Mode Alive opens to mad rush in San Fernando

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Managing Director of Mode Alive Gary Aboud cuts the ribbon with San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello and Minister of Agriculture Land and Fisheries, Kazim Hosein to open the New Mode Alive location at Coconut Drive, Cross Crossing, San Fernando. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

JUST in time for the Christmas season, Mode Alive director and CEO Gary Aboud threw open its San Fernando doors on Thursday morning, to a mad rush of customers waiting to get in, despite complaints about the high cost of living.

As prayers were being said to bless the new store, located at Green Acres, near Cross Crossing, a passenger in a passing car shouted out, “Open the store quickly, I want to come and spend my money.”

Retail manager Crystal Joseph said it had been a few years in the making, but the company was happy to be in San Fernando to share with customers what has been offered at Mode Alive’s Port of Spain and Curepe branches. The stores sell home decor and fabric. The new store is at Green Acres, San Fernando, near Gulf City.

San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello, who joined Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein and Aboud in cutting the ribbon to open the store, said the timing was impeccable.

“This is a very special morning, opening a branch of Mode Alive in a city that is very much alive. San Fernando is on the cusp of development. So much is happening, so your timing is impeccable.”

Like Hosein, Regrello said having a branch in San Fernando takes away the loss of productivity in terms of the hours southerners have spent on the highway to get to Aboud’s stores.

Managing Director of Mode Alive Gary Aboud chats with members of his staff at the opening of the New Mode Alive location at Coconut Drive, Cross Crossing, San Fernando. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

Hosein commended Aboud on the number of women among the 45 members of staff, saying they are the backbone of the business. He urged them: “Serve your customers with dignity, honesty, transparency.”

Aboud’s uncle Elias Chamely, in commending and blessing the venture, told the employees to consider themselves not as “working for,” but rather “working with” Aboud.

“When he succeeds, you succeed. When he fails you fail. Let us do what is right because it is the right thing to do.”

In his address, Aboud said when he started the business in the 1980s he was inspired by the suffering and hardship of people living in Central America and wanted to create something that represented quite the reverse.

He recalled seeing malnourished, barefoot children living in squalor just outside the gates of people who owned private planes and a string of luxury vehicles.

“I wanted something more than a trading company. I wanted a company that had a greater sense of community, and a face.”

Employees who work for two and more years with his company qualify for a scholarship of $10,000 a year. One employee is studying law at present, thanks to this fund.

A customer looking at rugs at the opening of the New Mode Alive location at Coconut Drive, Cross Crossing, San Fernando. – Photo by  Lincoln Holder

The company also offers a house-building fund and a subsidy fund, among other benefits, which Aboud said would increase as the company grows.

While the company is still not exactly where he wants it to be, Aboud said, he has created inside his stores, which are decked with inspirational messages, “our own little cathedral,” away from the chaos, difficulties, violence and selfishness on the outside.

His employees, he said, are handpicked by him, not so much on qualification and intelligence, but for their compassion and love.

“Persons who represent us must have that purity of heart, and I must say, San Fernando is a pure place. I am not speaking against the northerners, but the southerners have a kinder, more sensitive – don’t want to say rural, but more pristine approach to each other. Maybe the urban north has made us a little brittle, and we need to learn from the south.”