Beach sellers

Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe, November 2017, canon digital, ©Sylvie G
In Sainte-Anne, the beach is beautiful and the weather very hot. So I  spend a lot of time under the coconut trees, between  swimming sessions,  and the hobby of rigor is watching people go by. It takes time for me to realize that the guy who « dries » his pareo in fact  shows tourists the different prints he has in « store », that is to say a big basket. The young woman who wears a different bikini every five minutes is actually part of the Beach Vendors Association of St. Anne. In addition, there is a  donut seller, the tourment d’amour  seller, the jewelery seller, the men’s bathing suit seller, the coffee and mint tea seller. I look at them, thinking  that this is a very pleasant job,  walking all day on the beach. But after a while, I realize that this is a rather difficult job: the sellers walk all day, barefoot, in the hot sand. The sun hits them on the head, the baskets are heavy and the incomes, no doubt thin. The donut seller is the favorite of children. He stops to chat with them and their parents, or the people he knows. He  goes back and forth until sunset. But it’s the swimsuits ladies that impress me the most. They manage to convince women on the beach to buy a bikini, a swimming suit , or  a kind of skirt that can turn into a dozen outfits. I observe the one that seems most convincing. She negotiates with a woman wearing a black swimsuit; she puts on one, two or three swimsuits  on top of each other, explaining each time with great gestures the miracles that the swimsuit  will perform for the figure of the lady. The lady does not like the print of the first (I agree). Then the saleswoman shows her a rectangle of fabric that can turn into all kinds of outfits to hide what the lady does not want to show. She shows her a more flattering print and convinces the lady to try it (over her own swimsuit), but it  is too small and the salesgirl runs somewhere to get a bigger size. Then another piece of cloth, which once again serves to flatter her silhouette. After an hour of effort, the lady buys a swimsuit and a small piece of fabric. I thought that this stuff was selling for  about twenty euros but I learn that these two pieces must total a hundred euros, which seems very expensive for these little bits of fabric, but it seems to me all the same that the seller has worked hard to achieve this result (the seller (men’s swimsuits sellers  have an easier task, the only questions being size and color). A little later, I learn,  while chatting with Alexandra (sometimes taxi, sometimes working  at the market, former trapeze artist and GO at the club Med) that these vendors have  formed an association to fight against attempts by Club Med to ban them from the beach Caravelle (because beach  sellers reduce the profits of their own shops). They went to court to defend their case and won. It turns out to  a very difficult job (especially for the skin), but they  manage to make a living (Alexandra  did it herself for two years). And much more difficult than spending the afternoon under a coconut tree.

6 réflexions sur « Beach sellers »

  1. This is very interesting. You must have been surprised that the populated beach was really populated with entrepreneurs. It sees seem a hard way to make a living, but given they give the Club Med shop a run for its money, that is a good thing. It sounds as though you are having nice time of rest. I have never been to Guadeloupe. It looks lovely (for a tourist).

    1. I do not believe it is a long term job, their life span as beach sellers seems to be very short. . Usually, seeing sellers on the beach would annoy me, but those ones were not. I am having a nice time but the Carribeans have proved a little more challenging than expected, particularly when the « luxury apartment on the hills »( at a fraction of the price, of course) , turned out to be a converted garage with no windows. But nowhere near as difficult as selling bikinis on the beach.

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