BAU: Craft and souvenir businesses are slowly gaining back their momentum to keep them going.
Due to Covid-19, such businesses have had to shift from the traditional way of selling to promoting the crafts to online platforms such as Facebook and many others.
Jelina Fresia, 37, a craft store shop assistant at Serikin said business has been going on as usual for the shop.
“Other stores are also open during the weekends, except for weekdays. As for our shop, we are operating as usual, even during Hari Raya.
“The previous weekend wasn’t as lively as before but sales was satisfactory as there were some customers who walked in and purchased some items. Many people thought that business is as usual here (Serikin), but it’s actually not.
“The borders here are not fully opened yet. It’s only for visitors, but not traders, hence business is still slow for us,” she told New Sarawak Tribune.
Specialising in hand-made rattan mats and furniture, Jelina said these are best-sellers among buyers.
She pointed out that the higher the grade of the rattan mats, the pricier it is.
“If it’s made of Segak emas rattan, the more long-lasting it is and it gets shinier even after 10 to 20 years of usage.
“The Bidayuhs here call it ‘Sogoh’ and it is of high-quality material. There are also other mats which are made up of ordinary rattans and the condition of the mats can be maintained if it’s well-taken care of,” she said.
The price offered for ordinary rattan mats starts from as low as RM400, meanwhile ‘Sogoh’ mats are sold from a starting price of RM500.
Meanwhile, one rattan chair is priced at RM390 and one set of rattan chairs can cost up to more than RM2,000.
Rattan baskets made up of high-quality material like ‘rentian’ are also sold at RM110 each and other affordable home decorations and fashion accessories are also available at the store.
Besides promoting on Facebook, the shop also provides for the cash-on-delivery (COD) system where they will send the items to the buyer’s address and buyers will pay upon delivery or via the postal courier system.
“For COD, we will charge fees according to the location. If in the Kuching area, we will charge RM50. For Kota Samarahan and Serian, it’s RM100. We charge according to the items they bought.
“For customers based in Miri and Bintulu, we usually deliver by bus as it is way cheaper but we will follow the customer’s request if they opt for courier services like Poslaju or J&T.
“Lately, there are fewer trips for COD as many customers opted for walk-in appointments instead,” Jelina added.
She promotes items from the shop daily in order to attract more buyers and visitors.
“This is our way of appealing to them and at the same time, encouraging other sellers to do the same.
“By doing such promotions, it could help make Serikin even more lively,” she said.
Jelina expects that more visitors will come and visit the area ahead of the Gawai celebration this June.
“Looking at our engagements on Facebook, most of them had the intention to come and visit Serikin, especially during the weekends.
“Besides local visitors, there were also tourists from Kuala Lumpur who stopped by recently and purchased mats and some batik cloths,” she said.
Previously in April, Jelina stated that the shop joined Malaysia Crafts Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur and managed to sell out all 70 mats.
“We joined another craft exhibition in Miri and sold out all 35 mats that we brought along. Unfortunately for the Brunei market, our sales has been dropping due to the closure of the borders during the pandemic.
“However, we have so many exhibitions planned ahead of us. We will be joining the Festival Kraf Kebangsaan (FKK) in Miri later this month, Pesta Layang-Layang at Bintulu in between June or August and Pesta Benak in Sri Aman in September.
“Before Covid-19, we always joined such exhibitions to promote Sarawak’s local products and managed to sell many items.
“I am thankful that there are fewer restrictions now and we are able to join large scale crafts festivals to promote our products,” Jelina said.