LIKE the more than 20 other vendors who were hoping to benefit from sales at yesterday’s People’s National Party (PNP) Annual Conference, Eileen left the National Arena in Kingston feeling disappointed.
The sparse crowd that converged on the grounds outside of the venue, which traditionally hosts major political conferences annually, was an early indication.
Few showed interest in the offerings on sale, and those who did relied on a cup of soup or two before turning to marijuana, grabba leaf or alcohol.
“A the worse sales this mi ever see. Nothing not selling; no chicken, no food. Mi nuh know a what going on. Mi prepare fi the whole conference and nobody a buy nothing. Nuh food nuh sell; nuh action naah gwaan today. We just a watch fi see if when it over, when the people dem a come out, fi see if dem want anything; we might get some more sale,” Eileen, who had prepared fried chicken, pork and soup for sale grumbled.
“Mi come here every conference and this one is the worst. It nuh hot fi mi at all. I wasn’t expecting this. Ask anybody, this nuh look good,” she added.
While several party supporters stood behind metal barriers fixated on a display screen set up just outside the arena and police personnel directed crowd movement, Conroy Taylor looked for his next customer.
“Mi deh a PNP conference today, you understand, ah the worst PNP conference with spending. The people dem nuh have the funding; we see it. We haffi drop all price fi do better. Mi waan know what happen to the country. We need some upliftment, because we work hard and we naah get the opportunity. This a the worst conference, mi a tell you. Mi nuh know ’bout the support, but with the spending fi the higgler dem we nuh mek nuh money,” Taylor, otherwise known as “Soupy”, lamented, mentioning that soup prices were cut by 50 per cent to encourage customers.
Latoya’s mind appeared to be elsewhere when approached, seated across from the National Arena. She was flanked by soup and food vendors but her somewhat exclusive commodity failed to attract much customers.
Liquor lined two plastic tables joined at the ends behind which she sat on a metal chair.
“We don’t know if it (sales) will increase by later, but it’s just not working right now. Every year we come here, but it’s the first it has been like this. Normally you could count on this event to make something, but today is different, so I don’t know. We’re hoping things will pick up. Last year was much better. This has been the slowest year,” she stressed.
Mere metres away from Latoya, a group of men and one woman indulged in a game of Crown and Anchor.
According to one of the men, they were simply enjoying the vibes and “supporting” their political representatives.
Amid the frolic, a female vendor who asked to be identified only as “Do Road” expressed frustration with the day’s progress.
“The last conference a did better, better conference. You know? A mussi because the party divided and the people dem nuh come out, but it naah happen. Today just nuh ready; a the worst conference this. Mi a sell from mi a pickney and mi a come PNP conference fi years now and mi never see nothing like this yet; a just the worst. That’s all mi can say,” the woman said.