They are not a people who believe in living or thinking within the box when it comes to self-expression. I must say I do admire that about them.
They possess the necessary audacity and confidence to ensure that the person that they are on the inside is expressed externally. Coming from a conservative nation most of their external articulation of who they are is weird but they do not care. Obviously, this should be done in good taste.
Apart from their sense of style, there are some attributes of the South African shopping experience I enjoyed and think should be implemented in Zimbabwe as soon as possible.
One size does not fit all
Zimbabwean stores do not stock my size, they only stock the size above mine and upwards. I am an extra small and no store in Zimbabwe caters for my size needs so I generally do not shop in Zimbabwe as it is pointless. I do not like loose fitting clothes as they look like they are hanging on a tree so I prefer to wear fitting clothes. Fitting, however, does not translate to tight fighting.
Even the jeans in Zimbabwe are too big at the waist and yet not long enough. Yet, in South Africa they cater for all their demographics, size wise at least. If you are super small or extra, extra, extra large there is a size for you. Some of their stores have a petite range for the smaller and shorter woman. They cater for their curvy as well as non-curvy women. Sometimes it can be a curse because everyone can wear everything even though it may not look as good on other women as it does on their fellow women.
Late night shopping
With the Christmas season upon us, late night shopping is a great initiative. A shopping centre like Sam Levy’s village could adopt this for most evenings during the festive season instead of just doing it on the evening that Christmas lights are turned on. Our stores close the same time that everyone else knocks off work which means you leave all your shopping to Saturday morning. There is barely enough time to shop, bank, get your nails and hair done on a Saturday morning so it would be good if you could get some of the things out of the way during weekday evenings instead of trying to fit everything into a Saturday morning.
Sales and discounts
Some of our local stores are beginning to implement these and I must commend them. I remember when I was a student in Cape Town I seldom shopped outside of sale season because clothes were expensive then but during clearance sales I would bargain hunt and would come across great, good quality finds that are actually still a part of my wardrobe to date. Currently, at a lot of the Cape Town stores there are promotions like buy two get one free. We need more of these at home.
The Christmas season brings with it a number of people who behave unscrupulously. Carrying large amounts of cash on you when you go shopping is not advisable as thieves and pick pockets are on the increase. In South Africa you carry your credit or debit card with you so even if you have an encounter with a thief you do not risk losing any cash. In the event the card is stolen you can call your bank and cancel the card and all will be well.
Variety is the spice of life after all. In South Africa there are different levels of quality for different budgets. Even though the quality may differ, it is not a drastic difference. For example where someone would buy R13 000 True Religion jeans, another may buy R1 000 Sissy boy jeans, another R400 Edgars jeans and yet another R150 Mr Price jeans. The quality of the denim will be different but in most cases you cannot tell, if you buy the right style and cut for your body and wear it well. Also they have something for everyone from the eclectic to the conservative to the trendsetter or trend follower, whoever you are there is something for you.