Wednesday, 15 June 2016

How to go to Kantamanto or how to go thrift shopping or how to shop at the bend down boutique.

This is a continuation sort of my previous post.
Those who know me personally always ask me where I get most of my clothing from. People can never believe the amazing things I find at second hand clothing stalls and they want to know how they can do it too. These tips have been tested in Accra, Kumasi, Belle Marché in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire and in Abuja, Nigeria. Weep no more as here are my tried and tested tips!

1. Dedicate a day to thrift shopping:  
The second hand clothing stalls in Kantamanto in Accra central tend to be located close to one another. Be prepared to go from stall to stall bargain hunting for items that catch your eye. Be prepared as all sorts of offerings are on display; dresses, tops, bottoms, bags, shoes and so on.

2. Know the days fresh bales are opened:
This is a pro tip and its Tuesdays and Saturdays or so. I stand to be corrected if I'm wrong. However I've gotten great bargains on other days of the week that I've gone "foss" shopping.

3. Research the trends:
There is so much to choose from from the massive market place that is Kantamanto, so it helps to know what you're looking for. In order to know what you're looking for you need to do your homework. Look through magazines and fashion blogs to get an idea of what the trends are and try to recreate those looks when you go to Kantamanto. I am always amazed that I can go there with something specific in mind and I will usually find it! 

4. Dress for success: 
This is something I must reiterate as it is important to try on anything you purchase there. Ideally thrifting should be done with a friend so you can edit each other's choices. If the seller refuses to let you try on stuff, unless you're really certain as to the fit, please move on and don't buy the item. There are no dressing rooms there so it is imperative that you wear something form fitting like leggings and a tank top so you can try clothes on over your clothes. 

5. Think outside the Kantamanto box:
 This is so necessary guys. When you look at an item you have to visualize it outside of the immediate surroundings. Clothing tends to look drab and dirty at Kantamanto. What you must do is to picture it in your home, or picture what you might wear with it, or where you could wear it, and then you would start to see things differently. 

6. Be creative: 
Think of repurposing. For example, I bought a damaged, extremely outdated blouse because it had the most gorgeous buttons, which I then took off and attached elsewhere. Another time I bought necklaces that had broken links and some damage and had my tailor use them to upgrade clothes I had.

7. Be patient: 
There are many treasures to uncover at Kantamanto, but sometimes you have to go through a lot of stuff you don't want in order to find the one item you do want. Take your time and view your shopping as an adventure, not just a quick stop. 

8. Buy only what you love: 
Sometimes it is hard not to be like a kid in a candy store while thrifting. Why buy one top for 10gh when you can buy 10 for the same 10gh? R But chances are you don't really need 10 new tops, nor do you LOVE all 10 of the tops. Be realistic about what you will really wear and don't buy it if you don't love it. Thrift shopping is cheap but if you buy a lot of items that you never wear you can waste quite a bit of money over time. 

9. Inspect before you buy: 
Sometimes there is a reason certain items are at the thrift store. Clothing items might have a hole in them or a stain or they might just fit in a funny way. This is not always a reason NOT to buy something because sometimes these things can be fixed - you will have to judge that for yourself.

10. Bargain:
Because a seller says a skirt is 15gh and you think it's so cheap because you bought a skirt the week before in a boutique for 60gh, doesn't mean you should just exclaim excitedly " that's so cheap " and give your money over without haggling. Wrong move as you raise prices for the rest of us. Always bargain.

11. Clean out your closet before thrifting: 
Clean out your closet regularly and either sell the stuff you no longer have use for or give it out. Especially if the items are in good shape you should be able to sell online on or or, etc.

12. Be alert for pickpockets:
Either keep valuables like phones at home or if you do carry it along with your money, then be mindful of your surroundings and the location of those valuables. Someone seems to be hovering around you too much for comfort, change your route. Using cross body bags while shopping is another plus.
Let me know in the comments about any special tips you have for thrift shopping.