Concerns over Water Street pavement selling By Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
February 14, 2007

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A BIG sale of cosmetics, accessories and other gift items being conducted by representatives of a prominent cosmetics company along the Water Street pavement between Guyana Stores Ltd and Fogarty’s has given rise to City Hall’s vendor policy being seriously questioned.

Affected neighbouring businesses offering similar items for sale, and strapped with huge operating costs, are adamant that City Hall should not allow such an operation.

Town Clerk, Ms. Beaulah Williams yesterday said the group of Avon sales representatives had applied to the City Council for permission to hold a two-day Valentine promotion sale on February 13 and 14. The sale which began yesterday is due to conclude today.

Over the last two days, the cosmetics company has set up six 10’ x 10’ canopies on the stretch of pavement, under which they have been displaying a wide range of cosmetics, accessories and other gift items at prices which undersell the neighbouring businesses offering similar items for sale.

“It’s very wrong in principle,” a business executive from the neighbouring Fogarty’s establishment said of the arrangement, noting that the City Council should not permit what is being witnessed at that location today.

Evidently peeved, he challenged the merit and consistency of City Hall’s putting small vendors off the streets and allowing a sophisticated itinerant vendor to do what the small ones dare not.

“Why put a small vendor off the street and allow a sophisticated itinerant vendor?” he questioned.

He contended that the practice is wrong and constitutes unfair competition, especially since the sellers have been virtually intercepting Fogarty’s customers.

Alarmed at the apparent inconsistency of City Hall’s vendor policy, the executive opined that City Hall’s vending policy needs to be seriously revisited.

Noting that the sellers have been intercepting his establishment’s customers, the Fogarty’s official stated: “We have no objection to people selling what they want to sell legally, but certainly not outside the doors of established businesses; but when you do this within the geographic domain of a competitor, you intercept the customers.”

Of concern to the company, he said, is the fact that at this time business is relatively slow and there is very little hope for an upsurge in the near future.

Citing the many unused parapets available for vending, which would allow for vendors plying their trade without interrupting other businesses, the official determined that there is no shortage of land space.

Meanwhile, a senior management official of Guyana Stores Ltd, commenting on the situation, said that even though his company has not measured the challenge, so to speak, his position would be that they have customers who would expect a certain quality and level of service, as provided by GSL, which will cause them to gravitate towards his establishment.

And in an invited comment, Executive Director of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Avalon Jagnandan said that no formal complaint has so far been made to the chamber, so that he is not aware that there is an issue.

However, he added, both Fogarty’s and Beauty and Home System Guyana Inc (on whose behalf the representatives are selling) are members of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce.

He said that once the persons selling would have satisfied all the legal requirements, then it becomes fair business. In the absence of that – it becomes an issue.

Jagnandan however, reasoned that Fogarty’s caters for a particular clientele who will consider all the ramifications when making purchases, and not necessarily allow themselves to be detracted for the lure of a few dollars less.

While itinerant vending over the years has become more pronounced around the city, it sometimes comes with a price, commercial officials say.

One notable example is the fact that receipts or bills are not usually given the shopper, and invariably, should the product not meet the expected demand, finding an itinerant vendor in order to get justice, can prove difficult.