Godwin Meli, better known as Meli l-Belt (Meli of Valletta), is the man behind Melwin Ltd - a popular shop located in Valletta. It's facade is reminiscent of many traditional outlets in the capital, and has been around since 1932. Interviewed by The People of Malta, an artistic project that shares the stories, emotions and personalities behind the people of Malta, Godwin said that if he had the opportunity to go back in time, he wouldn't choose to be in the business again. “It is way too much work, and it is very demanding. It requires a lot of commitment; it is a huge headache. I stayed on to sell off my current stock and shall keep coming until God gives me the strength to do so.”
Melwin Ltd was established by Meli’s father. His father was a tailor however the business evolved, and eventually started selling items as a haberdashery store on St Zachary Street.
“I grew up here with him and have been coming to the shop for 60 years. After me? Nobody. If the children have no interest, there is not much I can do, and you cannot blame them!” Mr Meli remarked.
Mr Meli explained that in the past, business was different and “the demand was substantial.” He added that the business was really sought after, so much so that there used to be four workers seeing to clients' needs, waiting in the queue outside of the shop. The norm was that people bought material from the market and subsequently headed to the shop for thread, buttons, zips and any material required for sewing.
“Things are different nowadays. If a zip on a dress no longer functions it is thrown away and a new dress is purchased, this is what makes people happy. There are very few people who buy and mend the clothes they purchase, and there are very few tailors left,” Mr Meli added.
He concluded that nowadays, you could count the haberdashery shops on one hand whereas in the past, you would find one in every village. “Here in Valletta you used to find around another four shops like us,” said Mr Meli.
The People of Malta