Friday, March 9, 2012

ChaChaCha Salaula

Some folks lament that one reason for the loss of traditional dress in Africa is the availability of cheap textiles and clothes from Western countries.  Fair enough.

Some Western goods make it here thanks to a robust trade of second hand clothes.  Those funny Christmas socks you put in the "DONATION" bin?  Likely they come here, or a place like this, Salaula.

This is a new-old style Salaula that has sprung up on ChaChaCha Road since the new President through City Council, is allowing un-permited, informal vendors back on city streets.  More typical is a Salaula Market that is collection of hundreds of stalls set up which all sell used clothes.  This (above scene) is more a mish-mash of produce, dried fish, and other products.

Before you get upset that people are selling the stuff you donated, remember that it had to get here somehow.  Last I checked shipping a container full of anything costs...a lot.  Without knowing the details on what happened to that old Federal Way Little League t-shirt between the time you put it in the bin and the time I spotted at Mondevu, outside Lusaka, I'll carry on.

The ladies that sell these items purchase them in a gigantic bundle.  Big enough to barely fit in the backseat of a sedan, too big to fit in the trunk. The bundle is sealed and they buy either by the weight or just by the bundle.  They clean the items, as necessary, and every day haul their bundle out to sell.  Stuff that makes it to a hanger is more expensive than the stuff that hasn't hit the hanger yet.  A tee-shirt may cost $1-5, a dress $4-6. I don't believe the bundle-buyers get to know what is in their bundles -- they may have a whole load of socks and bras, a bunch of kids winter jackets, or old curtains.  They just buy the thing and dump it out on trading day.

In Lusaka, Salaula is moving out of the informal markets and into formal shops called "Green Shops."

And, because there is a demand, a couple of British ladies started hitting the shops and markets and are hand-picking your Ann Taylor and Marks and Spencer donations and fixing them up to sell at a nice mark-up to a captive audience of expat-wives/trailing spouses who come to an event (a wine tasting or concert, for example) with a drink in one hand, open wallet in the other.

 Street scene along ChaChaCha road 'in town.'

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