Vendors seek clarity ahead of planned relocation

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Vendors who were temporarily relocated from the Vendors Mall are seeking clarity on a number of matters hours before their much-anticipated return.
The St. John’s Devel-opment Corporation (SJDC), will be holding a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony later today to re-open the newly renovated Vendors Mall in Heritage Quay.
However, up until mid-morning, Thursday, at least 84 of the small business owners who operate within the mall were not sure of date and time of return and new policies.
While they are happy to return to the mall, the vendors are calling on the statutory corporation to be open about the transition process.
They shared their concerns during an interview with our newsroom yesterday.
One vendor, who did not wish to be named, said that she is concerned about the space she will occupy in the mall.
The woman, who is in charge of two souvenir booths, said that she was informed that others like herself would have to operate from a single stall.
She also spoke of limitations to how they will be allowed to display their goods.
“We are hearing a lot of rules and regulations that we will not be able to hang clothing items outside of our booths or on the doors. To me that cannot work because we have to display our goods because tourists buy what they see,” the woman said.
Similar concerns were expressed by Ambrozine Sebastian, who was among one of the first set of vendors to operate in the Vendors Mall when it first opened in early 2001.
Sebastian said that while she welcomes the upgrade, she is concerned about rental cost once they relocate to the mall.
“I asked them before if the rent would remain the same and they said yes, but I have a little doubt about that because they claim they are going to install electricity, air condition unit and credit card machines,” Sebastian said.
Vendors at the mall say they are paying about $150 for a single booth and $287.50 for a double booth.
A third business owner who spoke to our reporter yesterday said she operates a large booth and once this is not compromised she has no problem.
Meanwhile, Bernard Percival, chairman of the SJDC addressed some of the concerns when he appeared on OBSERVER AM earlier on Thursday.
Percival said the symbolic opening will be held today and “hopefully” by the weekend the vendors will be able to relocate to their regular spaces.
As it relates to the cost of rent, the chairman said that presently the vendors are paying a discounted rate of $143 a month per stall.
But this discount will be discontinued once they relocate to the renovated facility.
“The monthly rent will be $287.50 per month for the season and it will go down to $230 per month in the off-season,” Percival said.
The SJDC spent in excess of $1.5 million to renovate the Vendors Mall at Heritage Quay.
The vendors were temporarily relocated to an area once known as Commissioners Grill to make way for the renovations.

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