Commerce is alive in Barbados!
Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, declared it on Wednesday at the end of a tour of two retail outlets in Christ Church and St. Philip – Montrose Supermarket and Marshall’s Minimart, respectively.
Offering the rationale for continuing the tours that were started last week, he said: “Our mission is to visit these supermarkets during this crisis, and it is not something that we did not do before COVID-19 came to our shores, but we wanted to make sure that these minimarts and these [small] supermarkets know that they are of significant value to this country’s commerce, hence our visits to a few of these mini-marts every week.”
Explaining why he deemed commerce as vibrant, he said both visits showed the shelves to be properly and fully stocked, and he was pleased at the intergenerational nature of the two businesses.
He noted that Manager of Montrose Supermarket, Sharon King, as well as the father and daughter team of Marshall’s, Managing Directors Wayne Alleyne and Mya Smith had carried on the family businesses.
He also praised Montrose Supermarket for employing some 23 persons from its environs, and for being able to maintain them during this COVID-19 period.
“We are seeing it here, how small businesses … both supermarkets were able to employ staff, and they kept customers and consumers within the confines of their villages and homes.
“So, instead of travelling to Bridgetown to shop with the bigger retailers, the Government took the conscious decision that these minimarts and small supermarkets and village shops must be opened to cater to the public. And, it helped stem the spread of the pandemic,’ the Minister said.
Paying tribute to the pioneers, Dallas Marshall of Marshall Minimart and W. H. King of Montrose Supermarket, Mr. Sutherland added: “I am more pleased about commerce in terms of the family businesses in Barbados. These small businesses, they are a valuable part of the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.”
The Commerce Minister recalled that years ago many black businesses died as a result of the death of the pioneers.
However, he noted that this trend had changed, and he was “now seeing these businesses taken over by great-grands and grandchildren, who are bringing a different focus” and are looking at some form of digital transformation.