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Mall craft store boosts holiday sales

The response to a new store dedicated to Bahamian craft in the Mall at Marathon has been”overwhelming”, and craft makers are hoping that the December store can be a fixture throughout the year.

“From the day we opened our doors on Wednesday past at about noon, we have had countless Bahamians flooding in,”Linda Stubbs, a craft maker and interior designer managing the store toldGuardian Business.

The idea was initially hatched by the mall’s owners, according to Bob Stevenson, manager of Mall at Marathon. The owners approached the Bahamas Agricultural&Industrial Corporation(BAIC)with the idea, according to Stevenson, and instead of requiring a lease, the mall decided to work on a rental arrangement based on a percentage of sales.

“It was a fabulous way to put activity into a vacant store,”Stevenson said. He added that crafters have a’unique niche’as nobody in the mall is selling the same products as the Bahamian manufacturers.

Ian and Cherie Gilbert, a husband-and-wife team with an outlet in the craft store, said that the mall experience had significantly impacted their sales.

“This is the first time you have an authentic Bahamian artisan display in any type of mall in The Bahamas, which makes it easier to be exposed to the general public, which is excellent for us,”Mr. Gilbert said. He added that he has also had a lot of feedback and orders from consumers who were pleased to be able to buy the products so conveniently.

Another craftsman, Henry Armbrister, said that his sales doubled on Saturday when things’really started picking up.”Armbrister added,”We prefer to be here annually, instead of just the month of December.”

“Initially it’s only for Christmas,”Stubbs, the store manager said.”We are hoping we will do so well that the mall will consider having us, but I can tell you going forward something is going to happen like this, whether it’s here or elsewhere, we will definitely have a permanent home.”

Stephenson said that it is not unusual to have a trial period for a business in a shopping mall. He added that the outlet has only recently opened, but in time with more sales data, the parties will be better able to decide the long term prospects of the new store.

Minister of State for Social Services Loretta Butler-Turner brought remarks during the mall’s soft opening yesterday, and referred to developments in the handicraft industry as a renaissance. The construction of a’first class multi-million dollar craft center’on Bay Street, Nassau, along with BAIC and IDB’s previously announced$500,000 grant to connect the Bahamian craft industry to the world via Internet, were a part of this rebirth, according to Butler-Turner.

The Bahamian crafts featured in the store include designer handbags, mirrors, broaches, necklaces, tie pins, Christmas wreaths, earrings, figurines, tableware, silver top palm and sisal products, and other items.

Mark Turnquest, BAIC board member, said,”The quality is there. There’s been massive improvement of design, and the price is affordable. They are contributing to the success and development of Bahamianculture, which is more important than anything else.”

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