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Thrift Culture in Nigeria: Tips for the BEST Shopping

Popularly known as “Okrika” or “bend down select”, thrift is basically pre-owned or second-hand clothing items, shipped down to Nigeria from any foreign country. The thrift culture in Nigeria is most often looked down upon. But in some cases, these clothing items have not been previously worn as they come with tags. When they get here, people buy them, wash and rock them as new. The name “bend down select” came as a result of how the clothes are being picked by the buyers. The huge heap of clothes is usually poured on the bare floor or on polythene so it doesn’t get stained by dust and the buyers bend to select their preferred items.

Thrift culture in Nigeria

Growing up, there is this sentiment attached to thrift shopping as it was seen as something done by people of the lower class. Sadly, such sentiment remains today, which is why people would hardly tell you the fine top you just complimented was thrifted.
I started thrifting right from my University days when my friends and I will go to a market in London street in Ile-Ife to shop. Best believe that our outfits were always complimented by our classmates and when we got to the hostel, we would laugh because these outfits cost from 100 naira.

Nigerian Thrift Culture is in Vogue

On the brighter side, thrift shopping is getting recognized and more in vogue nowadays mainly because of the high cost of living in Nigeria now and the uniqueness of these clothes. Unique in the sense that thrifted pieces hardly come in multiples thereby reducing the chances of seeing your cloth on numerous people.

This recognition has brought about an increase in the number of people selling thrifted clothes on social media. Online thrifted pieces however do not come cheap.

Living in Nigeria now is not for the weak because of the inflation in prices of everything so getting new clothes will definitely cost a fortune and this is why people go for second-hand clothes because it is relatively affordable and if you are lucky, you can find top foreign designer tops, shoes, and other items for cheap. Want to go thrift shopping?

Understanding Thrift Culture in Nigeria Will Make Your Thrift Shopping Experience FUN

1. Know how to select items according to thrift culture in Nigeria

Thrift shopping goes beyond going to the market to buy thrifted items. If care is not taken, you will end up with rags and that means your money is wasted.

If you are new to thrift shopping, be sure to go with someone that knows more than you, and in a situation where you can’t find anyone to go with, open your eyes and search well. Some of these thrift items (especially the unbelievably cheap ones) are either already torn, buttons missing, or have one thing or the other wrong with them and the seller needs to sell
them off. If you do not look well, you might end up with these types of clothes.

2. Shop in the right area of Nigeria

For instance, I stay in Ibadan, Nigeria and the biggest thrift market here is the Dugbe market. There are other thrift markets but I prefer going to Dugbe because of the wide range of sellers and products. There you get shoes, bags, clothes (adult and baby), hair, and kitchen utensils all thrifted. Due to the wide range of sellers and items, you tend to get quality goods at an
affordable price.

3. Choose your style being thrift shopping

To make the most of thrift shopping, you need to consider your style. If you are someone that buys clothes because they are beautiful and attractive without keeping your personal style in mind, you will end up looking tacky with your outfit. So when next you go thrift shopping, consider your style and choose appropriate clothes.

4. Avoid Boutiques in a thrift market

When you go thrift shopping, you might be tempted to want to patronize the boutiques or fancy shops in the market. DON’T! Except you have so much money and you are willing to pay 3x the original amount. Most of these shops buy from roadside thrift sellers, wash and iron them then display them in their show glasses. And they come at you saying it is first-grade okrika. Save yourself the stress and wasteful spending because their exorbitant prices defeat the idea
behind thrifting.

5. Don’t buy on impulse when shopping thrift culture in Nigeria

If you are new to thrifting, you will be excited to know that chiffon tops cost as low as 200 naira. This might want to make you fill a Ghana-must-go bag with clothes. We all know second-hand chiffon tops rarely look nice so you have to consider that. And when they do, they look tired and worn out after a couple of wears and you don’t want to fill your wardrobe with faded clothes. Invest in cotton, leather, and linen fabrics as these tend to hold shape and last over a long time.

6. Have a seller’s contact information to get leads

This is my secret as someone that once sold thrifted clothes. Whether you are planning on starting a thrift business or you are an end user, it is important that you have the phone number of a seller (if not multiple sellers). This will enable you to have first-hand information on when a new bale will be opened, thereby giving you access to select good pieces before it turns to clearance.
When you are first to select, the clothes might be a bit more expensive than what you are used to but you will rest assured that you are getting quality items.

Final Thoughts on Thrift Culture in Nigeria

Thrift culture in Nigeria has a major role in Nigerian society. The process of “finding fashionable clothing items at a discounted price” has its own culture. Follow the tips listed above to have a better experience navigating thrift culture in Nigeria.

Happy shopping!

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Ayomide Babalola

Ayomide Babalola is a graduate of English Language, Obafemi Awolowo University. She is a passionate writer and loves to write about anything.