Nigerian Second-Hand (Okrika) Clothes Market

‘Okrika’ dealers say rush for pants, bras, others propels business

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

As an essentially consumer economy beaming with all manner of imported though fairly used products, Nigerian dealers and buyers of used clothes, popularly known as “Okrika” Tuesday attributed durability of the clothes, especially ladies’ underwear, to the increasing boom in their business.

News Agency of Nigeria reports those at the various selling points in Lagos State said that “no new pant, girdle, tight, bra, boxer-shot, singlet”, among others, that could be compared to the used ones in the markeplace.

Report says the dealers maintain that the ‘Okrika’ business has come to stay because of the patronage from most Nigerian consumers.

Mr. Uchechukwu Ndukwe, a bra dealer at Gatankowa market in Abule-Egba area of Lagos, said in spite of the Federal Government ban on used clothes in the country, used clothes business has remained lucrative.

Mr. Ndukwe said: “I must be honest with you that in spite of the challenge of bringing the clothes into the country, a dealer is made when he or she opens a bale packed with almost new stuff¸ especially when they are ladies’ underwear.

“This stuff is known in the business as “First Grade”, and they are the toast of most well-to-do in the society.

“Some of them deposit money in advance for such stuff.”

He stated that Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the week are days the bales are usually opened for consumers to make their choices.

Innocent Uyi, in Arena Shopping Complex, Oshodi, in Lagos State, also said he initially sold both new and used clothes, but later discontinued selling new ones because customers preferred the ‘Okrika’ stuff because it was more durable.

Some petty traders in the business, especially those from outside Lagos, deposit money in advance for “First Grade pants, bras, and others to resell.”

“Most high-class customers prefer designer wears such as Next, Prada, Marks and Spencer and others.

“The demand for Okrika pants and girdle is very encouraging, and my customers get value for their money.

“First Grade designer pant sells from N800 per pant, while bra costs N1,300 and above; but it is only those that know the worth that go for them.

“The clothes are no longer for the poor only, but also for those you think will not visit the market for such items.

“Everyone has something to take home with as little as N100,” Uyi said.

A customer, Precilia Briggs, told NAN at the Gatankowa market that she prefers the pants, and would not feel ashamed of buying them in the market.

Briggs related that she no longer goes for new bras and pants because they do not stand the test of time.

“As you can see, I picked the underwear because I am sure of getting good quality here which new ones cannot give me, and I don’t mind the price.

“Although the grade determines the price, N5,000 can give you three good pants and two bras,” she said.

In terms of hygiene of the ‘Okrika’ stuff, she noted that the items were soaked and washed with disinfectant to prevent one from contracting diseases.

Mrs. Ebele Uzochukwu, a middle-aged woman, said because of her large breasts, it had become difficult to get new quality bras with little money.

According to Uzochukwu, with as little as N1,000, one can get a used bra that can stand the test of time.

“Due to my big breasts, I bought new bras almost every month because they slack on time.

“But for the used bras, the strap and cup are stronger and pack my breasts better,” she said.

Nevertheless, a girl who simply gave her name as Faith, an undergraduate, said she would never use ‘Okrika’ underwear, as one could get infected through them.

Faith stated that she patronises new underwear, and whenever they wear out, she replaced them as it is advisable to change underwear regularly.

“I believe that used clothes are condemned items and no longer good for use,” she said.

Meanwhile, a general medical practitioner has advised those who patronise all brands of used items, particularly underwear to wash them thoroughly with disinfectant.

Proper washing would get rid of bacteria, as such items should be exposed to the Sun very well before use, she said.

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