Vendors quit market to make ends meet

The State of Emergency lockdown has forced many vendors at the Savalalo market to be creative.

Instead of sitting around waiting for customers to come to them, many vendors have left the market to set up their own side stalls to try to make ends meet.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer in an interview, one of the oldest tenants at the market, Tina Meaalofa, said she has noticed a massive drop in the number of vendors.

“We’ve had vendors changing stalls from this side to that side or from this market to the other market," she said.

"But only a few of us remain. This is probably the first time this market has lost a lot of vendors due to the impact of this lockdown."

Meaalofa has been a vendor at the market since it opened and she said this is the worst it has ever been.

"I haven’t seen anything with an impact as enormous as this one. Few clients, tenants leaving and it's bad. It does not only affect the owner of this market but it also affects us vendors."

For the market vendors themselves, they are a tight community.

“We’ve lost some friends," she said.

"In this market, we share spare change, we share food and laughs to go through the day but it’s become really boring."

Asked if she’s also affected financially from the lockdown, the 64-years-old of Solosolo, said ‘yes’. 

However, she does not wish to move out of the market unless she is completely financially unstable.

Not only to fruits and crop vendors, handicraft vendors in the middle section of the market is completely empty.

Attempts to get a comment from the Savalalo market keeper were unsuccessful.

Sixty-three-years-old Puipui Tavita of Vaigaga said it’s inexpensive to vend in a roadside stall than at the Savalalo market.

“I just hope this doesn’t make the landlord of the market raise the price of the rent otherwise we would also be moving out to do our own small markets in our front yards,” she said.

If you drive from Manono-Uta to Apia, you will notice the majority of the new small markets being put up beside the road ever since the State of Emergency (S.O.E).

Some of the families in one village either share one stall or just put up a table beside the road and sell their fruits, crops and many other things.

According to Mrs. Tavita, majority of their regular customers have stopped buying from the market. Instead, they drive out of town to the new small stalls to buy crops especially for their Sunday to’ona’i (feasts).

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