Tuesday, April 16, 2024

STREET BEAT: Beating the heat


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It has been burning hot this past month, just the sort of weather vendors of sno-cone and sellers of air conditioners love.

But by all reports, the men and women who sell crushed ice and flavoured syrup are having a hard, hot time.

“We in a recession right now so people may not have the money to even buy too many sno-cones . . .,” said sno-cone vendor Adrian Maynard. He said sales had picked up in the last few weeks of the summer vacation and he expected this trend would continue now that children are back at school and “everybody is in town”.

He also revealed he was working hard – six days a week – to one day be able to call someplace his own.

Ricky “Country” Coppin owns no fewer than seven sno-cone carts, which he rents to others. He also sells syrup from his home to other vendors and makes the sweet drinks Bajans love. He said all this was necessary to survive and times were harder than ever.

“People ain’t got no money and I got less,” he said. “I survive with the schoolchildren on evenings plus I have the carts I rent so I have people working for me.”  

Coppin commented on the fact that some people were ditching the traditional cart and selling sno-cones from vehicles instead. He said he had no problem with this move as it opened up possibilities.

“Town is saturated with sno-cone vendors so if a man can find a way to make a living by going out into the country using a van, I can’t kill he,” he said.

The enterprising entrepreneur also spoke on some of the bad habits he was noticing among certain vendors.

“Some fellas got no real interest in the business; some water down the syrup. Some are not dressed properly and some are not clean and people use them to judge all of us,” he said.

Another vendor, Winston Brathwaite, is doing brisk business selling natural juices to help people beat the heat. His flavours include favourites such as lemonade and mauby – which he calls sun quenchers – but also flavours such as breadfruit, gooseberry, ackee, cashew, sea moss and tamarind.

“Sales are going great,” he said. “I have regular customers that call me every day. People are into natural living and are getting away from the artificial products but cold drinks sell better in summer generally.” He said he served people at places such as Courts and “Mannings” as well as the boys on the block.

Right now, Brathwaite is on foot but plans to get a vehicle someday. He is also poised to break into the supermarkets with his Diamond Natural Flavours label. As to what is the secret to his success, Brathwaite, grinning broadly, said it was his faith in God and constant praying which saw him through every day.

When it comes to air conditioners, the owner of Bovell’s Auto Electrical and Air Conditioning, Jefferson Bovell, said times were changing.

“To be honest, more people come to get their A/C fixed during the rainy season because you got to roll up your windows and you need the A/C to keep cool and prevent the windows from fogging up.

“Years ago, it was different and people came when it was hot but the problem now is the recession where people rather use natural breeze than A/C especially with gas prices the way they are now. An A/C system is very expensive to repair and maintain; people just don’t have the money,” he said.


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