The appeal of street shopping in Mauritius has just been dimmed by shocking revelations. It appears that not every clothing item sold by street vendors is totally new. Rather, some of them are actually second-hand ones. Some of the ‘new’ clothes have, in fact, been worn by customers all the way back from China. Uh-oh – that tshirt or top you bought on the street the other day might actually have had a user before you. Ouch.
Picture via Lexpress
Street shopping is part and parcel of the Mauritian culture. Streets of the city and towns are almost always lined up with street vendors displaying their products and items for passers-by to see. Customers are generally attracted by the very much affordable prices of the items, specially of clothes. However, beware, oh gullible buyer, for some of the clothes might not be new at all…
Jeans at Rs 50 and tops at Rs 75 are indeed tempting to customers. Or even shirts sold at below Rs 100. Well, however alluring the low prices are, they might only be such because the items in question have been used before. The president of the “Front commun des commerçants”, Raj Appadu, has recently cautioned the public against such practice. He stated that some of the street vendors have themselves admitted that the clothes they sell have already been used by other people in the past.
In most of the cases, the second-hand clothes and the new ones are mixed together in the stalls. Neither of them is wrapped in plastic bags most of the times such that it is difficult to determine which is new and which is not. Now, who wears those clothes and then gives them off to be sold on the streets? You might think Mauritians sell their used-but-almost-new clothes to street vendors. That is not the situation at hand though. Most of the clothes to be imported to Mauritius come from China at a cheap price. Sometimes, it so happens that some Chinese customers renew their wardrobe collection, and their very used clothes land in Mauritius, onto the stalls of the street vendors, and ultimately, unsuspectingly, into our own closets.
The very thought of having bought ‘new’ clothes which were actually used clothes – all the way back from China – is so repugnant, right? Moreover, this practice is not even legal. According to the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA), the import of these types of clothes is strictly forbidden. No permit allowing for the import of such used items even exists. However, if the importers do not even mention this “little detail”, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage the situation. But, the selling of these items are not specifically forbidden by law. The sellers are to be honest in their dealings with customers; it is only when they are hiding the said facts that they are actually doing something illegal.