The Challenges of Mother Nature.

Living in Paradise is a great asset, but it also has its challenges; The weather, the sunlight and outdoor advantages are a blessing, but mother nature can inflict some serious blows, emotionally, financially, and physically.

The Caribbean is prone to hurricanes annually; the Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1 and ends on November 30; but the season peaks in late August through September. There are several ways in which your business and production can be interrupted.

1. You are at risk for wind damage of flooding; if your premises are not properly secured against hurricanes, damages could be catastrophic, Stock could be damaged, even if your premises survive a hurricane, the lost of essential services can take its toll. I have experienced 3 major hurricanes in the last decade; we suffered water damage during one hurricane and lost of production time for over 3 months on each occasion; After Irma lost of production time was six months and loss of business was over 12 months. Electricity, Internet Service, communications were disrupted for over four months and over six months in some areas.

Tourism is the major industry for most Caribbean countries, for Anguilla where I reside it is the only industry. After a hurricane Travel is severely disrupted, hotels close for repairs, damage to airports prohibits planes from landing and many other factors brings tourism to a halt. The only sectors that cannot complain after Irma are the construction workers and the auto mechanics; even so lack of finances to carry out repairs delayed the recovery process.

It is safe to say that most business catering to the tourist industry, lost over twelve months of business in the aftermath of hurricane Irma.

The Impact of the hurricane season is very destructive to Island economies, it is the main reason why we have the two seasons the Tourist Season, which can be as short as four months for some Islands-December to March and as much as five to six months for some. It is unfortunate because some of our best weather can de between June and August; but the fear of hurricanes impact on travel to the hurricane destinations.

Lack of Proper management by some destinations is partly to blame for the misunderstandings surrounding the off-season. It is virtually impossible to run a financially successful business of six months of steady business unless you charge high prices to offset the lack of business during the off-season.

Modern Technology and communication achievement are at such a high level that adequate warning are available to encourage travelers to plan their travels fairly safely within a seven to ten day period. This requires cooperation of the hotels, airlines and Tourism managers; for example, Tourists once traveled to Anguilla during September and October; but most of the major hotels, restaurants and related services started closing during those months, as a result the number of holiday visitors during those months declined to almost zero.

Insurances

How do you prepare for all the negative influences on your business as an Artist and Entrepreneur?.

Only successful and long established businesses might be able to afford the rising costs of insurance today; but if you can afford it you should take out an insurance policy against physical damage, loss of stock and business interruption; Ideal for a business that can afford it, read all the fine print carefully, especially when it comes to flooding; many insurance policies does not cover flooding which is very possible during a hurricane.

If you cannot afford insurance, make sure your premises are secured by hurricane shutters, and at the earliest warning of a hurricane, try to secure your stock and raw materials as much as possible.

It is wise to invest in an adequate size generator for your needs in case you are without power after a hurricane. A supply of solar gadgets will come in very handy, lights and chargers should be top of the list. Add a couple tarpaulin to your list of hurricane supplies.

Save for a Rainy Day

I know this can be the most difficult suggestion for an artist, because we always seem to be struggling; but try to try very hard to save a little money for a rainy day; secure it somewhere it is a challenge to reach it at a moments notice; maybe somewhere where it might be feasible to borrow against it; if it is a secure loan the interest rate should not be too exorbitant

The life of an artist can be a dream come true, and very rewarding; but you must be willing to take the good and the bad.

This year will make fifty years as a full time artist, and I would not hesitate to do it all again; I wish I had the opportunity to learn from some mistakes; now I am giving you that opportunity; Take Heed.

National & International Exposure

Don’t be a big fish in a small pond, seek as much exposure as possible, both locally, nationally and internationally. There are several ways this can be achieved. Build your local, national and international reputation.

Start locally by acquainting yourself with the art programs of your local area and country, many countries organize local exhibitions and competitions; select your best creations for such competitions or exhibitions, solicit the opinions of your customers and friends, they can reflect the opinions of your judges.

During the seventies and eighties the Natural cultural foundation of Barbados featured national exhibitions in several categories of the arts; these exhibitions gave me the opportunity to boost my national reputation, by winning first prize in every completion entered in the visual arts section, you were allowed three entries, which gave you the opportunity to win all available prizes; first, second, third and best in show.

In the beginning there were monetary prizes, I was fortunate to be awarded first prize and at least one other prize for three consecutive years; The last year I entered the competition I was awarded the first, second, third and best in show prizes.

The following year the organizers approached me with an indecent proposal; I was asked to continue submitting art work for the completion on the understanding that they will not be judged, in order to give other artists an opportunity to win prizes. I was willing to accept the proposal on condition that they post a notice saying my entries were not part of the judging process, but were for exhibition purposes only.

My demand met with much opposition, which ended my participation in the exhibitions. The organizers stopped the monetary prizes and used the prize money to pay another artist to design trophies for the prizes; This action had a negative impact on the competition, other artists stopped participating and interest in the competition waned.

Regional competitions and Exhibitions

You can build your statue and resume as an artist by participating in regional exhibitions.

CARIFESTA is a regional Caribbean festival of the visual and performing arts, held in different countries every four years; I am still participating in this festival as a national of Barbados and currently of Anguilla. This exhibition has boosted my reputation throughout the Caribbean; and also opened the doors for invitations to feature successful exhibitions in galleries in other Caribbean countries ; the most successful exhibitions were in Trinidad, Antigua and St. Thomas.

International Exposure

Almost all countries are involved in some form of tourism, with an established Tourist Board to promote the destination and programs. Be very aware of their programs and seek every opportunity to be a part of them.

My success as one of the leading artists in Barbados was recognized by the creative managers of the Tourist Board; this resulted in my being invited to be part of their promotion initiatives in North America;The most successful was participation in the annual Canadian National Exhibition, which had its other spin-offs, radio, TV, and newspaper interviews, opportunities to be artist in resident at three USA Universities, and several one man exhibitions in both the USA and Canada.

During all of these programs my focus was as an ambassador for the island and promoter of its Tourism Project.as the CEO of a local art gallery, it was vitally important. One of my most memorable interviews was conducted by a Canadian radio commentator who came to Barbados and conducted the interview on my porch within earshot of bunch of noisy crickets. When the interview was being aired in Canada, the radio station was inundated with telephone calls to find out what were the background noises.

Opportunities to Further Your Art Education

There are many international organizations that offer training workshops, scholarships and fellowships for artists. Many opportunities go a begging especially when there are sent to government departments; and friends or family of the responsible persons are not engaged in the field offered.

An application for an OAS fellowship was once retrieved from the wastepaper basket in a government office and brought to me, my application was successful ; resulting in my studying ceramic technology in Italy for six months.

International Art magazines are a great source of information to help boost your career as an Artist and Entrepreneur.

Always check with the appropriate government departments or Art Associations for information on any training, exhibitions or exchange opportunities to boost your career.

Taking the plunge

If you are an Artist wishing to survive without having to take a 9 to 5 or part-time job, you must be prepared to suffer some hardships and sacrifices, but I can assure you the rewards are more than worth it.

It is extremely difficult for an artist to survive selling just pure art, whether you are a painter, sculptor, weaver or whatever discipline. Be prepared to supplement your income producing quality fine craft, or you may have to take part-time jobs.

Do not be fooled by the pure art galleries you may encounter. Chances are they have undergone years of struggle before reaching stable and economically viable position, or a wealthy benevolent husband, wife, close friend or organization supports them.

Don’t be afraid to take the plunge, try to open your own small gallery. Look for an affordable rental space in a busy tourist shopping area, or an old abandoned distinguished historic building you can decorate and promote.

Promotion.

I am assuming you have already developed a small customer base, ash your friends, family and established customers to spread the word. Approach your local media to announce your opening and try to engage

Arrange as many local interviews as possible, along with some fliers you and your friends can produce and distribute

Internet Marketing.

Do not Underestimate the power of Internet marketing; this offers you billions of people from all over the world as your market.

If this is new to you, then learning is not a problem, Just click on the advert in the side bar and get started. Consult with someone who is an expert for additional help to speed up the learning process.

Drawing up a business plan

Business plan is vital for the success of you operation.

Things to consider.

1. Setting up a bank account.

2. Can you afford to hire an employee, If the thought is very daunting, organize a time table when you can manage the business during the optimum business hours; I have operated a retail space where late afternoon and early evenings were the best opening hours; restaurants and entertainment bars were frequented by tourists and locals during the chosen hours. This allowed me to produce for at least four to five hours a day.

Currently during the slow season, the gallery is opened from 9 am until 1 pm. the opening hours are prominently displayed on the entrance door. This enables me to produce for another four to five hours a day; and avoiding having to hire staff.

Security.

Strict stock control should be organized, whether you are managing the operation and more so if you are employing a sales staff; this allows you to monitor whether you are losing stock due to theft or dishonesty. Do not clutter your displays; this not only gives your stock quality appearance but it also allows you to monitor sales activity. you may even take photos of your displays, in case you ever had to confirm any queries.

When I started my gallery there were no cell phones for easy capture and storage of photos, but every week I would monitor a particular shelf display, I was able to recognize when an item was sold or missing. If you have been reading my posts, you would have read of an incident where this practice lad to the dismissal of an employee, luckily for me the customer brought the item back to ask for an exchange, the employee had denied selling the item.

Security Cameras

If your budget will accommodate, install a security system with an alarm in case of burglary and a camera or two to monitor activity, the entrance door and the cash station are your first choices; with today’s systems you can even monitor the space from the comfort of your home.

Testing an employee

As a businessman I have learn to “Trust No One”it sounds terrible but you have to face reality, I have employed many workers but there were only 3 that I felt comfortable with; and one of them led me to that slogan-trust no one.

One of the most honest if not the most honest person I have ever met was a young lady who worked in the ceramic workshop, but did house keeping for me on weekends and holidays; I may have told this story before, but I feel compelled to repeat it in this context.

Sometimes when I went shopping and was in a hurry, I would slip the change in my pocket and forget to retrieve it before giving the young lady the clothes to wash, but the change was safe, she would always rest it on a table with a note. One day the young lady approached me with a surprise message” Mr. Devonish please search your pockets before you give me your clothes to wash, I am having some financial difficulties and I don’t know if I have the strength to resist taking any change I find”

Tears still comes to my eyes when I recount this story; my response was “I will try to search my pockets; but from now on if you find any change you have my permission to take it”That lady worked with me for over 15 years until I immigrated to another Island, worked in sales, ceramic production, and house keeping.

Because of that experience a plan was devised to test all sale employees. Employees were told to always report whether cash was not reconciled at the end of the day, whether it was over or under; if it was under they were responsible and if it was over still report it because it may turn up during stock taking.

They were not only told but the system would be tested at certain periods; Extra money would be slipped secretly into the cash register for at least 3 times for an employee; If the extra money was not reported after the third time the employee was dismissed sometimes with a different excuse.

The Banks and credit card companies had done businesses a great service by not displaying the full number on receipts as was the custom in the past. Only once did I experience credit card theft, the customer did not shop at my establishment but the credit card number was used in my establishment to make a purchase.

Soon come—

A lesson in cheating.

This story indirectly involved the Beer House, some of my customers worked in the hotel industry, they would frequent after work and sample the variety of beers; one such customer was a lover of Lowenbrau, a high quality German beer. He worked as a waiter at one of the leading hotel restaurants.

Two close friends were visiting from England and they offered to treat me to dinner at the same restaurant that my Lowenbrau customer was working as a waiter. As luck would have it, he was our waiter and we were treated to excellent service.

When my friends asked for the bill, he whispered – “It’s OK dinner is on me”

My friends were paying, so I insisted on him bringing the bill.

He persisted “Devonish please leave you are embarrassing me”

we did leave without having to pay the bill which was an expensive dinner.

The same week my Lowenbrau friend came to the Beer house while I happened to be there drinking with my English friends.

I pulled him aside, ” You do not own that restaurant, and I know you are not paying for the dinner; How on God’s earth were you able to pull it off, our not paying?”

“It is OK; not to worry”

“But I am worried, I own a restaurant and the thought of what happened scared the daylights out of me”

“Buy the beers and I will teach you some tricks.”

What I learnt made me more scared as a businessman; but it did raise an awareness that remained with me all these years.  unfortunately it led me to adopt the principal of-Trust no one-

The restaurant staff operated in collusion, they had devised unimaginable systems to supplement their incomes.

The Bar

The most outstanding scheme was operated from the bar.

They would buy their own alcohol wholesale; only the hard liquor,- gin, whiskey, rum etc. and when the time presented itself they would sell orders from their own bottles ans share the spoils; which could be substantial when the bar is very busy; this was an unbelievable scheme.

Apparently when a heavy drinker was at the bar presented a field day. I was told that after the first two drinks most heavy drinkers are vulnerable; instead of serving one prescribed shot of liquor, the barman will serve half a shot enabling him or her to own at least one third of each bottle to sell for themselves and offer their friends the occasional free drink.

Colored water.

This scheme has been highlighted before as being learned from my barman, perhaps this is the origin of his knowledge. Heavy drinkers and regulars would offer the barman a drink on his tab, the barman would pour a nonalcoholic drink from his angostura water and charged the customer for an exotic drink and pocket the cash.

The Kitchen

A similar scheme was operated from the kitchen, which enabled the staff to offer their friends a free meal when the opportunity presented itself. I found this more difficult to comprehend unless the purchasing manager was part of the team.

Do not eat after an aggressive complaint about your food.

One piece of advice I have followed from that day onward; it was something my innocent trust in human behavior would never have conceived.

‘A word of advice Mr. Devonish; if you ever have to send food back to the kitchen, be very nice about it; better still don’t eat it. chalk it up to an unpleasant experience. Neither the Chef nor the staff appreciate customers sending food back to the kitchen, especially after complaining in unpleasant manner.

Forgive me if I repeat the story about my having dinner with the manager of the same hotel, who embarrassed the same waiter in front of the group at the table. When I later apologized for the manager’s behavior, he replied-

“Don’t worry Devonish, we fixed him”

A similar story I heard at one of our Rotary came to mind. A particular Rotary club meet every week at a Chinese restaurant for their dinner meeting. They received a talk one evening that pricked their conscience; and they all remembered how shabbily they taunted the waiter.

The following week they approached the waiter and apologized for the way they had treated him in the past, and promised not to do it again.

“Thank you, I promised not to pee in soup no more”

I never complain about food to the staff in a restaurant, If I do I will leave without eating and never return.

Soon come.

The Cheaters-Too smart for her own good.

In the fifty years as an Entrepreneur and Gallery owner, the police were involved in the business three times, the last time was an epic episode.

This incident occurred later in the operation of the gallery, but as I had promised I would get the cheaters out of the way, We hired a very attractive, smart and competent sales assistant to work along with another young lady to manage the day to day sales.

The gallery has always carried a limited consignment stock, checks were written for consignment stock sold between the 7th and the 15 of each month. One particular month the checks were written for the artists to personally collect; one particular artist was off Island, the check was sitting in the desk for a short period.

On return to the Island the artist went to the gallery to collect their check, and the check was missing, no one could account for the missing check; the Bank was informed that the check was cashed during the period the artist was off Island.

One of my fantasies is to be a police investigator. There were only two persons who had access to the check, but a couple of incidences roused my suspicion. One of the young ladies had twice behaved suspiciously in trying to trap me into a sexual compromising situation, but my will power was strong enough to ignore both incidence; but now it occurred to me that there might have been a motive.

The incident was reported to the police by the Bank; the fraud was their responsibility ; the bank teller did not follow the correct procedure by requesting an ID from the person cashing the check. During my interview with the police the question was asked whether the cashier was a man or a woman, because in my opinion if the cashier was a man he would remember the young lady I had suspected.

It was indeed a man and an arrangement was made where the cashier could witness both young ladies without their knowledge.

“Yes I remember the young lady, because I had taken a liking to her” said the cashier.

The young lady was arrested, charged and imprisoned awaiting a bail hearing.

A message was relayed to me asking for help by the imprisoned young lady. She had forged the second young lady’s signature as the person cashing the check, a second signature was forged as the artist authorizing the payment tho the person cashing the check.

When the two signatures were viewed, I informed the police that the signatures were forged, in the first instance the artist was off Island and could not have signed the check, secondly The second signature was forges because the name on the check had a dotted ‘I’ and the particular young lady never dots her I’s.

A visit was made to the police station to meet with the young lady in the holding cell; she pleaded for mercy, and I agreed to help on condition that she give the name of the second signature which was unrecognizable; she blatantly refused; so I left empty-handed and not offering any sympathy or help.

The long and the short of the story, A male benefactor paid the bank for its losses, were able to extract the name of the second signature; but the bank requested the case was dropped by the police. The very attractive young lady went Scot free, there were no charges or conviction on her record.

There was on other incident involving the police, The young lady involved still has my trust and the case only involved the gallery to the point that the young lady was an employee and the fraud was perpetrated from the gallery using our telephone and digital facilities.

Son Come.

The Cheaters No 3

I must admit that I have employed about 45 different employees during my business life; as luck or careful selection would have it ; my experience of cheaters over the 50-year span was very limited.

This incident occurred during the 20the year of my business experience, but I will address it prematurely to get the experiences off the radar.

This particular employee was a mature retired professional person; she came highly recommended and was very familiar with engaging with the public. My trust in her was built up to such a level that my record keeping became somewhat too casual and certainly not up to the required standard for a retail business.

As I was entering the gallery on one particular day, I met a couple in the car park who I knew were family to the employee; they were excited to show me their purchases, which I carefully made a written note of as I entered the gallery. The news of meeting the family in the car park was kept secret. A careful examination of the sales for the day did not include the family purchases.

The matter was not raised for a week, just in case there was some form of arrangement made for future payments; a careful stock take was personally carried out just in case there would be a future debate over the incident. Another week went by and nothing was said nor was the sale registered; It was time to pay the monthly salary and I approached the subject by announcing the meeting with the family in the car park on the day of the purchase.

“Oh I forgot to tell you the items were credited on my account; I will pay for them, but please don’t take the funds out of this month’s salary”

“But why didn’t you record the purchases as was required; your relatives told me they bought the items”

The relatives had left the Island by that time, there was no chance of verifying her story, I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

Sometime during the following month I was informed that she had paid for the items, which were hand woven place mats.

After the employee had left work, another stock check was made and the mats sold for that day were missing from the stock; she could not have made the payment; another double check revealed that the mats were paid for by credit card, providing indisputable that she could not have made the payment, plus there was the evidence of the missing stock.

On further careful examination of what stock keeping there was, there was evidence that the employee was stealing for some time.

The following day the employee was confronted with the facts of her dishonest activities; I assured her that I would not involve the police on condition that I can withhold her holiday pay which was due on termination of employment

Boy of boy, she raised hell, screaming and shouting; You have to pay me you have to pay me”

My only choice was to call the police; they came and arrested her for theft in full view of passers-by; no doubt the scandal was out the following day; only then was I told stories that would have caused me to terminate her employment sooner.

The police decided to carry out a search warrant for the missing place mats in spite of the story of how the mats came to be missing; This was my second encounter with the police and the second time I had experienced their incompetence.

As I had suspected the search warrant was unsuccessful and the police dropped the charges and the issue was not pursued any further, and I was left with the choice of looking for another employee. The successful applicant turned out to be one of the truly honest souls in this world.

That assessment did not come without roof. I had a new method of testing one’s honesty. The retail business is a cash business, so a fixed sum was left in the cash pan for float every day. My instructions to all employees was to acknowledge any discrepancies in the sales on reconciling each day; report it whether it was over or under because there will always be an explanation.

Occasionally an extra ten to twenty-five dollars would be added to the float during the day, unknown to the employee.

The extra cash was added to the float one day, the new employee did not report it, but the following day she was definitely emotionally disturbed as she had checked and rechecked to see if she had made any mistakes; the extra money was not taken, it was still part of the float.

When the question was asked as to why the emotional upset, she explained the additional money and how she could not find the mistake.

‘Sorry I forgot to tell you, I was changing a hundred dollar from the float, but did not wish to take all the one and five dollar bills, the extra twenty was my fault. That particular employee worked in the gallery for years and was one of the three most loyal employees ever graced the managing of the Devonish Art Gallery.

Soon Come

The Divorce From the Beer House.

The greatest challenge with managing the Beer House was the daily shopping, hardly a day went by without having to purchase supplies, especially fresh salad supplies which I insisted on managing personally, since I ate my meals at the restaurant.

New Manager

With the expansion of the Art and craft outlets; time became a major factor; A close relative was hired as the new manager; but my presence could be experienced at any time.

In the meantime there were stressful elements at home, the wife could have been feeling insecure, because she was complaining that her name was nowhere on the documents pertaining to the Beer house. Being the peaceful and considerate person that I am, and to maintain a harmonious relationship in the home, I acquired the services of a lawyer friend, who was one of our regular customers to execute the wish of making the wife a fifty percent ownership in the Beer House.

Unfortunately the relationship in the home continued to deteriorate. There came a point of no-return and I made the decision to end the union, one of the most painful experiences in my life, as there was the problem of a young three and a half beautiful son. The situation was compounded as it involved the wife and son returning to England.

There was no discussion, but out of the clear blue sky, I was confronted with the fact that the wife had sold her 5% shares in the Beer House to my close relative I had hired as manager. The feeling of betrayal was so strong that I made the decision to just walk away.

My close relative was summoned to a meeting, my sentiments of betrayal was made known, and was deepened by the fact that another close relative who was probable the closest friend from among the family, lent the manager the funds to purchase the shares without one word of notice.

The Beer House was handed to my manager relative and 50% owner on the understanding that I was relinquishing all interest in the management of the operation, without offering up my shares. My final words were ” if you make any money send me my share”

I no longer ate my meals there or took any interest in the book keeping of daily operations as a 50 owner of the business. Former customers would meet me on the street and express their sorrow of not patronizing the Beer House anymore and were surprised to learn that I no longer had any relationship with the business, but were relieved to understand why the business was loosing its customers.

Not a penny was received following my departure, but notice of how badly things had deteriorated came in lawyers request for payment for outstanding bills due to one of the main suppliers to the Beer House.

When I explained to the lawyer that I had nothing to do with the business during the period the supplies were ordered, he reminded me that the business continued to receive supplies in my name, I did not notify them of the change, plus I was still part owner in the restaurant.

On consultation with my school mate Layer friend, I was informed that I was in fact liable for the outstanding bills since there was no notice to discontinue the arrangement, and the manager who was my manager continued to make orders which they thought were on my behalf.

The long and short of the story was I had to pay the bills and another family member took over the Beer House until it finally closed, No attempt was made to ask for funds due for my 50% share in the Beer house from the day I walked away until it closed.

Soon Come.

The Nightmares Of A Retail Businessman

Small businessmen are faced with many challenges, overhead costs must be kept to a minimum and must be able to trust your employees; unfortunately this is one of the hardest goal to achieve in business, I have heard horrendous stories from businessmen; I have seen it, experience it and have been the victim of dishonesty on many occasions.

There are two memorable experiences that scared the daylights out of me. I was brought up in the church and has always practiced -honesty is the best policy. I was on vacation in North America and asked a friend, I cannot say we were close; but set off together on a shopping trip, a warehouse where the prices were reported as very competitive. The logic of him offering to pay was beyond my comprehension; maybe the purchases were a gift.

The cashier was a girlfriend, she appeared businesslike and proceeded the checkout, but the costs were nowhere close to the true cost of the purchases. When we got to his I was asked to be paid the true costs of the purchases; there was an arrangement between him had and the cashier. My anger and displeasure was clearly demonstrated. I assured him it will never be repeated, I was blatantly exposed to criminal behavior.

On another occasion in North America, a friend invited me out to dinner at a very upscale restaurant; after consuming almost all the food that was served, one of his own hairs was plucked from his head, placed in the little morsel that remained, as my friend pretended to wanting to vomit, in a manner for all to see, pointing at the hair in plate. The head waiter rushed to the table and ushered us both through a side door, and my friend pretended to be taking out his wallet to pay, at which point the waiter uttered in a soft voice,” I am so sorry, but it is on the house”. I was more disappointed than angry because this was someone I knew for years and trusted.

“If you continue to pull stunts like that you will end up in jail; but if ever we go to a restaurant again, I am paying”

Second Retail Outlet.

A second retail space was opened in Bridgetown to accommodate the expansion of handicrafts, there were adequate suppliers and the increase in my own production warranted the expansion.

The space was small and required only one sales manager; It was necessary to keep overhead costs to a minimum, which ruled out hiring an accounts clerk or a stock supervisor.

After some lengthy brainstorming, a scheme was devised to manage stock control and to find an honest person. My choice was a devout member of a church with good character references. There was a record of all stock entries but supervision required time and labor. The insurance plan was to undertake all shop displays, the sales manager was ordered not to do any rearrangements, even when items were sold from the displays.

Caught Redhanded

Random display shelves were selected and monitored carefully. On one of my visits to the outlet it was evident that a very prominent vase was missing, there was no need to check the records; To my disbelief the sale was not recorded anywhere and the sales manager denied selling it, and suggested it must have been stolen.

The sales manager was issued a warning, the space was small and could be easily monitored. Bless my heart, a few weeks later a lady walked in the outlet with the same vase in her hand.

“Ah Mr Devonish I am so happy you are here, I bought this beautiful vase a few weeks ago, but you brought another since that I like better and wonder if I can make an exchange and pay the difference”

“Can I please see the receipt”

“The young lady did not give me a receipt, but there she is, ask her”

Not a word was exchanged, the young lady walked out and never came back, not even to ask if there was any funds owing to her.

During all my interviews it is clearly understood that there is a zero policy towards dishonesty.

Please whenever you are purchasing from any business especially small business without sophisticated security control, always ask for a receipt, the only time you should refuse a receipt is when you are served by the sole owner.

Soon Come.

The Beer House
My First Negative Experience

The Barman

Do you remembers the barman I hired?, the one that I had encountered in the Tourist Trap, the one I angrily told he should be a slave all his life, my first challenge in the Beer House had his fingerprints all over it.

The Restaurant was doing well, the food was attracting more and more Bridgetown office workers, the reggae music was attracting workers who lived near Town and did not rely on the buses for transport, or they owned their own vehicles Bridgetown in those days was a ghost town at night, but I kept the restaurant opened until 11 pm mainly as a bar with good rhythmic reggae music; some of my old school friends started to become regular afternoon and evening customers.

One school friend who was now a practicing lawyer was causing me some serious concern; he would visit the restaurant before going to the office in the mornings, purchase a bottle of rum, have a couple drinks from it and returned in the afternoon to continue drinking from the bottle; he would continue to perform the ritual until the bottle was finished.

It was my daily routine to have lunch in the restaurant and then leave for the workshop. Collect craft purchases or spend some time in one of the retail outlets. One day after lunch a friend told me he thought the barman was feeding his family from the restaurant daily.

A plan was hatched to try to catch the cheater in action. I wore a beard for years going back k to my college days. The beard would be shaved and was always handsomely trimmed. None of the six staff members knew me before I left Barbados and none of the had ever seen me without a beard; It was a painful emotional experience, but the beard was trimmed for the first time in over five years.

One of my friends was invited for lunch and was to remain with me for the better part of the afternoon; The plan was m friend was to undertake all the ordering; because my voice would be familiar to the staff. Lunch was ordered and after lunch we sat, listened to music and ordered some banks beers.

The three family members entered, were served lunch and drinks and after exchanging friendly words with the barman left without being offered a bill or being asked for a bill; This would only mean that both waitresses knew of the arrangement.

We had had a few beers and I did not wish to be intoxicated, I decided it was time to let y voice be heard, so I ordered the last two beers. “I know that voice, Mr Devonish?”

“Yes it is Mr Devonish”

“Oh OMG you saw everything”

After work, I had a heart-to-heart talk with the barman; he was a good barman and interacted well with the customers; I was not interested in how long the practice was going on for ; I asked him to use his conscience and pay the restaurant what he thought was an appropriate figure.

This led to another eye-opener; he suggested a figure and I did not question it. the arrangement was in exchange for him keeping his job.

“Please do not take it from my wages; I’ll pay from my tips.

“This is a small restaurant and most of our customers are office workers, I can’t imagine they are big tippers”.

“Sometime when guys are drinking at the bar, they will offer to buy me a drink; you see that bottle up there, that is soda water and angostura bitters, when they buy me a drink, I drink that and charged them for a gin or a scotch, and take the money from the cash register. That incidentally is every barman s secret, the take home pay could be larger than the tips.

“If I drank every drink that was offered I will be drunk every day”

The system worked, the money was paid back, the barman kept his job and future family lunches were financed from his tips and money for drinks offered.

Soon Come

Are You Visiting Art Galleries / Craft Shops when on Vacation?
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Supporting Arts And Crafts on Your Travels

I live on the beautiful little Island of Anguilla in the British West Indies; I know you are going to say “Where?”. The quality of life on this little Island is so great that the rich and the famous have kept it a secret for years.

Anguilla is a 35square miles little Island, a 25-minute ferry ride or a five-minute small aircraft flight from St.Maarten/ St. Martín; and it is definitely not just for the rich and the famous, there are mid range properties that are comparable to the rates in other Caribbean countries.

We as artists and craft persons are patronized more from the mid-market travelers than from the rich and the famous.

It is unbelievable that one would visit such a beautiful destination would spend the entire holiday without leaving the hotel and its surrounding beach, except perhaps for a dinner night out. We invite you to include a visit to the art galleries and craft shops next time you take a vacation in any destination.

The inspiration to write these series of articles stem from the fact that our Island experience corporate groups spending a company paid for week and never leaving the hotel and it’s surrounding beaches and never being curious to see what the Island has to offer in the way of art and crafts.

I was reliably informed of a group of over 70 persons that were even given gifts that brought from the home country. How sad.

Are you planning to visit Anguilla?

Enjoy the beautiful beaches of which Rendezvous Bay is my recommended favorite where you can taste the best snapper or ribs at the Sun Shine Beach Shack you have ever eaten in your life at the Sunshine Beach Shack; if you have ever tasted better I would like to know where. I am the most critical and selective person when it comes to eating out.

Rendezvous beach is a very long stretch of beach serving 2 hotels and five beach bars and restaurants including the Dune Preserve owned and operated by Bankie Banks, a popular local Reggae artist.

Art Galleries & Craft Shops In Anguilla

1. Devonish Art Gallery- view bead jewelry by wife Carrolle Devonish; ceramics, wood sculptures and wood craft by Internationally known artist Courtney Devonish who is celebrating 50 years as CEO, 18 years in Barbados and 20 in Anguilla. The gallery is situated in the Cove West End.

2. Anguilla Art & Crafts, -The National Council Of Women runs this establishment where local artist and craft persons can market their work. The council is responsible for my moving to Barbados; I came via a Canadian Training Awards Project to teach ceramics and set up a studio at the council, which is located in the Valley

Lynn Bernbaum Gallery is situated in Sandy ground, a busy area for its bars and restaurants and entertainment. It is also the location of the main cargo port and docking for sailboats. Lynn is a painter from the USA, now residing in Anguilla.

Cheddies Carving Studio.-Cheddie is a very gifted local wood carver with an incredible eye for creations from drift wood. The studio is directly opposite the Galleria and the Devonish Art Gallery, which are located in the same building.

There are a few other locations on the Island featuring Haitian, local and international arts and crafts.