In its fullness, the new school year begins today. Some schools opened last week but the majority of the remaining institutions got going this morning.
As is the custom, merchants who sell school items have been in demand. Over the weekend, The Freeport News interviewed a number of representatives of business places that stock school supplies. Generally, they expressed a readiness for the new 2017/2018 school year, and willingness to meet the various demands.
Owner and Manager of H&L School Supplies, Kelly Russell informed that the process of dealing with those requiring supplies for school went “very well.”
“Things started a bit late, but it is moving gradually. The store still has a great deal of supplies including backpacks, books and pens and pencils,” said Russell.
At Park and Shop, Office Manager Lisa Darville informed that customers had been coming in over the last two weeks.
“We are also a part of the ‘GB-opoly’ and I feel like that helps out a lot,” she said.
GB-opoly is a buy local program designed to make back-to-school shopping enjoyable and beneficial for the local community. The initiative was launched in 2016. It is a scratch - off based game where participants search for the right scratch pieces to win great prizes.
The actual game board has various places on it, named either after a community on Grand Bahama or one of three companies. The object of the game is to match as many property sets as possible to win more and more prizes. As shoppers visit one of the participating merchants, they are to receive a scratch off piece. Each scratch piece is color-coded and matches a place on the board. When one matches all the colors in a property set or matches all of the logos of a company, the prize corresponds to the set.
In order to participate in the game, shoppers need to purchase items from one of the participating vendors: Bethel Books and Stationers, Sav-Mor Drugs, Sawyer’s Fresh Market, Park and Shop, and Kross Town Food Store. Participants can win a variety of prizes.
Darville revealed that they scheduled Sunday (September 3) from 11a.m.-3 p.m. to be open to accommodate customers who were not able to shop on Saturday, or before.
The store also carries school uniforms for government schools on the island. Darville pointed out however, that the amount of school shopping seemed to decrease from last year.
Felix Johnson a customer at Park and Shop stated that he would like to shop at home because it is more convenient. He has an issue though, with the prices.
“To be home and pay these large prices for some things, I don’t think its worth it,” he said.
Stephanie Forde, Owner of Jon Wes Shoe Store revealed that their traffic of customers has been steady for back to school.
“People are shopping and finding what they need,” she said.
She disclosed that in place was the option to buy one and get one free, for nine weeks, and there still are a few more gift certificates and prizes to give away.
Wes Forde, the store owner gave the opinion customers are shopping these more carefully and with a greater regard for prices.
“They realize they don’t have the kind of money that they used to have, because when you look at it, the hotels are closed down and a lot of people aren’t working. They are being a lot more prudent on how they spend their money,” he said.
He added that, accordingly, it was determined that the shop would do the best possible to accommodate customers in these tough economic times.
According to Forde although the level of shopping since last year is the same, it has decreased significantly in comparison to years before.
“Years before we had to lock the doors,” he said.
Forde explained that this change could be the result of a number of factors such as the lack of funds, various school show giveaways, and persons choosing to shop abroad.
“Either way, we’re happy because we’re on a downtrend. So whatever business we can garner from this type of environment, we’re happy,” he said.
To further assist customers, Forde informed that although the store usually closes for business at 6 p.m., there are times when the doors are not shut until 7:30 p.m.