With 26 right around the corner, everyone is trying to make the season special for their families and themselves. Among the surplus of food, drink and merriment, there is also a surplus of commercial activity. This is a time when “season sellers” — ordinary, people who are not involved in regular business or commercial activity — join the hustle to sell anything from used clothes, shoes, teddy bears, hand bags, things that passers-by can find at least temporarily appealing to give them a feel of the independence day season.
There is some profit to be made, and a means to strengthen ones financial position to make it through the holiday and beyond. The Daily Observer spoke with some of these “season sellers” to gauge their outlook on the commercial environment this season and more.
Winston Rogers, 34, is actually a professional driver who has been out of a job for few months. “Joining this business was a way to keep myself busy because nothing was really happening for me and I have my family to support,” he told the Daily Observer. Since he could not find a job, he decided to venture into the slippers business this Independence Day season, with the little cash he had.
As far back as the last week of June, Rogers says, he started his season hustle. He paid US $150 for a bag of slippers, spent LD $100 on soap to clean and make ready for sale. “After everything, I sell one pair of slippers for LD $500, but actually it was good.”
“I used to sell two bags of slippers per week at least, but now that has slowed down and I don’t know why or whether it’s because of the reopening of schools,” he said.
The Ministry of Education has scheduled the opening of schools for September, which means parents have only the month of August to prepare their school-going children for the coming semester.
When asked how much profit he expects from his seasonal business, Rogers declined to respond, but said that everything is fine, despite the slow pace of business as the holiday draws closer.
George Seke, another season seller who trades in the same business on Johnson Street, intimated that business is not going as expected, especially were has spent close to US $300 on shoes with the intent of selling everything before the holiday.
“We are getting limited customers as compared to [few weeks] before. In fact, now we have to reduce our price just to get something for us and our families to eat at home,” said Seke.
Hawa Kollie, who only started selling used clothes (do-ka-flag) during the second week of July, agreed that business much slower now, especially during the few days leading up to the holiday.
Ms. Kollie, a regular season seller, said she used to buy a bale of used clothes for US$150 but this time, she paid US$165. “After selling, I generate not less than 190. Sometimes it is loss-and-gain. Some of the bales we buy don’t have good clothes that people will want to buy.
She agrees with Rogers that customers are holding their money now to pay their children school fees and other things next month.
Like Rogers, season sellers get better results when they set up business early enough ahead of the holiday. The few days leading up to the holiday finds the market saturated with what they perceive as “more sellers than buyers”, which forces nearly all sellers to drastically drop the prices of their goods so as to sell all before the holiday comes. After the holiday, anything left on hand goes up for auction or donation.