A retailer of second-hand clothing at the Serrekunda Market, Muhammed Tunkara of late has been recording low sale and profits, but he believes the importers are to blame for his financial shortfall.
However, an importer has since denied any wrong doing.
Speaking to this reporter on Monday, Mr. Tunkara, a native of Baddibou Marong Kunda alleges that importers of used-clothing do condition them to buying unwanted goods.
“I have been in this business for 30 years now, but I can tell you that the importers have damaged the business as at now,” he said.
According to him, through the business, he was able to marry a wife, bought a compound and maintain his family’s livelihood. However, he argued that in recently, importers have been conditioning them to buy unwanted goods and giving them “unstable prices” and they (the retailers) find it very difficult to make high gains.
He revealed that the importers do keep the better quality clothes for traders from neighbouring countries; Senegal, Mali, and Guinea Bissau because these people pay high prices and in foreign currencies.
“And when we, the retailers complain, the importers also complain of the high exchange rates of foreign currencies like the Euro and the CFA. We are left with no other option but to take the low quality products to sell, knowing fully that our families are entirely depending on us,” Mr. Tunkara said.
Following more than two months of an unofficial border blockade imposed by the Senegalese Transport Union, Mr. Tunkara disclosed that the importers were compelled to put out quality products to the local market, since their clients from the neighbouring countries were affected.
He also lamented that buyers are in most cases reluctant to pay for the right prices of their products.
Mr. Davy Wymeersch, a Belgian specializing in the importation of used-clothing said he has been in this business over the past six years and have been importing second-hand clothing to Guinea Bissau, Mali, Guinea Conakry, Senegal and The Gambia respectively.
However, he denied the allegations that they (importers) are in fact helping to impoverish local retailers. “Even in Europe, the clothes are mixed (good or bad quality) in bales and sold to us.
He said: “I did not see any reason why retailers should complain, we only sell the bales to them as it was imported. We cannot select the best and sell to them and be left the others there.”
He explained that if he sells to retailers as they desire, and Europe is not looking at their (importers) interest, at the end of the day, they would not be able to import anymore because they will make no profits.
Mr. Davy also denied being selective in his business dealings or selling the best clothing to neighbour traders across the borders of The Gambia.Source - The Voice