NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A local retailer yesterday stressed that its exit from the Mall at Marathon was due solely to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gabrielle Armaly, operator of the clothing store Jean Junction, told Eyewitness News that the pandemic and subsequent COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions had taken a major toll on the finances of the business.
She said she had opted to pay off her US suppliers and maintain a good line of credit with them rather than opting to remain open.
“Yes, my lease at the Mall at Marathon was coming to an end but I decided to close up shop because of COVID,” Armaly said.
“If it were not for COVID-19, we would have remained open, things would have been flowing smoothly and my staff would have been happy. I was actually looking at opening another business before this pandemic. Just prior to the pandemic I had just ordered a ton of stuff for the store. I didn’t believe it would be this bad.”
Armaly noted that the company has been in existence for 40-plus years, though she had been at the helm for roughly 10 years.
“When your cash flow runs out, that’s it. I was not going to take on a bunch of loans while the government is closing you down,” she continued.
“I had big credit with brands like Lee, Levi, Nautica, and if I didn’t pay them back in a certain amount of time they would cut me out. They would put me on a blacklist and I could never buy from them again. It was cheaper for me to close down and keep my good credit rather than struggle and end up hurting my relationship with them.
“They could care less about [lockdowns] and all of that. I paid all my creditors with the cash flow I had and told them I would come back later. When it comes to business, your credit is your dignity,” Armaly explained.
Armaly said she believes other businesses will follow a similar path as they face serious cash flow issues.
“I have to wait until the emergency orders are done before I go back into business again. The reason all these companies are banding together now is because things are really really rough right now,” she said.
“It’s going to be a very dark and devastating Christmas. Bahamians want to shop online. They are looking for what they can afford, especially in these times. I honestly don’t blame them.
“The cost of living here is too high. The minimum wage is too low. The prices on goods are outrageous. The question is how do you bring the cost down. My rent alone was almost $13,000 a month along with a $2,000 light bill. It’s not cheap to run a business here,” she said.