Roving the Market Place is a series of articles written to serve as a guide to shoppers. The articles will be published bi-weekly and will focus on trends happening in the Market Place, how to combat price increases and highlighting spots where you can secure your “My Jamaica Today” deals. Take this journey with us as we focus on some of what you can expect when you rove the Market Place.
The old Jamaican Proverb says: The early bird catches the most worm.
Hand-carts, cars, buses and scores of pedestrians flood the busy market districts daily in search of value for money, and Downtown Kingston is the home of the well-known Jubilee and Coronation Markets.
It’s as early as 5 a.m. Shoppers from all walks of life and socio-economic backgrounds make the trip to the busy shopping district to make their purchases. Vendors are out in their numbers with a variety of fresh produce for shoppers to choose from. The atmosphere is light and friendly as friends from neighbouring communities make the time to meet and greet in-between purchases. As you make your way through the busy market one will appreciate the smell of the morning dew, mixed with the aroma of the fresh fruits on display. Ripe bananas, passion, watermelon, pineapples and jelly coconuts are among a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables which are available and ready for purchase.
The Jamaica Today team observes a wide selection of lush green leafy vegetables to compliment the diet, from Pak choi, lettuce, calaloo and kale to other high-powered veggies including okra, string beans, cucumbers and so much more.
A wide variety of produce including breadfruits, plantains both ripe and green, the popular yellow and Negro yams, green bananas, ackees, tomatoes all available whether on stalls or laid down on blue tarpaulins for consumers to rummage and choose.
Many Jamaican favourites are available as one makes the stroll down the narrow tracks of the market. Even at this time of the year, Christmas faves such as sorrel and gungo peas are still available while vendors lower their prices to make the seasonal items appear even more attractive to the consuming public.
However, Jamaicans who are notorious for their ability to haggle over prices, are not entirely pleased.
One customer, 28-year-old Terry who hails from Vineyard Town complained light-heartedly about the steep prices.
“The price going down yes, but I’m still not prepared to pay $250 per lb fi it, mi wi wait till it drops some more,” she said with a playful smile.
Downtown Kingston was abuzz with activity. Customers needing ground provisions kept scales and knives very active as goods were transferred from venders to buyers who secure their purchases in their reusable traditional market bags – more common now given that the government has imposed a ban of ‘scandal’ bags. With their goods in hand, consumers then prepare to commute by whatever means to take home many of the delicous eats acquired to be prepared and laid on many Jamaican tables.
But what is it that makes roving the Jamaican market worthwhile?
Sharon from the Barbican area is fond of this curious past-time, and braves the journey even as soaring crime levels make shopping a more dangerous adventure.
” I come to the market each week for the offerings, wider selection of local produce, fresher alternatives and much cheaper prices. Whatever my friends want to say, I don’t care, it is worth the trip,” she said.
Shoppers from every nook and cranny will agree that they receive value for money when they rove the Jamaican market with prices ranging from $40 – $250 per pound respectively for items. These prices, while not at an all-time low for some older folks, still represents a significant saving for many people feeling the crunch of harsh economic times.
By: Juliane Robinson