The Sunday to Sunday Second Hand Clothes Market In Akwanga, Nasarawa State is one market that no one wants to miss as it has become the attraction of not a few in the state. Adjusting to the reality of economy of the country, residents take pride in what their pockets can afford. Danjuma Joseph (Lafia) visited Akwanga and reports.
“Yes, I do buy Okrika or bend-down select; believe me they are good, I buy it now because that is what I can afford. I decided to buy these ones (displaying the wears in her left hand), when I wash them with hot water and iron them, they will turn to new clothes. Things are just too expensive. One cannot understand the kind of change we are going through,” said Mary Sabo, a student of one of the tertiary institutions in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.
She told our correspondent that there was nothing wrong in patronising fairly used clothes, simply because it is affordable.
“Apart from the fact that it is cheap buying them, they last longer. If I were to buy three ‘tops’ with N5, 000 in a boutique, half of same amount would get me about 10 of such shirts as fairly used ones with better quality,” Mary proudly said.
Another student, Steven Adeka, said, “Do you know that in most cases, the used clothes you see being displayed by the road side are often the same being sold in some of our so called boutiques?”
Displaying a nice looking, well starched and ironed shirt, Adeka said: “This shirt, isn’t it good on me? I bought it by the roadside. If I don’t tell anyone no one knows that it was used. That’s simply the secret of some of us who aren’t rich but are smart in getting good things,” he said.
If you are a first timer to Akwanga town, there is no signpost that announces the market, but the sight of heaps of used clothes with both sellers and buyers meandering at the both sides of Akwanga-Keffi-Abuja highway, coupled with the smell of Okirika (second hand) clothes oozing out of the place, you definitely would notice something is happening.
There is always one thing or the other for everybody, as far as the market is concerned. This, perhaps, explains the increasing patronage the second hand clothing market in Akwanga, the headquarters of Akwanga local government area in Nasarawa State, continues to enjoy.
Just as it is in any second hand clothes’ market across the country, be it Lagos or Jos, the relatively cheap wares in the market have made it irresistible for the people of Akwanga and others who come from neighbouring towns like Wamba, Nasarawa Eggon, Andaha, Garaku and parts of Kaduna State (Sanga LG). Most of them go to the market to shop for the entire family and especially for their children.
LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that most families visit the second hand wares market during the festive periods to get good materials and first class clothes, every Sunday, when the dealers unveil new bags.
A cross section of the interviewed customers said the second hand clothes’ market is patronised in preference to the new clothes and boutiques because of the assorted materials, which could be purchased cheaply.
Some of them said they were motivated to patronise the market due to the paucity of funds, because of irregular payment of majority of the workforce at the grassroots level of government in the state.
LEADERSHIP Friday findings also revealed that many relatively poor people prefer second hand clothing, with the belief that it lasts longer.
Our correspondent reports that many people from the middle class to the working class also prefer to buy the second hand clothes which they call “Okrika”; some call it Bend down select”, while others call it “Wash and Wear” and in Hausa, it is called Gwanjo (second new).
No matter how downgrading the names may sound, the bottom line is that the business of second hand clothes across the nation will continue to thrive and remain a major source of livelihood to many households.
Findings further shows that the second hand clothes, which are termed “contraband” by the government, are imported from different countries like the United Kingdom, United States, Dubai, China, Korea and other European and Asian countries, through Cotonou in the Republic of Benin and Togo.
Our correspondent observed that, items like undergarments, clothes, shoes, socks, bags, curtains, bedspreads, weave on, used jewellery, especially different shades of female clothes like shirts, tops, and skirts are in abundance in the market.
LEADERSHIP Friday ran into another student who, preferring anonymity said, “This is where I get my clothes when I am going back to school. I just budget N5, 000 and I get as many as I want and they are cheap. Some people keep saying Okrika cloth is not good because it’s second hand, but when you wash the cloths with hot water and soap and you iron, it looks like brand new,’’ she said.
Some of the traders who expressed satisfaction over quick sales of clothes and shoes during the festive period told our correspondent how happy they are during Sallah or Christmas periods.
On his part, the chairman, second hand clothes dealers in Akwanga market, Nawasiru Aliyu, insisted that imported used clothes are of better quality than the new ones. “A lot of people prefer to buy imported used clothes and shoes because they are of good quality; strong and not common, like the new ones you see everywhere.”
Aliyu, said they open only on Sundays, due to lack of enough space in the Akwanga neighbourhood market, “So, on Sunday, if our Igbo brothers who are owners of these shops go to Church, we take advantage and display our goods for customers. We have been doing this for years; we never had problem with any of the Igbo traders, we relate very well. In fact, some of them turn out to be our customers.”
He attributed the high patronage of their merchandise to its affordability. He further said that their members also import high quality materials that would last for a long time for their customers.
Aliyu said the prices of the second hand wears are not fixed and very cheap, “Some cost higher based on their grade level; while others are sold at cheaper prices. In fact I really like the business because I have been able to achieve many things with the profit I made from the sales.
“Government should encourage traders dealing on second hand clothes instead of overstressing them with multiple levies. The society needs them because second hand clothes are cheaper to buy and guarantee more patronage from buyers and sellers,” he said.
He appealed to the authority of Akwanga local government to allocate land for them to boost their business and enable them sell their products on daily basis, instead of Sunday market.
The district head of Akwanga town, Sir Anthony K Yamusa-KSM, commended the traders for maintaining the peace in his domain. He attributed such to the working synergy between his office and all the security agencies in the area.
“We thank God for this market in our community for many reasons. It has made our community popular in the country and at the same time, it has created employment opportunities for people in the community,” Yamusa said.