Market day for me was not really what I expected because any type of bargaining I have ever done has been in china town in NYC. This was completely different because we were emerging ourselves in the South African culture through this assignment.
Green Market Square was the first market that we went to. I found some jewelry boxes that I liked so I decided to talk to the woman who was running her section named Alice. She said that she is originally from Kenya and misses it a lot but also likes Cape Town. She said that there was no name for her store but she mostly sold wooden goods. I thought Alice was inspiring because she said she has faith that her business will grow one day and that she can provide better for her two children. She said that she only sells her goods there but that the goods were from all over Africa, especially Kenya. Every month she pays 400 rand but ssees aid she can pay it during the summer time but during winter it gets harder because of the rain. Alice was also honest and said she didn’t make any of them herself but also mentioned that barely anyone in that market did, which I was surprised about.
The next person I spoke to was Dani from the Blue Shed who sells handmade guitars out of gas cans and other guitar parts. His store section is called Township Music that he started with three other people. He was the most interesting person I spoke to thus far.
At first I was asking him questions and he told me that he didn’t want to talk to me because he was in a really bad mood from a customer that had given him credit cards to buy one and it never went through. Finally he warmed up to me after a little while and I was able to actually speak to him on a more personal level. He said he is Zulu and from the Kzeden province and lived is the Western Cape. He said that he has two little boys that live with him and his wife lives in Johannesburg to work as a store manager and only visits them a couple times a year. He likes the long distance relationship because it lets them both focus on work and they appreciate each other more when they see each other finally, which I thought was amazing. He said that his section is more than 5,000 rand but wouldn’t give me an exact number.
Dani said that he gets the materials from South Africa and imports from South Korea some materials because it is cheaper. He said that they can make up to ten guitars a day or more depending on how much money they would make.
He said his biggest pet peeve is when people don’t believe that they are actually real guitars. When I asked him if he did well, he said that he does because there isn’t much competition due to his craft being so unique. He said that people come to the market just for his stuff and his dream would be to have his own store with things just made in South Africa that are as unique as his guitars. At the end of our conversation he said that I made his day so much better and he thanked me, which meant so much that just by asking him a few questions made him feel better!
In the Red Shed, I spoke to a man named Wondwosen from Ethiopia and his store name is Out of Ethiopia. All of the beading and jewelry in the store him and his family did and he came to South Africa for business because his family has been there doing their business and he took over four years ago. His other goods like some sculptures were made in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa. He said he pays 11,000 rand a month for his spot in the market but it gets more difficult during the winter and there is more business during their summer.