By Farai Dauramanzi
The number of street shoe sellers who sale home-made shoes and sandals have been on an increase in Harare over the past few months.
Home-made shoe sellers have now mushroomed on most streets in town and this has been attributed to an increase in demand of the products as many struggle to buy leather shoes in shops due to the current economic hardships.
The home-made shoes and sandals are being manufactured in different parts of the City and they include different cuts of formal leather shoes which comprise of low and high cuts as well as sandals for both men and women. The traders also deal in school shoes.
At average a pair of home-made formal shoes costs between $15 and $30 while sandals for men range from $5 to $10 whilst those for women are sold at an average of $5. Terrence Madhora (29) from Chitungwiza said that he resorted to buying the home-made formal shoes on the streets due to the shoes’ long life and reasonable price.
“I now prefer the home-made shoes because they are more durable as compared to the ones found in shops. The shoes are made from real leather yet in shops you get zhingaz (street name for cheap products) at a much higher price,” said Madhora.
The price of the home-made shoes found on the streets is also open to negotiation. One buyer who was found buying the home-made shoes at the corner of Leopold Takawira and Nelson Mandela said that he prefers the shoes because of their price.
“I have since resorted to buying these shoes (home-made) for me and my children because they are cheaper, I cannot afford real leather shoes found in shops that cost not less than $50. Most shops are now selling fake leather shoes, so this is a better option for me as I am guaranteed of a shoe that is durable,” said the customer who refused to be named.
On average, formal leather shoes for men cost between $50 and $100 in shops while men’s sandals cost between $10 and $20. One home-made shoe trader at Karigamombe Centre told 263Chat that the shoes have now become popular with people from all social classes due to their favourable pricing.
“Many people in Harare are now buying our shoes because they are cheap and strong despite the fact that they are of a lower quality as compared to those found in shops. Even the affluent in society are now buying home-made shoes. Here I deal with people from all walks of life including bankers, civil servants, managers, politicians and lawyers,” said the street shoe trader identified as Thomas.
Thomas revealed that he sells an average of two pairs of shoes per day which enables him to take care of his wife and kid, “In the past I used to sale at least 10 pairs of shoes per day at a much higher price but, the market is now flooded and it is now common to fail to make even a single sale the whole day.”
The sector is also proving to be a source of employment for many. One informal shoe manufacturer in Siyaso said that he now employs 10 people to manufacture and sell the shoes.
“I entered into the shoe manufacturing trade after the closure of the shoe manufacturing company I used to work for. I have since managed to buy some equipment and I am now employing four people who manufacture and six others who sell the shoes and sandals in town,” explained the shoe manufacturer.
The shoe manufacturer explained that the local shoe market is largely dominated by foreign companies and appealed for assistance from government to help the sector grow.
“We have realised that the market has accepted our shoes, I think it is now left to the government to help home-based shoe manufacturers to grow. There are a lot of industries that are not being utilized in the industrial areas and I think government can organise some of the space to accommodate us,” added the informal shoe manufacturer.