The opening of the Mdantsane City Mall some 9 years ago at NU 6, introduced a new shopping experience for families in this sprawling township that lacked such up-market amenities. Again the newly built mall at Fort Jackson also added convenient shopping for the local community who would otherwise have to travel far, something that has changed the face of the township for the better.
The downside is that with the challenging economic times and astronomical rental prices, running a business in such a conducive environment is not affordable for many local aspirant businessmen.
Be that as it may, this has not deterred many hawkers of different nationalities and background from using the opportunity presented by the malls of attracting crowds of customers to their benefit.
Martin Izaarts is a lone white meat vendor who has identified the location next to the mall as the safest and more profitable area to sell his meat.
“When I first came here at NU6, I wanted to rent a space inside the mall but could not afford to, I then realised that selling next to the entrance will be good for my business because there is a lot of cars and people passing by. I also like the location because I feel safer here, taxi operators look after me and they even warn me to stay away if there is going to be a protest in the area,” he said.
Zukiswa Qaba echoed the same sentiments and stated her unhappiness about her inability to afford rent inside the mall, something that exposes her to daily situations that are not conducive to run a business.
“The availability of this mall here is bitter sweet because it is convenient for the community to come and buy, but most of us who want to be tenants are disadvantaged. We resorted to selling outside here but that poses a risk to us, for safety we look after each other as hawkers and that also mean you have to knock off early before the sun goes down so that you do not get robbed. Ever since I started selling clothes here in 2012 business has been good.”
Xabiso Lomani has been selling cigarettes at the Fort Jackson mall since it opened its doors about 3 years ago, and has been able to provide for himself and his family.
“Before I came here I was selling cigarettes at the Total garage not far away from here but I realised I could get more customers if I changed location and sell here. Since coming here business has been good and I am able to make a profit and look after my family,” he said.
He said that even management did not have a problem with him selling at the mall and that his customer base is growing daily because people know him now by now.