FACE in the crowd, Marie Joseph is a 70-year old full of life individual who has worked in one of the island’s oldest establishments, the Castries Market, for over two decades.
The market vendor who hails from Dennery but lives in Bisee is a widowed mother of two daughters and a grandmother of seven.
Joseph told The VOICE that she loves life and herself and has so far lived a beautiful life. She said she loves a good time and was a self-proclaimed party girl in her younger days who loved dancing and going to the cinema.
Today, Joseph can be found in the produce section of the world famous market selling local spices including pepper sauce and cinnamon and also other non-food products including local brooms, jewellery, coal pots and woven bags.
The VOICE: You came to the Castries Market 23 years ago, can you remember what your first day was like?
Marie: Oh, it was a beautiful day. That day, I brought some dasheen and potatoes and I sold it all…it was beautiful. The next day went the same way. The sales were excellent and things were flowing nicely. Things have really turned around now. I don’t know what happened. Sometimes you come to the market and you get no sales. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s really bad.
The VOICE: What is it that you like about being a market vendor?
Marie: You’re on your own free time. You can come and go whenever you want to and you have no boss telling you what you can do and where you can go. You are free.
The VOICE: What is your best memory in the market?
Marie: I don’t have just one but all I can say is meeting people and making friends is the best. We really talk to each other and we share. We also learn a lot from what people go through and we get experience so that we can teach other people. We pray together and we share and to me that is the best experience.
The VOICE: What kind of customers do you come across on a daily basis?
Marie: I get good and friendly people, both locals and foreigners
The VOICE: If you could change anything about the market, what would it be?
Marie: Well before it was much better. I cannot even begin to compare it to what it was like before. Right now today, we have a good market but as soon as it rains, we don’t have a market, we have a river. Everyone has seen it but no one has solved it. It needs to be fixed.
The VOICE: Many people, especially younger folks are complaining that there are no jobs. Being a vendor and your own boss, do you agree that there are no jobs?
Marie: Darling, you can create your own job. You can do your own things. Right now, people must learn to do things for themselves because the big jobs are scarce. You can make foods, dolls, clothes, do little jobs for people…you can do something and get something at the end of the day, you don’t have to beg.
The VOICE: Now you have many years of experience but do you have any advice for the new vendors coming to the market?
Marie: When you make your sales, don’t use all your money. Put something aside and continue with your business and make it grow. Use some money and save the rest because you never know when sickness or hard times will come. When it comes, you must have a dollar somewhere to push your hand and help yourself but you cannot take all your money and do business with it.
Another tip, be friendly with your customers. Make them feel good and work with them to get your sales so if you have to lower your prices for some things, do it… you will make it back with something else.