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Market stall owners call for 1 hour extension

Stall operators at Fugalei Market are questioning a Government decision to have the market close for business at 6pm while supermarkets close an hour later.

Many of the vendors have asked that they be treated the same under the same regulatory category as large retail operators. 

Leaia Alefosio of Tanumapua said it’s unfortunate that the market has to close at 6pm because the evening time is when most shoppers call into the market on their way home.

“This is what is happening [in] the market: The evening time is when most shoppers come to the market. Most of the daytime, business is very slow. This is what we do for most of the day, we sit here,” she said.

“It’s now it used to before the lockdown happened. Right now, this is what we are doing – looking out on the road or looking at Facebook when we don’t have shoppers.”

The 6pm closing time for market vendors is too early, she added. 

“When we are closing up shop; the buyers start to show up. The rule that forbids sleeping at the market is good,” Ms Alefosio said.

“But maybe they could let us close at 7pm like the big supermarkets. That would be great. The evening time is when people come. Most of the day we are just waiting here for shoppers.

“Before they changed our closing time, business was good. Planes were coming in and people were shopping and we’d make good money each day. 

“Now we depend on local shoppers but most of them are working in the daytime. We can only catch them when they get off from work. 

“It’s just not the same as what we were making before the lockdown. It would be nice if they could let us close at 7pm to make it fair with the supermarkets.”

Ms Alefosio said stall operators have been closing shop at 6pm and on Saturdays many are seen on the roadside across the street from Frankie’s supermarket selling their produce.

“They are trying to make some money. So then it gets really crowded out front there but we go home because we live kind of far,” she added. 

“Those people who go to the roadside after 6 they do that because that is when the shoppers come out, in the evenings.”

But Fauatea Faauma, 69, from Satupaitea, Savai’i, offers a different perspective and called for rules to be followed. 

A coconut oil, banana and turmeric seller, he said the hours for the market were put in place by the Government to protect people and businesses from COVID-19.

“We have to follow the rules. There is no use if we go after the money and then something happens. That is what I think. The truth is: what the government says goes. We can’t just do whatever we want,” he said.

“What is the point in that? You’ll get money but then if the pandemic were here we would have been affected by the virus. And everything will be of no use.”

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