Clockwise from top: Old shoes on display on Railway Road in Saddar, jackets and sweaters being sold on stalls while used electronics, crockery and toys are displayed at a shop on Jamia Masjid Road in Rawalpindi. — Photos by Mohammad Asim
Clockwise from top: Old shoes on display on Railway Road in Saddar, jackets and sweaters being sold on stalls while used electronics, crockery and toys are displayed at a shop on Jamia Masjid Road in Rawalpindi. — Photos by Mohammad Asim

RAWALPINDI: The aptly named Coat Wali Gali in Narankari Bazaar is one of several pre-partition secondhand markets in Rawalpindi citizens are turning to for winter wear because of rising inflation and falling purchasing power.

These markets are something of an institution in the garrison city. Rawalpindi’s landa bazaars are known for their secondhand stalls and go-downs, and enterprising vendors have even set up small stalls selling hand-me-down clothes on pavements in the city and cantonment areas.

Although they are known for selling secondhand clothing, these markets also offer homeware items, toys and even electronics.

Malik Nadeem, a shopkeeper in Raja Bazaar, told Dawn that they buy secondhand clothes, utensils and toys in bulk from distributors in Karachi.

“These items sell like hot cakes at cheap prices,” he added.

In the summer, vendors buy t-shirts, pyjamas, toys and decorative items, and in the winter, coats, jackets, undergarments and daily-use household items, he added.

Some markets even sell curtains, bedding, rugs and quilts and blankets.

Mohammad Siddique, a trader in Saddar near the Railways pedestrian bridge, said that shoes for infants, children and adults are also available secondhand. He said these shops are a blessing for the salaried and middle class, but even designers visit to find something new.

“Most of the items come in bulk, and then we separate them,” he explained.

Some of the knitwear is also bought by women who use the scrap wool to make other items and sell them locally.

Mohammad Tanveer, a blanket maker in Naya Mohallah, said: “We use the wool from old sweaters that people have provided to make blankets and rugs.”

“My father began this business, and he used to bring secondhand clothing that came from European countries in bulk,” Mohammad Ashfaq, the owner of a shop at the landa bazaar on Jamia Masjid Road, said.

Although these secondhand markets have always existed in the city, they are seeing increasing traffic from citizens who feel that the rise in prices has taken many commodities that they found affordable as recently as last year out of reach. And instead of buying cheap winter wear from China, they said they would prefer to buy older clothing from European countries.

“The quality of products from Europe used to be better, but now secondhand Korean and Chinese clothing is also sold at landa bazaars,” Shahid Mirza, a customer in Saddar, said.

Muzafar Raja, who works at a private company, said that inflation had forced people to work two jobs and they can not afford to spend money on new clothes, adding that the landa bazaar “is a blessing for us”.

Another customer, Nusrat Ahmed, who works at a school, said she was at the market to buy wool sweaters and jackets for her children.

But some customers complained that even the landa bazaar was more expensive than last year.

“The prices of used clothing is too high compared to last year. I bought a pair of trousers for Rs200, and now the same pair is being sold for Rs400,” Asghar Ali said at the landa bazaar on Railway Road.

But Mohammad Akram said the landa bazaar was a blessing for the middle class, with affordably priced garments for the average citizen who can barely manage their household budget.

“Last year, I bought a new jacket from here for Rs400 that would have cost me at least Rs2,400 in the market,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2019