Where do you go in Dakar if you need baby clothes? What about a long tunic to wear over pants? Ski gloves? Platform heels? Tea pot? Hello Kitty purse? Cowboy boots? Fly swatter?
The Senegalese version of the American shopping mall may very well be the Saturday market along Front du Terre. Whatever you need, they’ve probably got it in there somewhere.
I’m a big shopper (no surprise to some of you), so when Jeana mentioned she was going to Saturday market, I got in on it asap. We met up at about 9:30am at the far end of the market (rond point Liberté 6) and got a little briefing from Jeana on how this operation works.
The majority of the stalls sell used clothing. You can barter on prices for nicer items, but in general each stall has a fixed price per item. For example, a table piled high in baby clothes might sell items at 300 cfa (about 50 cents) each. Men’s shirts on hanging from ropes around a nicer stall may sell for 500 cfa (about $1) each.
As we walked down the market, which extends for nearly a mile along the median of a fairly busy road, some of the vendors were still setting up. They spread out empty rice bags on the ground to keep the dust and sand off their wares. Then out came the bundles: used clothing from the US pressed into a tight square, then wrapped tightly in cords. When the cords are cut, the clothing spills out into a bright, big pile on the rice bags.
Dive in quickly if you want the best bargains! As soon as a bundle is ‘released’ people swarm to it to dig through and find the best deals. Gap jeans, Liz Claiborne sweaters, little Osh Kosh overalls… It took us a while to get brave enough to dive in, but it paid off when we did.
Cheikh bought two shirts and a barada (tea pot for making attaya). I didn’t actually buy anything. (Aren’t you proud of me, Abby?) I’m saving my centimes for when Jeana and I go to HLM market – THE place for buying fabric and Senegalese clothing!
So, who wants attaya?