Harare’s fashion battle… as car boot sales threaten boutiques

car boot sales 3Yeukai Karengezeka-Chisepo Lifestyle Correspondent
Over the past few years Harare central business district has witnessed increase mushrooming of car boot vending craze while the former Ximex Mall continue to be marred with illegal business dealers.

The coming in of car boot sales especially those that specialise in selling trendy and classy clothes was a relief to many fashion lovers because their prices are negotiable while most of the brands are not compromised.

More and more people are taking part in this line of business and they are giving headaches to boutiques and departmental stores who sell the same staff.

Some of the boot sales are predominant at Innez Terrace on the stretch between Harare’s Main Post Office, former Ximex Mall and Joina City and operate from classy vehicles like the Mercedes Benz and BMWs

“I have been doing this business for three years now and it is lucrative. The advantage is we get customers every day mostly men and young boys who love trending shirts, jeans and shoes.

“I get my stuff from Dubai, Zambia and South Africa and my prices are lower than those of boutiques,” said Tinashe Tasara.

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Most operators prefer this manner of business because it is mobile and it exempts them from paying tax and rent.

“Boot sale is an advantage to us because we get hard cash and if the market is low we can always shift to a different place unlike operating in a fixed place like a flea market or boutique.

“We do not pay tax as well as rent so we make reasonable savings. Now I have two more cars that operate at Avondale Shops and in Southerton. We only pay Easipark for parking space,” said Phineas Kadenge.

One frustrated boutique owner who operates near the former Ximex Mall area said his business was affected negatively and urged city authorities to do something to get rid of the car boot sellers.

“It is very painful to see these guys operating in the street and nothing has been done to remove them. My business has suffered because they lure our customers by offering them lower prices.

“We pay tax, rent and salaries to our workers. Government must do something to get rid of these people,” he fumed.

However, some of the boot car operators specialise in selling ironed second hand clothes both formal and casual. From observations made a reasonable number of working class people shop there.

This kind of business is not only confined to fashion craze, others are into grocery and cosmetic products.

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These ones usually start business around 4pm in the city centre to avoid confrontation from municipal police officers.

Car boot sales were popular in Europe in the past before they spread to other parts of the world.

Boot vending is also popular in Nigeria and South Africa. In Zimbabwe it started in the northern suburbs of Harare by some homeowners who wanted to get rid of unwanted goods.

Of greater concern again are shoddy activities taking place at the former Ximex Mall which is also referred to by people as the “Hustlers Eternal Paradise”.

After its demise in 2014 everybody thought that the place would become clean and illegal business activities would dissipate but that was not the case. Up to date the place is still a haven for forex dealers, stolen and latest cell phones dealers as well as other electrical gadgets sellers.

In an interview with one of the hustlers who identified himself as Masimba said he would continue operating at the base as he earns a good living out of it.

“My sister things are tough but I cannot afford to seat at home. I prefer to come here and sell both new and second phones and sometimes on a day I can cash more than $200.

“Although this is illegal I am making a good living out and I don’t get my staff through unorthodox means,” he said.

However, Harare City Council principal communication officer Mr Michael Chideme said such operations were illegal and the City Council is taking measures.

“What these people are doing is illegal they are supposed to operate at designated points but they are not cooperating. We are taking all necessary measures to ensure that all the informal sector move towards the South of Rezende,” he said.

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  • Cde Jairos Tapfuma

    Government is failing in many cases, and at the end of the day finds itself scrambling for revenue from the streets. Government must be able to organize informal businesses so that every citizen contributes to the fiscus in some way. This is why it pains me to pay up my farm levies when some are busiy taking away state land for nothing, yet the same authorities are busy squeezing a few for revenue.

  • Doug SA

    not even that…..the author is confusing a car boot sale which is a once off event to get rid of unwanted stuff, to these guys who are hawkers…..they are hawking!