Lockdown hits handicraft sellers

The closure of Samoa's borders and the lack of tourists has had a negative impact on many tourism-based businesses, including sellers of handicrafts and Samoa-made gifts.

Taena Faimanifo, of Palisi who runs the Loanna Gift Shop at the Savalalo Market, is among the many businesses affected. 

“What is happening to us during this lockdown is that we are earning less income,” Ms. Faimanifo said.

“There have been a lot of obstacles lately. Not enough income being received has affected the production of handicrafts.

"This disease has slowed production down. Usually, people would just come and browse but don’t buy anything."

The disease she is referring to is the coronavirus pandemic, responsible for the S.O.E. lockdown.

Ms. Faimanifo shared that the last time they had produced handicrafts was at the end of December last year.

"The people who produce these handicrafts are from my family but I still need to pay them for their work because money is also needed to produce these things,” she said.

“The amount I pay them would depend on the bill they give me, for example, $8 for a set of earrings or bracelets.”

According to Ms. Faimanifo, they also have an “online shop” but sales have been slow.

“So most of the customers are from America (specifically Hawai’i). They order Coconut bracelets, earrings, and other handicrafts and clothing online. Most of the orders for the clothing are from online,” she said.

Asked what is the average amount of income they get per month, she said, “If we add everything together because we also have a stall here at the market that also sells ie lavalava and handicrafts, usually if we get customers we would receive an average of $500 a day. For a normal month we would usually get an average of $4000 or more if there are any special occasions such as Easter."

"We still get customers and our daily income would be at around $200 and the highest would be $300," she said.

Her current income has been reduced to an average of $1000 a month as the handicrafts aren’t being purchased as usual. Ms. Faimanifo also shared that only the ie lavalava and clothing have been the only things being frequently bought by customers nowadays.

“Some days we wouldn’t get any customers at all,” she said.

“Help is much needed for us in this area of business from the Government. Most of our income is from the tourists but for now, we are facing a disease so in my opinion, what the Government is doing is right because we can get money any other day but you can’t get another life.”

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