribbons and many other items and the vendors called out to people as they passed by to “stop and shop” and also asked “what yuh shopping?”

Some shoppers looked at them and kept on walking, some stopped to find out prices while a few others made purchases.

Most of the vendors were reluctant to speak to this reporter, with some saying that they were frustrated because business was slow and others just simply saying “no comment.”

One vendor told this newspaper that the sales was “not like we’re accustomed to. We catching it one, one. You ain’t see people just walking up and down? This is worse than last year; people buying one, one and this is the last week. But at least we can still live.”

According to an elderly vendor, the sales were “not like before.” She said the same Indian and Chinese stores that they purchase from in wholesale quantities also started offering wholesale prices to the public.

“That is not fair,” she said. “We buy from them to make a living. Only one store used to sell wholesale to everybody and that is Broadway Fashion.”

Referring to the shoppers, she said, “Ah can’t blame them. Everybody looking to save a dollar, especially if they shopping for more than one children.”

She was still hoping that the sales would increase by Saturday “because people don’t have money yet.”

A mother who was walking along Regent Street with her children said she would purchase from either the pave or the stores.

“I prefer to shop around where I would get better bargains and I may get nicer items in the stores,” she said.

Shamdas Kirpalani on Regent Street, which offers all of the items for school, including all types of stationery, footwear, uniforms and lunch boxes, was packed as parents tried to get “everything under one roof.”

A staffer said they have stocked a wide range of items of good quality at wholesale and retail prices, which can “reach the pockets of everyone.” There is also fabric for those who prefer custom made uniforms.

The store, which belong to an Indian national, started selling the school supplies about two weeks after school closed but the rush “picked up from the beginning of August.”

According to the staff, it is easier for parents to take their children there to shop because the store has

air-conditioning and they can do so in the comfort and not feel tired.

She also said that they stock a wide range of Indian clothing, accessories and religious household items.

This newspaper also went to the Vendors’ Arcade where a variety of school supplies were available.

Many of the vendors were apparently too shy speak but one woman said this is the first year that she hardly got any sale when it was so close to the reopening of school.

According to another vendor, “Right now the school rush is not really on compared to last year. At this time it is usually hot. I don’t know what is happening.”

She was still hoping that “business would pick up because sometimes we get a lot of late shopping.”

Another Water Street vendor, when asked about the sales, told this newspaper, “It’s not, it could be better. We need to make more money.”

Some customers were seen trying on footwear or examining uniform in the arcade or on the pave.

At the nearby Brassonic Super Centre on Water Street, which specializes mainly in electronic and household items, James Brasse, there was a wide range of stationery supplies, backpacks and lunch kits.

Customers flocked the store as they made purchases of the Disney products that were decorated with the characters from the animated movie, Frozen as well as with the Princess and Spiderman characters.

Brasse also noted that sales for school products have picked up and that it seems like a lot of people prefer to do late shopping.


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