“How do your prices compare to the market?” We get his question a lot. I have no hesitancy in telling persons that our prices are higher for the most part, but that’s not always the case. We are comparable and even lower for some things. But when it comes to markets in Jamaica, Coronation Market is king, hands down. From a pin to an anchor, there's just no better place for prices and variety in general. There's also no better place for getting hit or bumped by a cart man, or cussed out by a vendor for asking certain questions they think you should know the answer to, or for feeling up their produce that you then refuse to buy. Sometimes it doesn't even have to get that far, if yuh face don't have the right look they will let you know.
Let's be clear, customer service is not a hallmark of "curry." And let's not get started on what it's like after even a small shower of rain. Can you say mudslide? But for all its inconveniences, people are willing to turn a blind eye because of the very low prices. And sometimes the experience is just so authentically Jamaican and downright amusing that you long for it. And if you've ever needed a case study or economics lesson on the principles of supply and demand, and how competition drives prices downwards, and how quickly scarcity can do the reverse, look no further than "curry."
So, for consumers chasing the low prices at "curry," I think a few things should be borne in mind when next you visit. Those low prices may be good for you, but for a great number of the vendors, the profit margins are very small, and for many, the only thing that pays less than selling at "curry," is to stay home and do nothing, so most opt for the former. How many rich vendors do you know?
Let's consider for a second what many vendors go through to see what I'm talking about.
- Many vendors come in on Thursdays and don't leave until Saturday nights. No, they do not spend the night at a local hotel or motel. They sleep right there in the market.
- Produce are perishable. It's quite easy for vendors to lose money off produce that don't sell as quickly as they'd hope. If they don't capture the sale during a short window, they are forced to sell off the items well below a profitable rate, or at best try to break even.
- Competition is fierce! If a farmer decides to sell directly to the market and undercut the price that a vendor who bought from a farmer and mark up their produce for resale is priced at, there's not much a vendor can do to compete.
- Profit margins are sometimes as low as $10 dollars for some of your favourite produce. When you consider that they inevitably lose money off stale produce, that's really not much from which to buy food to eat while at the market, pay for transportation and all the other expenses that come with selling at “curry.”
There’s a lot more I could say about the plights of the vendors, but I’m sure you get my point. I say this to say that Farmgate E-market will never be able to compete with the prices at the Coronation Market, and we don’t intend to. Packaging, staffing, petrol and a host of other expenses require that goods be priced at a rate that makes business sense. Although we sell produce, we want to be considered as a service provider in the business of selling convenience through the delivery of farm produce to homes, offices or wherever the customer reasonably requests. This should be the distinguishing feature between us and any other market currently in operation locally.
We are living in a different time and age. People are busy. Jamaica has one of the highest levels of successful women per capita of any country in the world, but our women are still keen on trying to hold down the household just as much as they hold down the office. We know this because over 90% of our customers are women, placing orders for delivery to their homes or offices to ensure that the family eats well even if they’re not at home. We are happy to be able to play a part in making this happen. Our aim is to continue to provide this kind of value, and we hope that you continue to let us.