A personal guide to shopping in Lagos

Since living here I have learnt how to be a kobo saver. Always seeking ways to spend less money because I have learnt that there are prices and then there is the ‘last price’.

For most goods, it really just depends on how much you are prepared to pay for it.I now no longer simply accept the first price I hear because I have been cheated so many times. As a paying customer I have learnt that it is my duty and my right to negotiate, starting at a third of the asking price and then settling at half of the price, traders are known for doubling and or even tripling their prices at the sight of you. Another shopping practice of mine is to return to the shop or stall at the end of the day as this gives more power for bargaining the price down further.

Malls and Markets
Whether it’s markets, malls or boutique stores, the city has some of the best buys for the discerning customer.In Lagos one can really enjoy a good sweat from the exercise of shopping. The best way to shop is with a shopping list because you are almost certain to  return home with more than what you planned to buy.

Boutiques in Victoria Island and Ikoyi sell most fashionable clothing items and are the two places that I am most familiar with in Lagos, so I will talk about these places. Here you can find genuine high-end designers that can be bought for reasonable prices. There are also international stores like Mango, Fossil and Hugo Boss in ‘The Palms’ mall and other boutiques selling world famous brands such as TM Lewin,, Zara, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Hermes and a few other hidden rare gems that they might have to brig out from the storage for you to try.

There is also ‘Mega Plaza’ on Idowu Martins Street and ‘Park ‘n’ Shop’ on Adeola Odeku Street where one can buy jewellery, electronics and high-end souvenirs. These places have probably the best quality of imported goods in the country, but be warned the prices are extremely expensive. Some of the flat screen TVs here go for more than N900,000 (£3,000) ! Depending on what you are after you can also find great items at Lekki market, a one stop market for local souvenirs – arts and crafts, batiks, ceramics, paintings, statues and local jewellery. Eko Hotel mini market is always good for cultural souvenirs too, and the Hausa traders are always welcoming and helpful from the entrance. However be ready to crouch down, browse, and compare before you buy, but be careful if you break or rip something by accident you will have to pay for it. So only look and touch when you are ready to buy.

Treasure Trove
There are some great shops in the shopping district of Ikoyi on Awolowo Rd, in south West Ikoyi that sell what I like to call ready to wear off-the-rack kind of pieces, smart blouses, red carpet dresses, clutch bags and clothing that is slightly more pricey but well worth it if you like that sort of thing. At Falomo Shopping centre you can also dig deep and search for bargains but also tell shop owners what you are looking for. You never know what they might bring out for you from the back of the storage room, and if you are a book worm like me you will love the up market souvenir shop in Eko hotel open on set days, but always after church on a Sunday.

Despite the treasure trove of African goodies and the opportunity to sew as much ankara and lace styles as I want, I still miss late night shopping on a Thursday after work in Oxford Street and Westfield, not to mention spontaneous visits to Portobello market on Saturdays without a chaperone or driver to tagging along.

A variety of ways to buy
Shopping in Nigeria can also be less formal than going to a market or mall; sometimes you will see people walking around just carrying goods for sale. Some of the best things I have bought have been when I was least expecting it, like a few weeks ago when a lady pulled up outside my office and started selling work wear and platform heels, myself and the girls in the office were going crazy choosing what to buy. It was like payday shopping on your doorstep for real! As well as this more recently when I was putting out my rubbish bin, a lady approached me who was carrying ankara material on her head. I had no cash on me so I said “another time,” she told me “Take, you are my customer” and promised to come for the money the following week. This is typical of how most people  sell; they can sell anywhere and anyhow. I also found that my colleagues offered me things to buy. For instance, one of my colleagues who knows where to buy Primark and Dorothy Perkins goods from London for almost half the price sends me pictures of items  via blackberry messenger!
I am quickly learning that in order to find the best way find the best shopping districts of Lagos is to take my time and wonder around the some of the backstreet havens that exist. The best shops and stalls don’t always have names or look like they have what you want inside but a real shopper takes delight in having a rummage through and discovering what is out there.

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