Thrift Shopping at Gichagi Market

Posted on Posted in Articles, Nairobi Experiences, ShopaholicAroundTown

Every time I say I come from Gachie, people (except those from Gachie) assume that I pack a huge suitcase and take a bus each time I go there. It’s a freaking twenty minute drive from town guys!

Anyway, onto the market that serves most Gachie people : Gichagi Market.

The name “Gichagi” I was told, literally translates to “rural area” as in ushagoo. And I realize this doesn’t help my case above so move on swiftly.

Now like all rural markets I know, Sunday is the market day and Gichagi market comes alive with all kinds of people; from kids that have 5 shillings to spend, to teens coming to meet forbidden boyfriends under the guise of going to the market, to elderly men sitting in the surrounding butcheries taking supu ya marondo. Especially as from around 2pm, throngs of people head one way and that’s towards the market.

You know that procession in Rango, where the villagers go to the water tank? That’s kind of how the road from Kihara to Gichagi looks like on market day.  😀

Based on a rectangular piece of land, Gichagi market is by all means a small market. Two things however are special about this market; thrift shopping and the fact that it’s full of stylish, sometimes strange, vintage and bohemian items.

I mean, Gachie itself is an area full of vintage cars, the likes with number plates KXU; it’s only fair that you’d find unique accessories from its marketplace right?

The following are 5 amazing things you can never go wrong searching for at Gichagi Market:

1- Sun hats
This is the one place I get my sun hats and in no other market have I found such good ones at the ridiculous prices Gichagi sells them . Ruiru Market arguably has good hats but they start from 50 shillings. Ngara as well has them and price them from 300 shillings. Of course the difference is that in Ngara, they’re all cleaned up and arranged in a coherent manner that doesn’t make you want to go crazy.

However, going through countless hats to find multiple gems is a small price to pay for Gichagi hats that cost 10 shillings. The guy that sells them brings most sunhats during the hot weather. On other days it’s baseball hats that make up the bulk of his goods- and in cold weather, its marvins and the like.

2. Boots
I’m generally attracted to strange shoes and when it’s normal ones I favor those with a little somewhat weird embellishment that stands out. Gichagi has many of these types of boots  and they sell at 200 shillings.

However, only two guys have them so while that’s a thumbs down on quantity, their quality is amazing.

In a market where one can spend less than 500 shillings and take home a bag full of good clothes; and with competition for the small number of buyers, boot sellers in Gichagi have to stay within the range of 200-300, even for boots you’d buy at 1000 elsewhere. I have never met a shoe seller selling at 500. Not even 400 shillings.

And if you’re lucky, you get boots and other funky shoes  for less than 100 bob.

3. Denim items

Generally, when shopping for mtumba, the more well-arranged the goods are, the more expensive they’re bound to cost. In Gichagi however, jeans well arranged, go for prices of between 100- 600 shillings- and there is always room for negotiation.

Other denim items are found on mounds of clothes you have to go through but for compensation, you pay 50 shillings or less for whatever you find.

There’s a guy that sells stylish denim coats at only 30 shillings and another whose mounds of diverse denim items cost 20, 30, 40 or 50 shillings depending on his mood that day. (The man actually told me that when I complained that he raises his prices week after week. He added that I should visit the Sunday after that and promised to sell at 20 shillings.:-D)

4. Sweaters and coats
Gachie is usually cold and being near places like Kikuyu which always seems to be cold all year round, warm clothes are always up for sale at the market, no matter the season. Funny thing is that during the hot season, warm clothes cost more than they do during the cold season. You’d think that when the weather demands heavy coats, the sellers would dangle the goods higher! Sweater tops cost 30-50 shillings and hoodies from 50-200. Occasionally there’s a woman that brings amazing trench coats and sells them at 300 shillings, but the trouble is timing her.

5. Funky Tops
In Gichagi, it seems people got past the notion that expensive equals quality. And for this reason, you rarely find torn clothes even when they’re extremely cheap; because who’s going to waste time going through your murk when another seller has the good stuff going for the same price; perhaps even cheaper?

Tops in Gichagi feature simple everyday shirts, funky vests and famous chiffon tops as those from Ngara. They cost between 10- 50 shillings. Anyone selling above tops above this price in Gichagi Market just isn’t serious.


There is this Tanzanian guy that I must mention because no matter how broke one is while going to the market, you just just must pass by his goods and see what you can promote him with. He has a huge collection of denim hot pants, hats of different kinds and beautiful scarves all selling at one price. Usually its 5 shillings- and when he goes high, they cost 20 shillings.

So while Gichagi market may not be a huge place with hundreds of stalls to visit, for thrift shoppers with a funky style to rock and only pennies to spend, it is one gem of a market because you’ll always find something unique to add to your wardrobe.



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