Muddy is one way to describe Kawangware market at this time of the year- but then again, what market isn’t? Kawangware market serves the close environs of Satellite, Dagoretti and Kawangware (obviously) Admittedly it is not a big market at all- and is more a center of fresh and very affordable vegetables than it is for clothes, shoes and other accessories.
Don’t get me wrong, the market does have the above three things too- just not on a large scale as compared to markets like Gikomba and Ngara. Of all markets I have come across however, I declare it my go-to market for shoes.
Kawangware definitely has the most insanely affordable second hand shoes I have ever come across. Sometime back, I was out looking for a comfortable ballet flat- the kind that would be stylish, unique and one I could wear anytime with anything and still look fabulous. My sister had shown me a pair of shoes she had purchased at 70 shillings and since they were a good pair, I decided to give the market a shot. I had 200 shillings to spare and my guess was, that I could get a good shoe for about 100 shillings (or 70 if I was lucky like my sister).
And guess my shock when I stumbled upon shoes – GOOD shoes- costing 30 – 50 shillings! I know I claim to be open minded to cheap items until their flaws are proven, but right then, I was pretty sure those shoes must be torn, damaged in a bad way or that they were made with some cheap material. But no.
I got a pair of open toe flats, scrutinized every inch of them, and actually found the shoes to be authentic leather! Finding another heel (which I hadn’t planned for but for 30 shillings, I could definitely afford to get extravagant!) I sought flaws, found none and I was pretty convinced the guy was super-drunk to be selling such shoes at that price. And he actually was drunk; but it’s not like he didn’t know what price he was quoting because he took money and returned the change just fine. His shoes were all sold to the many bent over females in just a matter of minutes and I was all smiles all the way home. (Yeah. Some of us get shoe-happy big time! They should come up with the term “shoe-gasm”)
Any way if you are willing to spend on a good pair of boots, Kawangware also has really good boots- much like the ones in Ngara and they go for 200- 300 shillings. There are many other tit bits clothes : tops costing 10 shillings, lovely mats starting from 100 shillings and a bit of duvets and other bedding. (Not the best place to shop for these because they are on the higher side as compared to Gikomba and Toi markets.)
Also, unlike Gikomba whose thrifting peak time is very early in the morning, the best time to shop in Kawangware is late in the evening- from around 4pm till 6. “Bei ya jioni” is a slogan you should totally take advantage of and live by when thrift shopping.
P.S. – There is the obvious concern of security in terms of pick pocketing so when choosing items, one is better off holding onto and watching their valuables very closely.