Junkanoo, an economic opportunity for vendors

BUSY VENDORS – Crowds of people paid a visit to the multitude of booths where vendors sold food, drinks and even toys at the 2018 New Year’s Junkanoo in Downtown, Freeport. (PHOTOS: JENNEVA RUSSELL)

Junkanoo is usually a time to celebrate Bahamian culture with colorful costumes, music played on goatskin drums, cowbells, brass instruments and high energy dancing; but for many Bahamians it is a prime opportunity to earn money.

Local participating vendors of the 2018 New Year’s Junkanoo Parade advertised their merchandise with the high hopes of making a large profit on Monday night – January 1, 2018 – in the Downtown, Freeport area.
Some of the vendors spoke to this daily about what they expected from the event and what they received.
Michele Davis, who owns a conch salad stand was hopeful about her sales.

“I expect nothing but the best tonight,” she said.

Davis revealed that this was her first time participating at the parade, but she is expecting to do well because of her past experience selling conch salad to tourists on local beaches.

Charles Bodie, a vending veteran of 18 years told this daily that both of his Flashes stalls of light-up toys always participate at the event.

“This is like a staple for us,” he added.

He noted that his stalls usually do well, considering that Grand Bahama’s economy is not what it used to be.
“You know kids are going to cause their parents to spend money. The choice between toys and food, toys win,” he said.

Bodie furthered that he had his own suggestions to improve business opportunities for the vendors. He recommended that vendors actually be a part of the Grand Bahama Junkanoo Committee so that they could play a more vital role in the organization of the parade and give informed advice from their perspective.

“Vendors are normally herded like cattle, they say this you got to do that and they don’t have no logistical input from the vendors,” he said.

He also proposed changing the position of the some of the booths, suggesting that they would probably fair better if they faced West Pioneer’s Way.

Knowing what vendors may be up against, Bodie wished his fellow vendors well.

“I just wish for everybody to sell out their food, whatever I don’t sell here now will be boxed and put back for Junior Junkanoo. They can’t resell food,” he said.

Bodie revealed that he and a few other vendors are in the process of establishing a Grand Bahama Vendor’s Association.

“Our whole plan is to structure organizing events for ourselves,” he said.

He added that they would conduct this while informing event organizations and committees that they have representation.

Pearl Hall, another familiar face at the event, shared that her booth of snack foods, including hotdogs and nachos also makes a profit at the event.

She expected no different that night.

“I’m doing good so far,” she said.

She added that last year’s parade was especially good for her business.

Beulah Higgs of Cooper’s Native Dishes told this daily that they were selling an assortment of savory Bahamian specialties.

“We are selling crack conch, fried fish, fish fingers, crack lobster, barbecue ribs, peas and rice, conch and rice, lobster fried rice, potato salad, coleslaw and mac and cheese,” she said.

Higgs revealed that they are also veteran vendors at the parade. She said that sales were going well that night despite a smaller crowd of attendees than last year. She commended the Grand Bahama Junkanoo Committee on pulling the event together.

“I feel like they are doing what they can,” she added.

Keith Butler, representing the Garden Bar had two bars at Junkanoo in different locations selling various beverages.

“This is my first time doing it and if it’s successful, I’ll try again next year,” he said.

He noted, at the time of the interview, they had been getting large crowds of customers.

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