ASO CHRONICLES Mad rush for used clothes at Kubwa village market
Some years back, used wears, popularly called okrika, were often associated with the very poor, but at the moment, it is a different story as, even the well-to-do also patronize them.
Aso Chronicle, on Sunday visited The Kubwa village used clothes market, which is located few kilometres from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp and it was intriguing to see how people of all classes scrambled for used clothes of all shapes, designs and sizes.
Traders spread bunches of the used clothes on the ground just outside the market building and call out to customers to come and make their choices. Our reporter found out that it is one of the busiest markets for used clothes in the FCT as it starts very early in the morning until evening.
The traders, who are mostly Hausa, start their business as early as 6:00a.m.on Sundays; with buyers who are mostly men, squat or bend down to search through the clothes to select their choices.
The used clothes are given different names, some of them describing how customers go for the clothes while others are just dialectal variations of the general name by which the clothes are known in Nigeria. Popular names such as ‘benddown-select, aso gbanjo, ok and gwanjo, depending on which part of the country one is coming from.
A trader in the used clothes, Muhammed Umar, told Aso Chronicle that he makes as much as N30, 000 on a good market day and if it does not rain and he has first grade okirika. According to Umar, sometimes he employs young boys for a day to help in coordinating sales.
“At the end of the day, I have to pay them. Today is Sunday, tomorrow, we will be at another market in the city to continue, because we have lots of good sweaters and they must finish before the rain goes away,” he said, picking up some of the sweaters.
Usman Bello, an elderly trader in the market, who deals in shorts and trousers, said that he has been in the business for five years and has been using the proceeds from it to sponsor his children’s education and fend for his family.
“I sell according to how I buy and Allah has been faithful to me. On a very good Sunday, I make as much as N20, 000 as profit. Most people prefer our okrika to boutique clothes because what we sell last longer,” he said.
Another trader at the market, Emeka Ikechukwu, who started the second hand business fifteen years ago in Aba, said that through the trade, he has been able to build a house and also buy a car, adding that he had been able to travel round Africa through the occupation.
“You find more quality things here than new ones in boutiques and any quality thing you see here is cheaper when compared to boutique prices. Like that one can go for N800, but in boutiques, they would tell you N4, 500,” he said, pointing at a blouse.
In her view, Mrs. Ibikunle Adegbenro, who deals in babies wears said that the business is not as lucrative as it was before, adding that she no longer get quality materials like she was getting it before, lamenting that it has seriously affected her business.”
“Before, if I open a bag, I would see different attractive clothes, but the story has changed, but I still make some profit,” she said.
Some of the men, who came with their kids, were seen pricing clothes and shoes for their wards.
Ibrahim Sadiq said the prices of new clothes have become so high that his entire household now relies on used clothes, adding: “The little money I have can purchase many clothes here for me and my four children, because the price is affordable.”
A young man looking at trousers in one of the sheds, who simply gave his name as Sadiq, said that he started patronizing the market last year, because, “here, e dey cheaper and they get quality things wey good, pass the one for boutiques.” He added: “The new ones from boutiques are flashy but substandard. A fairly used trousers can serve me for the next four years.
The last one I bought served me for four years and I have come for another.”
Chima Emmanuel, another buyer said he started buying second hand clothes when he came into the FCT and discovered they are all durable and cheaper, compared to the ones sold at exorbitant prices in boutiques and do not last long.
“A shirt in a boutique can cost N3, 000.
The same amount will fetch me five fairly used clothes that I will use happily for the next five years,” Chima said.
Aso Chronicle findings however revealed that wearing used clothes can expose one to several health hazards.
A medical practitioner who craved anonymity advised that buyers should wash used clothes thoroughly before using them to avoid getting infected with bacteria, adding that shoes should be left out in the sun for several days before wearing.
Customers scramble to select used clothes at Kubwa Sunday market.