A matter of discipline
Opinions of parents doing back-to-school shopping in The City on Thursday varied as much as the uniforms they were buying.
The SATURDAY SUN visited smaller stores along Swan Street as well as larger retailers such as Woolworth, S.Y. Adams and Thani’s Shoe Shop and spoke to shoppers and management about back-to-school sales and the current school issues. Their opinions differed on the prices of the items and the issue of school uniforms and what Minister of Education Ronald Jones recently said concerning the need for principals to focus less on uniforms and curb the practice of putting children on the street.
At D’s Mega Styles, sales were reportedly going “okay” but were expected to pick up. A staff member, who did not wish to be identified, said people had not yet recovered from Crop Over.
“I’ve noticed people are still wearing back a lot of their old things but I expect sales will pick up near monthend,” she said.
Ricardo Elliott was in the store buying school shoes for his two sons. When asked about his thoughts on school uniforms – where the girls are being chastised for wearing short skirts and long socks and the boys for wearing tight pants – he said it was not something he personally had any problems with as he made sure his children wore regulation gear. However, he disagreed with Jones’ comments.
“The children need to stick to the rules,” he said.
At Thani’s, the issue was a shortage of stock. One of the supervisors, who identified herself as Mrs Broomes, said they were expecting more but the shipment was late.
“Customers are buying Hush Puppies and K-Swiss, but the cheaper brands are not in yet. The shipment is a bit late but we expect they should be here on time for the rush,” she said.
Broomes said sales were slow so she was not 100 per cent sure there would be a rush in the first place, but remained hopeful.
Keisha Sealy said she was scouring Town for a pair of brown shoes in the right style but was coming up empty-handed, saying Thani’s was her third stop. She said prices were up and the uniforms looked cheap and washed out, but she was not one to complain. On the uniform issue, she said she kept to the rules and her children had to abide by her rules, so there would be no problem.
Judy Archer said discipline began at home and placed the blame for the improper uniforms at the feet of parents. “It’s the parents that make the children go long how they want to go long although some children adjust their uniforms at school, and that is why I like Matthew Farley,” she said.
Over at Woolworth, managing director Martin Bryan said their fastest moving stock were stationery and uniforms. He said the latter was not a problem for them as they did not sell girls’ overalls and their pants met the regulations. He said discipline was at the root of the problem and had to be strictly enforced.
“I think, whatever the standard is, then that should be upheld. It starts with discipline, you have to adhere to it and that happens at school. If principals uphold the rules, the students will learn discipline at an age where they have to learn that if they don’t do so later in life, they will pay the price,” he said.
As for general sales, Bryan said they were even with last year but hoped to get a boost later in the month. “We have everything in place for back to school, so when the customers are ready for us, we will be ready for them,” he said.
Shopper Kelly-Ann Daniel said prices were affordable, while Yvette Fenty said they were getting worse.
“Prices are expensive and going up but you have to either get the items or drop through,” she said.
Fenty said she had two sons and ensured they wore regulation uniforms. She said anything less spoke to a lack of discipline at home.
Cordella Lewis was in Jones’ corner. She said uniforms did not affect learning, adding it was parents having the uniforms adjusted which was the problem. However, she admitted some children took matters into their own hands and it was sometimes hard for a working single parent to monitor their children as they should.
Checks with smaller stores such as D’s Mega Stars and Kuanitos revealed school bags were moving with brands such as The North Face, Air Express and Sprayground doing so relatively quickly.