A Jamaican Made Christmas is a two-day exposition put on by the National Baking Company at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, just in time for shoppers looking to purchase Christmas gifts before the season gets into full swing. This is its fourth staging and for 2018, it welcomed 100 exhibitors, giving 100 local entrepreneurs invaluable exposure. For a country which imports more than it exports, expositions like these are important in showcasing Brand Jamaica, encouraging consumers to buy local products and build our local economy. The exhibitions ranged from aromatherapy, jewelry, bags and T-shirts, to books, cake-mixes, satin bonnets and artwork. I hadn’t initially planned on writing about this afternoon out with my family so bear with me and the hurried recap.
Conveniently held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel ballroom in New Kingston, the venue is rather easy to locate. Parking is available on the grounds of the hotel as well as across the road by the National Housing Trust (NHT)’s parking lot with a free shuttle provided. Admission is J$1,200 per person, with children under 12 entering for free, and includes two vouchers valued at J$500 each to encourage patrons to buy gifts. I found this detail rather nifty since essentially, admission is $200 because you receive the $1000 back in kind somehow. The only glitch was finding items affordable enough if you didn’t want to do additional spending. I appreciate this year’s complimentary reusable tote bag too as Jamaica moves to eradicate single-use plastic bags by early 2019.
My Experience at the Expo
For starters, if you regularly attend expositions showcasing local artists and entrepreneurs, things get very repetitive. Oftentimes it’s the same businesses and faces and products, just a different venue. Also, like I’d said in my review of the Liguanea Art Festival last year, I’m no expert on the costs of manufacturing these oft beautiful items on a small scale. However, prices always seem very exorbitant to me with similar items I’ve seen elsewhere costing as much as five times the cost when on display. I’m all for supporting Jamaican brands but I’m also looking for bargains. If I can’t get items at affordable prices when I come out to these expos, these said items will remain un-bought. There are just too many lovely things around competing for the same measly wallet.
In case you read this tonight and intend to catch day two tomorrow, here’s a quick guide on how to maximize your visit:
- Get your hands on the Friday November 23 Jamaica Observer’s brochure listing all the participating companies. Make your own list of the ones you specifically want to visit and maybe do a social media search or run it by your friends. Chances are you’ll get a better idea on which products are worth the purchase in terms of cost and durability etc.
- Use the complimentary Booth Listing which you’ll receive on entering to locate your desired booths and visit these first, aiming to use your vouchers there.
- Take a leisurely stroll afterwards through each aisle and get as many samples as you can. Samples I got today were sweet potato pudding, Christmas cake, rum cake and coffee cake (all made from local cake mixes available in supermarkets islandwide), Caribbean Passion ham and jam with crackers.
- If all else fails and you end up not finding any affordable pieces, do what most patrons did today. Join the forever long queue by Deaf Can! Coffee and purchase delicious teas, coffee drinks or fruit smoothies with your vouchers. Prices start at $350 up and you’re also supporting a lovely venture by a group of hearing-impaired entrepreneurs.
I’m pleased with my purchase from Satin Bonnets Jamaica (maybe this is the step in the right direction my hair needs). And all in all, while I honestly was not wowed by the Expo having seen most of these companies before and still being unable to afford their products on a student budget, I suppose it was a good family afternoon out and an excellent way to bring loads of local businesses together. Hats off to the CEO of National, Butch Hendrickson, for making this event possible each year. He literally funds all the overhead costs of renting the venue, getting the booths etc. All the exhbitors have to do is apply and well, exhibit.
I rate the expo three stars, ☆☆☆.
Also, do go out and support the last day tomorrow and bookmark the last weekend in November next year for the expo’s 5th annual staging.
Now, please excuse me while I go recover from my sugar rush from earlier. 😩😩 Thanks for reading!
‘Til next time, ✌🏽.