Liberia: Businesspeople Bemoan Low Sales This Festive Season

Monrovia — “Woman come inside oh; woman comes to buy your slippers US$10. No more US$15… ” The above is one of the common hawks that are being bellowed all around Monrovia’s main commercial district of Waterside this festive season. This, especially, can be heard from hawkers up Michelin Street, at the intersection with Ashmum Street.

They are under the scorching sun, some sweating profusely but everyone moves about their normal businesses. That part of Michelin Street, which leads down the hill into Water Side Market, is the hottest part of both Michelin and Water Streets. It is jammed packed as usual during this time of the year as sellers, are shouting at female buyers.

FrontPageAfrica took time to speak with some of the vendors to hear from them about how business is this season.

According to Christian Quaye, who sells women’s clothing, last year’s Christmas was far better than this year’s because there is no money in town.

“I did electricity as a profession but this government operates on who knows you the basis and not what you know. So if I go seek for job, they will look at me by my appearance and not what I can do, so it’s better I do business and be my own boss. Let them give the youth the key because they have been there so long; let them give us space to occupy, but everybody wants to hold things for themselves, and it is not supposed to be so,” Quaye said.

Mae Azango [email protected]

Chris and other vendors jokingly said, it seems, there are more sellers than buyers. They called on the government to bring prices down because business is too slow.

Wearing dark shades away from the sun, and carrying her goods on her head, Vabah Moore is selling auction female jeans this Christmas Season.

“We thank God for this day, but we want this Christmas to be postponed because there is no money in the town, and the businesswomen upstairs are suppressing us. When we go buy the market from them, they do not want to bring prices down, so how do we sell to gain profits? Like these ladies’ jeans I am selling, I bought each US$5, so I have to sell it for L$1,000 per piece to be able to get profit,” Ms. Moore said.

Buyer Annie Thomas, a beautician, who was trying on a pair of black slippers, but could not get right her size, said she is not a government worker but she was able to do customers’ hair and she is buying things for herself.

“The government says they finished paying the government workers but I am not really seeing anything like people buying from us. People are buying small, small because the sellers are more than the buyers, just as President Weah can go to work, it’s the same way we can come to work, because it is this market we are living by and supporting our families. Many of these tables you see are auction tables, but after the season, they will leave, then we the original people who always sell here, will remain. The ‘Logan town people,’ who are always asking how much but can never buy, are so many, and the true buyers are few,” said vendor Josiah Wilson, who sells dresses.

Jonathan Roberts, who sells women’s goods, said the buying is not encouraging, because many of the people are sellers and not buyers, which has always been like that for a long time.

“The people, we call the looking town people, are flooding the market. Five years back, things never used to be like this, we used to sell more than one ‘dogar flag’ bale a day, (used clothes) and now, we can sell one bale for four days or a week, so the buying rate is slow. Let the government put things in place so the youth can be empowered. As for me I am an AC and refrigerator technician, but there is no job for me, so I came to sell,” he said.

Another buyer Albertina, a business woman, was also buying ladies trousers. She said the prices are not bad and she was not happy because not everybody has taken pay, especially the civil servants.

“Not all of the civil servants have taken pay. I am calling on the government to pay the civil servants, because they need to pay all of the civil servants and not some, so that they can come shopping for their families and loved ones and make them happy during this festive season,” she said.

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