Fëgg jaay finds!

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Baby girl clothes, including a ballet leotard! 100-200 cfa each

Angie’s post about fëgg jaay shopping in Dakar was so inspiring that we decided we had to go. So this morning we set out at about 9am for the Monday market near the Orange stadium. (See Angie’s post for a full list of daily market locations.)

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Pants, 300 cfa each

Our first stop was a pile of pants being sold for 300cfa (about 50 cents) each. Yeah. We shopped there for quite a while! I think between the three of us, we bought 20+ pairs of pants! Most were linen blends with flowy legs, perfect for Senegal weather. We found pants from the Gap, Marks & Spencer, H&M…

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Why yes, I am in fact standing on my coffee table to show you what I bought…

The kids clothes were a little hit-or-miss, but at 100 cfa per item, you just HAVE to stop and dig through the piles for a minute or two. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find a pair of blue camouflage shorts in just the right size or the perfect (ugly) Christmas sweater to make them wear? 😉

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Two men’s shirts and one woman’s top, 500 cfa each

It’s certainly not snobby, but perhaps a bit prideful to say… But I think everything we bought came from the piles on the ground, whereas usually I buy from than hanging racks. Angie taught us well!

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Toddler Ts, 200 cfa each

Just beat it.

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My friend Sarah and I decided to be adventurous and go shopping at the big international fair the other day. (By her book, this probably isn’t adventurous. I mean she was a Peace Corps Volunteer on some volcanic island in the middle of nowhere and has an amazing collection of beautiful tattoos. But in my book, shopping the markets in Dakar is being adventurous.)

Anyway – we set off, paid for our 500 cfa tickets and and patted ourselves on the back for arriving at 9am just as they were opening and before the crowds came. Pat, pat, pat… Shop, shop, shop.

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With some help from a friend, we were both able to find and buy some really beautiful fabrics. The lightweight fabric is called khartoum and comes from Mauritania, but it was tie-dyed by hand in the small town of Matam over near the Malian border. For 6 meters of fabric, we bargained our way to paying 10,000 cfa ($20) and 14,000 ($28) each. Cue more back patting.

Now all that was left to do was meet up with the tailor this morning to have him create something(s) beautiful.

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Last night I called a Senegalese friend to be sure that it wouldn’t be a problem for us to give the tailor fabrics that hadn’t yet been washed. “Washed?” she asked. “Why would you wash it?” I wasn’t quite sure how to answer, but figured out quickly that I was about to learn an important lesson in caring for fabrics Senegalese the way.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Only have the fabric cleaned as needed, certainly not after every wear.
  • Only spot-clean your fancy Senegalese clothes.
  • After several wearings (like five or more), you can take the clothes to a professional cleaner who will beat the dirt out of them, do any spot-cleaning and then starch and iron them back to their original condition. This should cost about 1500 cfa ($3).

Well there you go. Don’t wash your clothes – just have them beaten!

Any other tips I should know?

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Tips for fëgg jaay shopping in Dakar

Today’s guest post comes from one of our favorite contributors, Angie in this. Check out Angie’s blog here.

Have you ever seen a super cute skirt on a friend, or an adorable dress on a little girl, and said to yourself, “I want one just like that in my size!” Well, ladies, that right there is one of the best reasons to shop at a fëgg jaay. The deals on used clothes are great, of course, but it’s also the best place to shop for “modèles” for your next outfit. And, since tailors always do best when they have in hand a sample of what you want to have made, why not browse around for pieces you’d like to have him/her use for your next outfit?

So, whether I’m looking for inspiration, doing some frugal Christmas shopping, or simply stocking up on “winter” clothes, I always find an excuse to make a run to the nearest fëgg jaay. I’ve heard it translated as “swap meet,” but I don’t know if that’s precise enough. Perhaps no term in the English language can fully capture the wonder of a chaotic, ambulant market that offers the best deals on clothes, shoes, belts, purses, bedding, and much, much more. I’m so enamored with said markets that I do all my shopping there before returning to N. America so I’ll have plenty of cute “new” clothes to wear for my trip. This, of course, is in contrast to most friends who can’t wait to hit the malls as soon as they arrive in the land of plenty! (I do, however, buy my underwear at the outlets back home. You gotta draw the line somewhere!)

Location
Here’s the places you can find this moving market throughout the week:

Monday: Orange Stadium Parking Lot, off the airport road
Tuesday: Yoff
Wednesday: the street along Casino Sahm
Thursday: Guediewaye
Friday: Dalifort
Saturday: rue Front de Terre

My personal favourite is the Monday Market, because it’s organized in a rectangular space (as opposed to the long, serpentine set up of most of the other markets). That means that if you see something you like and you want to keep shopping and think it over, you can easily find your way back to that vendor. When a market is spread out over block after block of urban madness, it can be pretty difficult to weave your way back to where you think you might have seen that perfect pair of pumps you had your eye on.

What to Wear
Wear a form fitting top in a neutral colour you wear often, so you can picture what your bottoms will look like with it. And also, so you can slip other tops on over what you’re wearing.

Wear a skirt with biker shorts on underneath, so you can try on pants with ease.

Wear flip flops so you can slip in and out of your shoes quickly to try on both shoes and pants.

If you have long hair, wear your hair up and out of your way, as you don’t want your lovely locks coming in unnecessary contact with some of the grittiness you’ll experience. 🙂

What to Bring
Basic Wolof. No one expects you to be fluent, but you’ll go far to win over those around you (vendors and fellow shoppers) if, at each stall you visit, you begin by greeting everyone with a simple, “Asalamualekum! Nan ngeen def?”

Bring a bag ‘o bags to contain all the goodies you buy. It helps if they’re not the kind that dig into your shoulders when weighed down with treasures.

Your cell phone to get a second opinion on purchases you’re unsure of. Keep your ringer set to LOUD, as you won’t hear it otherwise.

Optional: A working knowledge of European sizing isn’t necessary, but it is handy.

If shopping for bedding, make sure you know the measurements of your bed and are able to tell which sheets are the right size for your beds. Vendors have been known to get mixed up.

Water. All that haggling makes me so thirsty!

A list of what you want/need. It’s so easy to get distracted by all the wonderful options and end up coming home with five cute new tops and no pants, when that’s what you really needed!

Lots of small bills. I hoard my change in the days leading up to my visit to the market just for this purpose.

Time. As a general rule, I stay away from anything on a hanger. Those are the priciest items, hand picked by the vendor, and they often go for twice the price of anything on the ground. So, I tend to stick to the piles below. If you’ve got a few hours to spend, you may enjoy scouring through mountains of blouses/shirts to find the perfect collection of tops in a variety of colours and styles at 100-300 CFA ($0.20-$0.60) each. Sure, some won’t fit or look quite right once I get them home, but at that price, I can afford to buy a few duds, which can be set aside to be donated to the women’s prison or another worthy cause.

Sometimes, however, you may only have an hour or two. When that’s the case, by all means, pick from the clothes nicely displayed on hangers, or in the case of kids’ clothes, neatly arranged on a table, sorted by size and gender. You’ll pay twice as much, but it will still be a fraction of the price of anything in N. America (even at thrift stores!).

Finally, bring a sense of humour, as people tend to stare at the crazy toubab trying on other toubabs‘ discarded clothes in public, and then haggling for the best price. I consider the attention part of the experience. Flow with it and you’ll have a great experience and come home with lots of great deals and probably a story or two to share!

Cha-cha-chaya!

I am so happy that the chayas are such a big hit! I’ve been a fan for a long time and am thrilled that Patricia has made them available to us in such fun colors, good quality and at a reasonable price.

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To be sure everyone is up to speed, here’s the scoop…

– You can order directly from Patricia directly at any time. 77 631 7437 She speaks English, French and Wolof. Most orders can be completed in just four or five days. The chayas are 5000 cfa/pair, plus reimbursing her for her taxi fare if you want them delivered to you.

– In order to help facilitate Christmas orders, I have a stock of 20 pairs here at my apartment. You are welcome to come by and shop! I will also make one delivery over to Dakar Academy at the end of next week, probably on Friday the 13th. If you want to order for that delivery, contact me ASAP.

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FAQs

Can I order other colors of tie-dye?

You can request other colors and we’ll see what we can do!

Can I order in solid black?

Yes, no problem. If you want them in time for pick-up here at my place or for the one-time delivery to D.A., orders need to be in by Friday the 6th. Or you can always order from Patricia directly at any time.

What about other solid colors?

No problem, but you’ll need to order directly from Patricia.

Are they really one size fits all?

They really are. The elastic is good quality and the legs are long. However, if you want to special order longer leg lengths, you can contact Patricia. (There may be an extra fee.)

Red, brown, purple or orange multi-color tie-dye

Red, brown, purple or orange multi-color tie-dye