James Ojo, Abuja
A new trend has emerged in the second hand clothing market in Abuja which is called Gwanjo or Okrika. In terms of customers and time of trading, it has transcends the known features over time.
In time past, only the ‘poor’ or people on the lower ladder of the society are customers of second or second hand clothes with a measure of secrecy. Then Ladies hide purchase from such markets, men device means of selecting jeans. But the reality of the moment and the need to look trendy has changed the narrative as both young men and ladies outdo themselves in making choice at Gwanjo market as observed in some down town areas of Abuja city.
Now, the market opens in the evening when middle level workers are returning from the City, and reach its peak in the night. Also, it was observed that it is now a market where the ‘High society men’ compete with the low income earners of both sex.
Not only that high society men and women compete for choices, the way some rush after ‘new delivery’ is making the market popular in satellite towns around Abuja.
The road side second hand clothing markets are different from the weekly designated ones like the Wednesday Market in Nyanya and the Suleja Second hand market.
Everyday as the evening approaches, available open spaces near major bus stops like the Gwarinpa main entrance, Kubwa 2nd Gate, NYSC junction, Deidei junction, FH A Lugbe junction, are converted to selling points for fairly used clothes.
The selection and buying of second hand clothes in these roadside markets do go with its own drama which can hardly be ignored.
First is the traders who deploy different means of attracting customers. Some in a comic ways of ringing bells, some shout the prices of their goods to win more customers. Colorful lightings are deployed in the night to attract customers.
“One of the gimmicks that had worked for me in this business is the way I market my goods by broadcasting the prices to willing buyers. I resorted to ring bells when my voice start to crack,” Samson, a trader at the Kubwa Second Gate told Abuja Metro.
Martins, who is next to him said that he is able to attract customers because he can speak the three major languages, Ígbo, Yoruba and Hausa and a little bit of Ijaw. Born in Jos of Ígbo parenthood, Martins said he grew up in one of the military barracks in Kaduna where he mixed with other tribes and learn their language.
“This business is good for anyone who can speak different languae. It has helped me well welI. Some colleagues are even jealous because I attracts more customers,” he said.
Aliyu, a second hand cloth seller at Dei Dei junction said that he was attracted to the business by his neighbor, who cones home in the night with large sum of money.
“I used to sell used phones but I was discouraged because of constant police raid of suspected stolen phones. This my neighbor from Imo state was kind to introduce me to be selling Gwanjo.
“He is the one who travels to Lagos or Onitsha to buy and shared me after which I will pay him, he even taught me how to sell and I am now an expert. He is a nice man, and I now feed my family from the profits be chase more people are buying second new cloths including big men with big cars,” he disclosed”
At the Gwarinpa Estate main entrance along Kubwa Expressway, Abuja Metro witnessed a drama between two young men who slugged it out over a white shirt.
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The guy who arrived first had selected five shirts and went into his car to bring money, but before he returned, another person had removed two out of the five shirts and replaced them.
A shouting match ensued between the two customers and It took the intervention of another trader who saw what happened before sanity could prevailed.
A similar show happened at the Kubwa Second gate when Austin, the trader got a buyer who offered a higher price for a shirt he had reserved for an old customer. His attempt to make a higher profit boomeranged as the old customer arrived at the point when he was about collecting money from the new customer.
“This white shirt that I bought at N500, you can’t get it at N5000 in some of the boutique of Mall, they will come and buy it here and dry clean it with starch, by the time light is beamed at them, you will think it worth the price, people are becoming wise o with this hitting economy,” a young man who paid N1000 for two shirts said.
He went further,’ it was my colleague in office who open my eyes and introduced me to this place. I must confess to you that I was jealous of his trendy look, particularly in white shirt. I even discovered that the spends far less to look superlative, he has showed me where he picks his shoes, belt and suit,” he disclosed.
Trading in the open spaces has its own hazard apart from Area council officials and Transport unions who constantly harassing them after paying levies with no official receipts to back such payment.
Martins corroborated what Austin said on the harassment by council officials, adding that it was easy to settle with Driver unions who used the open space as garage during day time.
“We cooperate with them on individual basis because we are yet to form a group , some if us are trying to do sons thing to make ends meet, may be later we might firm ourselves into group to fight for members.
“Can you imagine that the council officials are using the police and Road safety to intimidate us, but when you consider the gains and the fact that no business that is free of risks, we pay the charges, my brother it is better than begging or robbery and truly, the number of customers buying from us has rising, which goes along with profit margins,” he said.