Second-hand clothing dealers are bracing themselves to keep their market share from international clothing retailers like Mrp (formerly Mr. Price)and other international brands. Though they find the prices of international clothing retailers threatening, they think they can give  international retailers a run for their money.

“Whatever they [customers] buy here is always unique unlike Mrp, people hate to see others wearing what they have,” Sister Joyce, one of the second cloths vendors at Kantomanto, who specializes in women apparel explains why.

Large international retailers like Woolworths, Edgars, Jet, Truworths, Identity, the Foschini Group and Mango have entered the Ghanaian market in the last few years. Others like Sunglass Hut, Debenhams and Pick n Pay have made public their intention to also enter the Ghanaian market.

Two factors that have aided the entry of large international retailers are  the large but yet highly unsaturated Ghanaian middle class and the rapid development of  A-grade shopping centres in Accra and Kumasi. For instance, 4 of the 5 malls of AttAfrica Limited’s portfolio are in Accra and Kumasi, the other is in Lusaka, Zambia. Attafrica is the property investment company that developed the West Hills and Achimota malls.

Among the international clothing retailers, Mrp may probably be the major threat to second hand clothing dealers because of price.  While a pair of second hand trousers (male) ranges from GH¢20 to GH¢50 at Kantomanto, a similar pair ranges from GH¢20 to GH¢90 at Mrp. A pair of second-hand jeans (male) ranges from GH¢10 to GH¢50 at Kantomanto, while a new pair retails between GH¢20 and GH¢85 at Mrp. On the other hand, whilst a second hand lady skirt sells up to GH¢30 at Kantomanto, Mrp retails it between GH¢20 to GH¢60.

Although sales have been low this season most second-hand traders attribute it to the general economic conditions of the country and not international clothing retailers chewing away their market share. Nevertheless, they believe competition from the international retailers is going to kick in in the long term.

So how are the Kantomanto traders going to compete?

Anthony Eshun specialises in selling Jeans and Khaki trousers and has been in the second-hand clothing business for 10 years. Apart from improving his sourcing of his merchandize and the looks of his stall, he speaks about improving his customer care.

“A satisfied customer is always an advert for the business; he or she will tell friends about the experience and will surely bring them to my shop,” Eshun said.

Aside from customer care, Kantomanto says his trump card is price and the customer’s ability to bargain with him.

“I will reduce my price by bargaining with the customer. I know prices in stores are always fixed unless getting to Christmas before they can bring prices down. I don’t care even if I make little profit or break even when the prices are reduced, once I am getting the customers I will be okay,” said  Hayford Amoah another vendor at Kantomanto.

“I can bring my price down as low as GH¢1 to make it accessible to every individual which will bring more customers to my shop instead of Mr Price,” said Millicent Frimpong another retailer of second-hand clothing.