On a typical Tuesday morning in Addis Ababa, residents went about their daily routines amidst the usual bustling traffic filling the city’s roads. In the Asko Chereta neighborhood near Atana Tera, just 100 meters from the main road, a vibrant clothing trade hummed with activity. Traders set up stalls while customers flocked to explore their options, drawn in by the energy pulsing through the narrow streets. Racks displayed a diverse variety of clothing styles, sizes and designs – from colorful shirts and fashionable pants to stylish jackets.
The market in Asko Chereta offered shoppers a wide range of choices. Bargaining voices rang out as buyers haggled for the best deals and sellers enthusiastically showcased their merchandise. An excitement filled the air as residents and visitors alike indulged in the joy of finding unique and affordable items within this bustling hub of the secondhand clothing market.
Chereta, a vibrant marketplace in Addis Ababa, has a rich history spanning decades dating back to the early development of the city. As an integral part of Addis Ababa’s commercial landscape, Chereta has evolved alongside the metropolis, adapting to changes over time and weathering political and social shifts.
Established almost four decades ago, the market has reliably served the community’s diverse needs, originally focusing on clothing while retaining its charm over expansions. Today, Chereta stands as a testament to the resilience of its traders and the enduring popularity of the marketplace, where generations have found treasures and bargains for many years.
One shopper is Meswaet Tsige, a mother of three living within 10 kilometers of Chereta in Piassa.
“The marketplace is the only place you can find high-quality used clothing for an affordable price,” she said. “I stopped shopping at boutiques because of rising living costs.”
Soaring inflation has placed significant financial strain on residents across Ethiopia, especially in the capital of Addis Ababa. With costs increasing over 30 percent for much of the past two years, and only slowing to 29 percent last month, the rising prices have outstripped wage growth for many. Basic necessities like food and clothing have become less affordable as inflation has escalated much faster than incomes.
This difficult economic environment has left many Ethiopians in a vulnerable position, struggling to make ends meet with stagnant earnings against surging inflation. New clothing and other discretionary purchases are no longer feasible for lower-income households. Buying used items has become more attractive given the reduced prices compared to boutiques selling new products.
Markets like Chereta in Addis Ababa have grown in importance as a reliable source of more affordable goods. With inflation biting hard into budgets, these secondhand markets have become a lifeline for those now priced out of boutiques. The high inflation poses clear challenges, particularly for vulnerable segments, magnifying the significance of thriftier marketplaces.
At Chereta, customers can find a range of prices for different clothing items.
T-shirts are available from 50 birr to 150 birr, jackets range from 200 birr to 550 birr, and pants can be found within the price range of 500 birr to 800 birr. These prices reflect factors such as condition, brand, and style.
Buying new clothing from boutiques in Addis Ababa has become unaffordable for most residents. The price at Chereta is far from the one available in boutiques. T-Shirts now cost as high as 1000 birr if new. Trousers are over 600 birr and if it is of reasonable quality, can be as much as 1200 birr.
No one understands changing consumer behaviors better than Habtom Yemane, who owns a boutique in Saris Market Center. Foreseeing shifting tides five years ago, he opened a small thrift store to hedge against declining new clothing sales.
“From observing trends, it was clear people would embrace used garments more,” Habtom notes. However, not all thrift shops offer equivalent quality, in his view.
“The clothing quality at my shop versus Chereta is quite different. Mine are gently used pieces in excellent condition, while Chereta offers a wider range from worn to pristine,” he said.
At his store, customers will find shirts priced 700 to 900 birr, pants from 1000 to 1500 birr, and jackets ranging 800 to 1500 birr.
Still, Habtom acknowledges Chereta’s indispensable role. “It’s a lifeline not only for traders there but also retailers who source inventory and offer consumers more affordable options,” he emphasizes.