The yuletide season is here to stay and the air is filled with festive mood. Lo! It’s time to rejoice and time to shop. The market is flooded with new clothes for the cold season and Christmas celebrations. And, all roads lead to the delightful flea markets for shoppers in Manipur.
For those shoppers who prefer the branded wears, the Thangmeiband DM College road leads to all the branded stores. But, for a wider and more affordable range of quality goods, a flea market has sprung up recently at Dinku road and 72 makeshift garment shops are doing brisk business and catering to a clientele commuting along the road and those in the periphery. The shops conduct brisk business throughout the day.
The barbed-wire border fencing along the Nagaram river now wears a festive look with display of all kinds of clothes in all kinds of colours. People from all walks of life throng to try on jackets, pull-overs, jeans, sportswear, overcoats, shoes, gloves, you name it. Tough bargains and haggling over the price of the item go on. A good quality jacket costs Rs 400/ 500, and one can buy a North Face windcheater for as less as Rs 300.
“The Christmas season is here and we plan to go to our village in the hills, we shop for ourselves and for our family members,” one young shopper from Nagaram, Victoria, said when asked why she shops here?
“We get a good bargain and there is a lot of variety to choose from, one doesn’t get these designs from other conventional garment shops. It’s just not about the low pricing but about the variety and quality one can pick up, it’s enjoyable therapy for a shopper,” she added.
The shops sell used goods procured from Asian countries like Korea, China , Thailand, etc. The used good are brought in from Myanmar in bales and transported to Imphal warehouses. The price of the bales vary as per the content; one bale of leather goods may cost to Rs 40,000 whereas a bale of woollen sweaters may cost Rs 8,000. The flea market is manned by traders belonging to various communities in the valley.
Arshad Khan, a shopkeeper in the flea market, said that the sale varies according to the goods you sell and on luck. “One can get good business if the bale opened contains a good variety of quality wear, and if the goods are of poor quality, we just manage to break even with the price we paid for the bale,” he said, adding that one can sell to an average of Rs 5000 to Rs 10,000 on a good day in this holiday season.
The flea market is also a boon for those belonging to the lesser income group as the winter season is getting harsher with climate change affecting Manipur. Holding a thick furred olive green jacket, Bahadur, a farmer from Kamjong district said, “This jacket I am haggling for Rs 400, the shopkeeper wants Rs 450 as his best offer. This would keep me warm and last for a long time,” he said while taking glances at the jacket he held up as if checking for defects.
This flea market opens from morning till evening and certainly reverberates the December Christmas shopping mood. The writer also purchased a deep blue Levis jeans for Rs 500!
By Paojel Chaoba | Imphal