What was once a business not many considered has now become a ‘go to’ and a source of income for so many people. Second-hand clothes selling, thrifting or ‘fandisa’ has now become a normal business that you can’t get on many social media platforms without coming across a post advertising their merchandise in one or the other group.
With the economy in a crunch, many people have taken to selling second-hand clothes to help fill in the gaps financially. The items are imported into the country via Walvis Bay Port, or the Namibia-Angola border in the north, many of them imported originally from the USA, Korea, Japan, Turkey, India, England, and many other countries.
Before a singular item is sold, it goes through a process. The clothes are bundled or packaged at the main supplier, who sorts them into different categories ranging from men, women and children’s clothing, shoes and even beddings, handbags and swimming costumes. They are also graded according to their quality, ‘A grade’ being very good quality and ‘C grade’ not as neat. The bundles or bales are then sorted according to their sizes, some weighing as light as 25 KG and others 50 KG. Some bales are mixed, you get a bit of everything in the one bale, which is more convenient to people who may not necessarily have the means of buying multiple bales at once. The main supplier can then sell the bales to bulk clients who in turn sell the individual bales to resellers who are interested in selling the clothing one by one.
The bulk buyer sometimes only orders clients’ requests instead of buying blindly, and this is to ensure that everything sells instead of sitting with items no one wants. The unique thing about this type of businesses is that there is always something for everyone, and no two bales have the same items. The clothes range from modern clothes, formal wear, sportswear, winter and summer clothes, you name it. And because they are imported from Asia, Europe and America, they include some very well worn and well-known brand names, including limited edition vintage pieces.
The reseller can sell the items from their home, online or at the market, and competition is not a thing as each item is unique and is less likely to come in multiples. If one takes the time to salvage through the mountains of clothes, you will be surprised at just what you might come out with at reasonable prices. The cost of a bale depends on its quality, size and type of item in it. For instance, a bale of A-grade women’s vintage dresses may cost little more than a C grade bale of Men’s sports pants of the same size. Most bulk sellers sell bales from as little as N$1500.00 to N$4,500.00, with most bales having as many as 300 individual items in it.
These types of businesses were commonly known around a few markets countrywide like Omatara of Oshakati and Ondangwa, at the Rundu Open Markets and Okuryangava Market in Windhoek. Their target market has shifted from people who could barely make ends meet to everyone looking to find a cute vintage piece, to brand enthusiasts, and the working class looking to buy office wear in bulk. The demand has surpassed the supply which is why starting such a business is a good idea as there is more than enough seat at the table. Successfully running such a business requires only determination and innovative minds to be able to come up with unique ways to sell better.
You may want to make a little extra cash on the side, or are looking to keeping warm in quality winter coats and boots that would not cost you an arm and a leg, don’t be shy to visit your local open market or order from that person that always floods the WhatsApp group with pictures of wrinkly looking clothes. They are good, they just need a wash, iron and a little love. Don’t worry that the person selling that vintage dress you like is in Ongwediva, they might courier it to you at a little extra fee, and it will be worth it.