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Owino in Sweden?

By Vision Reporter

Added 5th November 2004 03:00 AM

The difference lies in the products on sale, the condition of the products, the people behind the stalls and the motives for the sale

The difference lies in the products on sale, the condition of the products, the people behind the stalls and the motives for the sale

By Angella Nabwowe
in Sweden

The difference lies in the products on sale, the condition of the products, the people behind the stalls and the motives for the sale.
At our popular Owino market, oh sorry, St.Balikuddembe, those, who man the stalls are purely business people selling second-hand clothes and shoes, among others.

The situation here is different. Swedes, especially over the weekend, either put tables outside their apartments, in the backyard or go to a designated store to dispose of their household stuff they no longer need.

The items on sale range from clothing, shoes, computers, appliances, baby items, phones, utensils, flowers to furniture. It is everything apart from underwear. The merchandise is not new, but in good condition and one pays a fraction of the retail prices.

Many Swedes sell off their clothing at second-hand stores after wearing them a few times.
People put up sign posts at the road announcing major sales at their residences or go to the store in the city. The one in my location is called Österplan. For the stalls or tables put up in residential areas, it is tax free. But for the stalls at the store in town, one pays a very small fee to rent a table or two, depending on the amount of items one wants to sell.

The prices are incredibly low because the motive behind the sale is to get rid of the stuff, not to make money as the case is for Uganda. “ It is all about our society having so many things, we constantly buy lots of things. We need new things continuously to be happy and it is a result of our capitalistic oriented society”, says Ann Nyström, a Swedish radio journalist.

Nyström says ‘garage sales’ are a common phenomena in Sweden. “We are constantly renewing our wardrobes, kids get new toys all the time and the shops advertise new commodities. But personally, I would rather take my old clothes to the church for donation to charity in Africa.”

They sell to neighbours, passers by, immigrants and, of course, international students like me, who have light wallets.
“I bought a winter coat at SEK105 (sh24,000) at Österplan, a brand-new one goes for SEK1000 (sh235,000) in the ordinary shops in the city. Such stores are a perfect substitute for us international students, who are not comfortable with hefty spending since we have to buy text books as well,” commented Nigist Abraha, a student from Ethiopia.

Mervi Itkonen, a journalism student from neighbouring Finland, says, “ the culture is good. Here they have big second-hand stores compared to Finland and the prices are low. If I buy a coat and use it for three winters, it is still good but I am tired of it so I sell it off.”

A mother can go with a daughter or son to sell off household stuff. This might sound tricky especially for Ugandans, who are too proud to be seen near Owino or another second hand store.

Fellow Ugandans, it is not a must you have to sell off your old stuff, there is an alternative. Put that stuff in your car boot and drop it at church for the benefit of those in the Internally Displaced Persons Camps (IDPs) in northern Uganda.

I wish Ugandans would borrow a leaf from this Swedish culture, especially those, who are faced with a mini crisis of cockroaches and rats, which find haven in homes packed with lots of useless gadgets.

Let’s chart out the long-term solution of eliminating these stubborn creatures instead of spending thousands of shillings on fumigation. Do not blame the fumigation companies for not advising you on this, every service industry needs corporate clients to break-even.

If rats have had free rein in your home for decades, those days may be over if you make a decision now to clear your home of what is no longer in use. The ever-increasing pressure to create more space will be dealt with in the process.

Obviously, it is easier said than done, but it can be done. It is going to be my first assignment when I return home.

In Sri Lanka, second hand clothes are not popular. People there, however poor, do not want to wear anything second hand or even buy used equipment like fridges, fans, computers.

Ruwanthi Kariyawasam is a student from Colombo, Sri Lanka; “when I heard about second hand shops in Sweden, my feeling was not good. But I was so surprised when I went there. The items looked very new and were in good condition and the prices were very low.”

“Malawians in towns and villages often purchase used items, and so I felt no qualms visiting the second-hand shop in Örebro. New commodities are expensive and to my delight I got myself clothing and shoes at a rock-bottom price,” says Joe Mlenga, a student from Malawi.

I have personally landed luxury bargains and since I discovered the second hand store, I have been reluctant to go back to the mainstream shops. Having a light wallet, I have found the quality and design labels the same. One doesn’t have to spend a fortune, especially if you are a student.

The writer is a masters student of global journalism at Orebro University, Sweden

Owino in Sweden?

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