By Christopher Tobutt
Cayman’s waterfront craft market reopened on Friday 15 January. It was a welcome sign of tourism’s recovery after nearly a year’s absence at the site.
Jean-erick Smith, the market’s General Manager said: “It’s the first day that the tourists have come back to this place since March 16 when it was locked down from Covid. Now we will be open bi-weekly, every Friday until March, when we will more than likely open more frequently.” There were fourteen proud vendors, showing their Cayman-made (or Cayman-finished) wares, with a grand variety of tourist-oriented products on show. “Most of these vendors were on the government tourism stipend, so it is just a way of giving back for what we have been receiving,” Mr. Smith said. “We are hoping the local people will come out to support the market, but there are some visitors on the island we are hoping that they will be able to come out and patronize the local vendors.
“We’ve had to do some creative things with the business to keep revenue coming in, so most recently we have been renting the Centre as a venue for locally owned online businesses, so they have a ‘store-front.’ They pay for a license annually at the Tourism Attractions Board, and then they get a retail space,” Mr. Smith explained. “A lot of these were on the Ministry of Tourism stipend, and the Department of Commerce because they were properly licensed, and so we are encouraging the rest to do the same. We are just trying to show the Ministry and the people of the island we are appreciative of what we have and are thankful for what we have.”
Janet Minzett had a wide variety of Cayman-made items on her stall. “I do basket-weaving, and make clothes basket, bread baskets, and hats and jewelry, too. It is great to see the market open up again. Corona means I have been busy making a lot of stuff at home from silver thatch palm, the national palm of the Cayman islands. I also have a gentleman who carves things from Cayman mahogany wood.”
Right at the front of the market, Sylvia Ebanks has her stall where she shows all the wonderful things she has made from sewing and from crocheting. “This is a tote bag made from canvas and leather at the bottom,” she said. She has made some lovely dolls by sewing, and their dresses too, and has also a delightful collection of charming and unique children’s dresses. “I sometimes do sewing out here and the visitors love to see that,” she said.
Karalyn Bush-Christian also loves to do crochet, and has made many colourful items which adorn her stall. “Me and my daughter here do all of this crochet work and these baby hats you see here,” she said. Like all Caymanian craft workers, she loves to make things that are unique, such as a woolen chicken, surrounded by 12 egg-holders.
Rosa Harris director of tourism visited the market and talked to the vendors. “Today is an important day for the craft market as we prepare for what we hope might be a transition with Cayman’s borders reopening in a few months,” she said.