This guys’ issue on shopping has been a long time coming and I apologize for that; and much thanks to Tonny for dragging me out to take him shopping at Gikomba. It was muddy, stinky and the middle road was downright impassable- unless you had gumboots which we didn’t-so we chose one side of the streets and stuck to it. Gikomba even for someone who’s been there before can be pretty confusing, especially the moment you step into the dark, drier inner stalls which are sheltered. My pal was looking for a few shirts, khakis, T-shirts and perhaps a nice sweater if the budget allowed.
First thing to hunt for was the shirts- which we found in some of the sheltered stalls- but most of them turned out too big and some sellers were throwing around prices like 400 shillings for each. Truthfully, if they were a good fit, some of them would have been totally worth it. But we were looking for slimmer shirts so we moved on and upon asking around, we got our very own shopping assistant who led us to where we could get the shirts we sought. Now normally, it’s a bad idea to trust anyone to take you through creepy, less populated alleys but the market was pretty crowded so we felt a little safe.
And we got to the really nice shirts where we chose three fabulous ones. Then the seller throws the ridiculous price of 2100 for the three shirts and I’m like “WHAAAAAAAAAT?!”
Tonny isn’t even that shaken and I am tempted to ask him if that’s the normal price but I can’t do that in front of the seller because he might probably stick to the price with the excuse of “Even the guy knows…”
So I do my wide-eyed shocked routine and shake my head sadly because we really might have to leave all the shirts. And the seller quickly asks what we have because he can slash it down to around 2000 shillings. And I remind him that we might as well go back to the stalls that sold shirts at 400 bob meaning his whole journey to bring us to his stall was a freaking waste. And he launches into something about how tumemgonga and we respond by sadly saying how awesome the shirts are but we really can’t stretch the budget that much… In short, his shirts are amazing but not worth that much cash, come on! He settles at 1200 for the 3 shirts and even though I still feel like it’s a rip off, Tonny seems very happy with the cut. So we move on to khakis and the same guy leaves his stall to someone and leads us there so that after sometime, I don’t feel so bad about the 200 on top of the 1000 we had stuck to. We tell him to consider the 2 soo as his tip and everyone’s happy.
The khaki pants place is very busy in Gikosh and there are the actual sellers mixed with middlemen looking to make a little cash from referring customers. But our guy seems to know exactly who to go to and we get to a seller with a nice range of khaki pants of really good quality. Tonny needs khakis in three colors- khaki, dark (navy/black) and one grey.
We get the shades we need and then another ridiculous price is thrown at us. 3600 for the three and this time, my shock is not practiced. It must be pretty evident because the seller promptly adds “Ni bei ya kuongea.” When he offers to come down to 3500 I laugh at his joke and consult with Tonny, who again, is not that fazed. I suspect it’s a guy thing to not negotiate. Apparently that’s the price he buys them for at Kahawa, and from the bottom of my heart, I acquire a new-found respect for guys who wear good clothes and actually look great in them.
I remind Tonny that we still need T-shirts and that sweater he badly wanted, and he has this torn look on his face because the khaki pants are really too good to leave. Personally, I want to walk around the market some more, so there’s no way I’m letting the budget end here.
“2500 final price,” I tell the guy who lets out a groan of disappointment. He also launches into how much tumemgonga but when we offer to leave one of the pants, he quickly accepts our price and gets us a paper bag to pack them up. I am pleased by our current progress but Tonny is already looking forward to leaving and I wonder out loud, how someone can hate shopping! I mean I was sickish that morning but I came all the way just to shop- and it wasn’t even for me!”
We let our guy go and launch into a familiar territory where we don’t need taking. We go past stalls with T-shirts selling at 50 bob and move on to some the hanged ones which I know, will be expensive. The guy there prints all kinds of shirts- Bob Marley’s face, Che Guevara’s, weed, some quotes… and they look really new and cliché. He says they cost a thousand and we promptly leave despite his attempts at asking about our price. Tonny just wants decent shirts, nothing fancy.
So we go back to the good old 50 bob stall and manage to find really nice and fitting shirts that could pass for 200 shillings if the seller took pains to fold them neatly. Four shirts down, and we are on our way out of the market when we see the nice male sweaters hanging from a stall we’d passed on our way in.
The sweater guy decries our ignoring him when he was calling us to his stall at first and we apologetically tell him that we didn’t mean to. The sweater that had attracted Tonny turns out to be too big and most of the others are those deep V-necked sweaters which are popularly referred to as “gay sweaters”. Tonny won’t look at them twice. Thankfully we find another nice one inside his stall and it’s so good Tonny opts for M-Pesa to get it. When he’s gone to withdraw the cash, I find me a nice pair of navy blue gloves which I bully Tonny into buying and we leave, both of us satisfied and happy (don’t try to make that into some perverted pun you!)
We conveniently spent about an hour in all our rounds and I have to admire guy shopping; the whole focus to get this, this and that- and leaving the moment you have exactly what you’d planned to purchase. It’s a good thing I was broke that day because otherwise I would have stayed behind to make wardrobe changes that weren’t truly necessary at that moment. So next time you want to stay focused and on a budget, drag a guy pal shopping.
P.S- This has been a long time coming. I will compile a list of places dudes can get good stuff and their accompanying prices, much like this past post which was for ladies’ clothes. My specialty is second hand things so don’t expect a list of stuff from Woolworths or Mr.Price. Sorry 🙂