By Farai Dauramanzi
Some vendors in Harare have now adopted the use of loudspeakers in order to outclass fellow vendors in touting for their various wares.
A loudspeaker is a device that converts an electrical audio signal into a corresponding sound and is mainly used to reach out to a larger audience. However, vendors in Harare seem to have found better use for them in their quest to reach out to as many potential customers as possible.
The practice of using loudspeakers to tout for wares was reportedly introduced in Harare by sim-card vendors that operate from cars who are mostly visible along Robert Mugabe way near the Eastgate Mall. However, the loudspeaker has since been adopted by some pavement and roadside vendors as well.
Adison Muswe (27) who sells insecticides on the pavement along Robert Mugabe way said that his vending work became easier for him after he purchased a loudspeaker.
“I used to shout out the whole day until my throat got dry but, now I just record a catchy clip to market my products which will play throughout the day. I can now manage to relax while waiting for customers,” explained Muswe.
Muswe said that he was motivated to invest in the loudspeaker in an effort to outclass his compatriots, “I was not attracting many customers so I thought I was not touting enough.”
Dorothy Mutema (38) who vends along Jason Moyo Avenue concurred with Muswe and said that touting increases one’s chances of making better sales.
“The problem is that customers do not seem to notice you if you do not tout. I believe this new phenomenon of using loudspeakers is an improvement in our vending business,” said Mutema.
Nonetheless, vendors who use loudspeakers have been accused by some people of causing noise pollution an offence that attracts a fine under the City’s by-laws. Priscilla Dube (24) from Avondale complained of the unnecessary noise that is caused by loudspeakers in the CBD.
“I find the loudspeakers very irritating and I hope council can do something about the noise. They should also deal with those CD sellers who use P.A systems to market their music,” complained Dube.
However, Brandon Butau (45) a vendor who operates along Charter Road and uses a loudspeaker to tout defended the practice saying that the issue of noise pollution did not appeal to him since he will already be committing another offense of vending at an undesignated site.
“I am not worried about being arrested for noise pollution because by just vending I am already committing an offense with or without a loudspeaker. When council officials catch us they confiscate all our wares including the loudspeakers but, that does not deter us from using loudspeakers because they increase one’s visibility which results in more sales,” said Butau.
Due to enormous competition that now characterises street hustling in Harare, many hustlers have resorted to touting as well as other methods such as hard selling tactics to withstand competition. It is now common knowledge that one has to bear with the hundreds of offers when passing through some parts of town such as Gulf Mall, Copacabana, Eastgate and Ximex Mall.
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