Second hand clothing markets mushroom

Oblivious to the strong stench of stale urine from the nearby public toilets, the customers, most of them women, jostle each other for the best buys amid the large stacks of clothing.

People favour second-hand clothes above the new Nigerian and Congolese shops that have recently mushroomed in the city.
People favour second-hand clothes above the new Nigerian and Congolese shops that have recently mushroomed in the city.

The owners of the goods shout at the tops of their voices – believing the noise to be an effective marketing technique.

For many aspiring business people the sale of second hand bales of clothing is the most lucrative enterprise. This has become a common sight almost everywhere in Harare, from the central business district to the high density suburbs.

People favour these clothes above the new Nigerian and Congolese shops that have recently mushroomed in the city. In the past Mupedzanhamo in Mbare was the most common second hand clothes market – but lately many car parks have been turned into market stalls.

Even the police parking bays at Harare Central Police Station have become a market. Many of the clothes are cheap and of better quality than those obtainable in retail shops.

“I prefer buying at these second hand markets because you can get a bargain. I can buy an American designer label at half price and I know that no one can have the same kind of clothing. Now that the markets are located in the CBD, I do not have to travel to Mbare,” said Mercy Nhava.

“These second hand clothes are durable and world class compared to the ones being sold by the new shops. I know that I can never look like the next person as long as I buy these clothes,” said Veronica Nyati from Avondale.

Many women have even resorted to buy cheap second hand underwear at the second hand markets.

Last year, Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced a ban on the importation of second hand underwear and many ladies were not happy with the move.

“I buy what I can afford and I know that I cannot afford clothes or underwear from those expensive shops,” added Veronica.

However, most cross-border traders said that government must strengthen the informal sector. They want government to re-introduce incentives in the sector as was the case in the past.

Angeline Ruomba, who imports second hand clothes from Mozambique and Zambia, said government must support small traders like her so that they can grow their businesses. “Labour remains vehemently opposed to cheap imports. We note with serious concern the deafening silence from authorities who watch helplessly as cheap goods are dumped in the country.

The importation of low-priced and sub standard Chinese goods has had a negative impact on viability and growth of the clothing industry in Zimbabwe,” said Joseph Tanyanyiwa, the General Secretary of the National Union of the Clothing Industry.

“If protected adequately, the industry has the potential and capacity to be used as a vehicle for economic growth…and significantly contribute towards the reduction of unemployment. As social partners in the clothing industry, we have a plan which is still at its infancy. We hope it will go a long way in curbing both the smuggling and importation of cheap and substandard goods,” he said.

Post published in: News
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