The Fiji Times
Vendor of 50 years fights for car park fees at the market
IF you take a walk around the Suva Municipal Market, you will see a familiar face usually selling watermelons. Krishan Kumar, 62, is originally from Sabeto and started his market business when he was just 12 years old.
He said his father inspired him on venturing into this business as he (son) used to watch and help him (father) out every day at the market back in Lautoka.
Krishan lives in Khalsa Rd, Nasinu and has three children.
Two of his children have moved out of their family home to establish themselves, while one lives at home with him and his wife.
Krishan spent 30 years of market business in Lautoka and 20 years in the Suva Municipal Market.
He has also been the general secretary of the Suva United Market Vendors Association for 20 years now.
According to Krishan, one of the major challenges market vendors faced in July this year was the move to increase the car park fees they paid the Suva City Council.
He said market vendors were adviced by the council in July that the carpark fees would increase from $54 to $230.
This meant they would be spending $176 more from their pockets.
Fortunately, Krishan said he managed to write a letter to the council's CEO requesting the them to reconsider this decision as most vendors and tenants in the market were also trying to make a living and were basically struggling from day to day.
"Before we used to pay a fee of $54, whereas on August 1 of this year, we were told to pay $230 per month, I then wrote a letter to the CEO requesting if they could reduce the charges and I was advised that they will try and settle for the old fee again, which eventually happened, and we are grateful for that".
Krishan said the fees for a table at the market still remains the same today.
He has a total of 11 tables, that costs him $2.75 each table and $30.25 per day.
"Times are getting harder and the business sometimes gets affected," he said.
Upon the changes in food prices and increase of VAT in food items, Krishan said the usual lot of customers he used to get before were dwindling in numbers.
This, however, affects his business as he also needs to make money and customers are his main source of income.
Krishan sells fruits like juicy watermelons and sweet pineapples in his stall at the market.
He buys his watermelons from suppliers in various parts of Fiji such as Koro, Batiki, Gau, Vanua Levu, Sigatoka and other villages in Viti Levu.
As a businessperson, Krishan believes that by continuing his market business, he is also helping the hardworking farmers who would wake up early while everyone was asleep, to come to the Suva carrierstand to sell their produce.
"From this market business, I was able to pay for my children's education and it has helped me meet my financial needs," he said.
Krishan encourages everyone to work hard and to do good deeds, as in the end, he believes “everyone reaps what they sow”.
"Fiji has a lot of money, people should just work hard and fend for themselves.
“Being independent is always the key to achieving something better in the future," he said.
BULA vinaka to all our readers, This week I want to talk about a recent incident in a supermarket where I had bought some lamb neck at a prominent store. After having 2kg weighed at the butcher section the attendant came back and said it cost us around $32.
It was obvious that the price was wrong because 1kg cost $12.95 according to the price displayed in their meat deli.
The butcher attendant quickly apologised when it was pointed out saying he had pressed for another lamb product instead of the lamb neck. Seriously!
I thought about this and realised that there could have been shoppers before us who did not check they were paying more for their meat, because they were in a rush that Saturday morning.
On the same day I visited another supermarket in Nakasi where a shopper bought a roll-on he thought cost $1.99 as that was the displayed price.
At the checkout the shopper returned the roll-on to the cashier because it cost $5.99 and he felt hoodwinked by that trick. I discussed this with other shoppers in our newsroom this week and they had also experienced similar incidents.
One of the guys said being confused with the price tags on goods has happened to him many times. He pointed out a particular supermarket which was fond of doing this and that he and his wife had encountered the same confusion and actually looked out to ensure they were not tricked.
“They are always cunning. Most items with price tags in their supermarket would only highlight the cheaper products while the premium ones cost more but did not have displayed tags out there to deliberately trick consumers so they would quickly pick these goods and put it into their trolleys.
“Once shoppers reach the counter to check out the goods then they realise that only the cheapest product was labelled and the ones they picked cost much more than expected. He always returned the item when it had the wrong price tag on it or when he felt confused about its price in the first place.
“I am never ashamed and as a consumer I would change the product for a cheaper one or demand my right change back even if it was short by just five cents because that is my money.
“Just recently my receipt had an item which cost me $30 more even though the price tag on the shelf made me believe it was only $5 and that was why I placed it in my trolley.
“I immediately returned the bucket and got my money back when I realised its real cost, because I was not prepared to pay an extra $30 that day,” he shared.
But these are some tricks that shoppers find misleading. Has this ever happened to you? As shoppers our goal is to get what we need as affordably as we can, and the grocer’s goal is to increase their profit as much as they can.
That’s why supermarkets have come up with numerous tactics to do just that. Everything from product displays to the music is geared toward lulling shoppers into spending more.
But as Smart Cents website suggests don’t be fooled. Plan your meals, budget, and grocery list ahead of time and stick to that plan. If you know the layout of your supermarket, only visit the aisles you need to.
Remember, cutting down on distractions will cut down on impulse purchases, and in turn, on your grocery costs which means you get to save some cash on those trips. Until next week spend wisely!