Na­tive Span­ish speak­ers break­ing lan­guage bar­ri­ers for city busi­nesses

Stabroek News Sunday - - RE­GIONAL NEWS -

in per day. “Be­cause we try to meet ev­ery cus­tomer’s need, and if you find that a lot of Span­ish per­sons are com­ing into the store, you need to have some type of prepa­ra­tion for them and you don’t want lan­guage to be a bar­rier. So you have to have your staff very fa­mil­iar and they must be able to speak mul­ti­ple lan­guages so that ev­ery cus­tomer will leave the store happy, re­gard­less of their spend­ing power,” Dol­phin stated.

The “New Sachi” store on Re­gent Street is run by Chi­nese mer­chants, but when a Chi­nese worker sta­tioned there beck­ons to a group of Cubans cross­ing the street, “Hola amigo!” are the words he chooses to

greet them.

Once known sim­ply as “Sachi,” the es­tab­lish­ment now boasts new own­er­ship, and new let­ter­ing on the shirts of some of the em­ploy­ees. In the New Sachi store, there is a Cubano. He, like the oth­ers, is all too happy to be ap­proached by an­other who speaks his na­tive tongue.

Re­lat­ing that his travel here was fu­eled by the state of the econ­omy in Cuba, the man says that he has been in Guyana for four months now, but has only been em­ployed at the store for two days.

It is not his first ex­pe­ri­ence in the lo­cal re­tail busi­ness, how­ever; he is a drifter. He ad­vises that if you are look­ing for work, all you need to do is walk in and re­late to the store­own­ers that you’re a Span­ish speaker, but know a bit of English.

Across the street at the Dis­count Store, known for its se­lec­tion of af­ford­able footwear, a sec­tion of the es­tab­lish­ment is be­ing oc­cu­pied by Chi­nese sell­ers. They too have added Cuban em­ploy­ees to their ros­ter.

The woman there says she learnt about Guyana through fam­ily mem­bers who have trav­elled here be­fore. She is think­ing of stay­ing, though, she says, not­ing that she can­not her­self af­ford the cloth­ing trade that so many of her fel­low Cubans have taken up.

The de­scrip­tion she pro­vides of those in­volved in the Cuba-Guyana trade sounds akin to a com­mu­nity; she re­lates that those who have trav­elled here be­fore of­fer ad­vice on places to stay and shop.

An­other man—a shop­per, not a sales­man—re­lated that the trade is not re­stricted to cloth­ing, but in­cludes items such as sheets, tow­els, shoes, and other such ameni­ties, which are bought and resold in Cuba.

He, like the worker in Sachi, makes ref­er­ence to the state of the econ­omy when asked why he chose to travel here, but he re­marks that the sit­u­a­tion in Cuba is a lit­tle bet­ter than that in Venezuela.

Across the road, Lin­cos, a cloth­ing store, has its “clos­ing down sale.” Pa­trons flow steadily into the busi­ness place, where they as­sess the racks of cloth­ing be­fore go­ing in for the buy, or leav­ing the way they came.

When Stabroek News vis­ited the es­tab­lish­ment a few weeks ago, the man­ager re­lated that the owner would be rent­ing the build­ing to a Chi­nese pro­pri­etor in­stead, but would not di­vulge the rea­son for do­ing so.

City busi­nesses that have served the Guyanese com­mu­nity for years have been clos­ing their doors, and some have been rent­ing their build­ings to for­eign pro­pri­etors, who are now rapidly en­croach­ing on the re­tail trade.

The build­ings that once housed busi­nesses such as Acme, Keishars and Stretch Yuh Dol­lar are now the homes of new ones run by Chi­nese and In­dian na­tion­als.

(Trans­la­tion and pho­tos, un­less oth­er­wise stated, by Rom­ina Softleigh)

“Bed­sheets with cur­tains”

(David Pa­pan­nah photo)

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