Second hand clothing is hugely popular in Zambia and this is true throughout several sectors of society. Shopping second hand is more than a strategy for the cash-strapped but a way to find unique items of clothing and accessories you won’t find in shops stocking mass-produced items. For those who don’t always want to get in the long queues at the mall with every Jack and Jill, there’s thrifting. You can get bomb pieces on a budget, a therapeutic experience (yes, retail therapy actually exists) and burn some calories as you explore the streets looking for rare items.
As a self-declared thrift ninja, I embarked on a journey to search for every thrift location leaving no stone unturned and I’m here to dish the tea. So buckle up and get ready for a thrift tour. If you are not already a thrifter, I guarantee you that we will be welcoming you to our little club by the end of this article.
Our ﬁrst stop is DAPP, one of the oldest charity shops that has been in operation in Zambia for the past 26 years. It is located along Nkwazi Road in Lusaka’s CBD. You will know that you have arrived when you see a large sign with their price caps, which are usually so low that I guarantee you will walk in just to have a peek and walk out with your hands full. The store is ﬁlled with multiple racks with a little bit of everything for both males and females including shoes, kids clothing, curtains, bags, you name it. You never have to feel guilty for spending all your money here as all DAPP’s proceeds go into various projects helping the less fortunate in our community.
TIP: The best time to visit DAPP is when they receive new stock. The staff takes customers details and messages are sent out a few days before new stock arrives.
2. CITY MARKET
I like to call this the tunnel because you literally walk through a straight path from beginning to the end and when you look up at the ceiling it seals the deal. In one of Lusaka’s biggest bus stations, once you get past all the bus drivers honking, at the heart of the station lies a rectangular dome where you will ﬁnd piles of clothes, shoes and accessories. There are turns that lead to more items but from my experience the gold is in the straight path. The sounds of every vendor shouting trying to draw attention to their pile of ridiculously affordable items can be extremely tempting. This is when your focus will be put to test, stick to what’s on your list or you will end up leaving with the entire market in your shopping bags. Trust me, I’m talking from experience. The tunnel is your go to spot for affordable footwear. Popular brands that you will always ﬁnd here are Vans, All Stars, Nike and Adidas.
TIP: Do not neglect the most disorganised looking piles, this is usually where the branded shoes are found.
3. SOWETO MARKET
As you exit the tunnel, across the road you’ll find Soweto Market. This location has fewer options than some other markets but like they say, quality over quantity and you’ll surely find some gems here.
TIP: Take time to look through what each stand has to offer; with fewer stalls you’re less likely to miss that great item that’ll elevate your style game.
4. LUMUMBA ROAD
Lumumba road is one of Zambia’s longest fashion streets with over 200 stalls. One of my favourite things about this location is the street is so wide that you don’t have to worry about constantly bumping into people.
TIP: The stalls here are a guy’s goldmine as they have the widest selection of men’s clothing.
Between PHI and Kalingalinga lies Mtendere. Like its name, which means peace, this is one of the most peaceful outdoor thrift locations I have been to. Despite having multiple stalls it always has the right amount of people and is never too crowded and the stall owners here are also very friendly.
TIP: Be sure to check what a couple of stands have to offer before spending all your money at one spot and ﬁnding the dress of your dreams on the next stand.
BONUS – ONLINE OPTIONS
As much fun as walking from stand to stand is, some days it’s nice to just scroll through your phone and pick an item from a thrift store and have it delivered to your door step. Online stores are a gift for the occasional lazy shopper or anyone just looking for a more convenient way to shop without leaving home. Excellent second hand clothing is only a DM away.
Finders Keepers on Facebook and Instagram – For the latest trends and vintage dresses
Nellia’s Collection on Facebook – For cute and stylish dresses at K100 or less
EverythingThrift on Facebook and Instagram – For a wide range of quality products, including unisex items