Home > News > Kiosk Addis are on thier last legs

Kiosk Addis are on thier last legs

 By B.Mezgebu

The other day, I was looking all over the place for a ‘kiosk’ with the intension of buying a single sheet of lined paper which I needed at the time. Having lived in this city for decades, I was used to purchasing small items like a single cigarette, a single box of matches, razor blades, etc at the many small booths that dotted the city then. Within Addis proper, one needed not to walk more than a couple hundred meters to find one. But that day, I was in for a big surprise from something which all along I had felt but did so only vaguely: the kiosk, as we knew it was disappearing. I walked this side and that side up and down. There were indeed shops galore, but one landmark was missing: that space out of a wall, that widow-like opening was nowhere to be seen.

What happened to the ubiquitous Kiosk that once speckled the city of Addis? In a way, kiosks made Addis special as a capital city. Not that Addis lacked other characteristics that distinguished it, but those pocket-sized shops and their pervasiveness made Addis probably one of its kind.

The demise of the kiosk which is a work in progress and has not yet reached the climax, came about not by decree. To say globalization brought down the kiosk might be a little of overstatement but not totally untrue. It couldn’t have been just one thing. What can be clearly seen for sure and at face value is that boutique has become the bane of the kiosk. The bona fide kiosk used to be a breed apart before it became a breed on the last gasp. It was no business model for squanderers. Its owners’ main modus operandi was penny-pinching. Rotating ownership demanded close if not blood relations. But this type of ownership infused it with new ideas from time to time. Mutual support was a given. The booth itself which is no more than a cubicle was a home too.An Ethiopian who moved to Nairobi from Addis several years ago lamented the fact that there were no such handy neighborhood shops in the Kenyan capital. Most people in Nairobi supposedly do their all their shopping in department stores. Shopping in malls needs advance planning. It requires some travel; and you have to buy everything by the dozen. So he said he missed the Ethiopian kiosk, the least intimidating shop in the planet.

Of all of us who will miss the kiosks, the real losers will probably be stay-at home mothers in Addis. Kiosks are easily accessible to everyone. More important, they are the ultimate in retail. Credit is allowed with no need for signed evidence. Trust will do.

Most important of all kiosks are the ultimate in retail. Before inflation made a mockery of most money, a quarter went a long way in this place. Not those kiosks were particularly cheap, but because of the extent of the retail.

You want to buy firewood or charcoal just fir one cooking? No problem there, the kiosk will oblige. And you wanted that at some ungodly hour like 6 a.m. in the morning or 10 p.m. in the evening? No problem there too. And by the way shout you orders over the fence.

Times are changing. Business paradigms are shifting. For better or worse, the hand of free market is even affecting the kiosk to the finish. To succeed in this business, one has to be a pennywise. Thrift and total avoidance of conspicuous consumption are the hallmark of the trade.

Many housewives have attempted to dabble in this kind of enterprise by simply modifying of their homes as kiosks, must had folded and gone back to housekeeping. The reason mostly being that the social attributes financial self discipline is not in everyone.

In Addis these days, it is as though there are too many people as sellers. A newly asphalted road anywhere in the city turns overnight into a street of sundry shops. Many of them are imitations of each other. It is feared that this will lead into unhealthy competition that might undo everybody.

Source the Daily Monitor

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Categories: News
  1. Tenagne
    November 3, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Nice observation eloquently expressed. Getting small items handy is of course one assets of living in Addis. It is sad that big businesses are devouring the kiosks.
    But other spots like Tej bet are also disappearing in Addis. Tej bet like Memehere Bet at Legehar were something of a relic for Addis where old-timers spend time at an affordable price drinking Teg, honey made beverages. But now the spots are now being destroyed, as they are needed for large buildings. In the next fifty years, Addis will be like another r artificial city, with no monument and shrine of her own.
    Let us keep them.

  2. Ayelech
    November 3, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Tenagne,
    I understood your concerns, however, you’re mixing apple with orange. The general public doesn’t go to “Tej bet” and we all know that what’s Tej’s for so, there’s no comparison between the disapperance of “Arab Bet” and Tej bet. In my neigborhood, those who were a kiosk owners moved up for the better. It would be hard pin pointing why they’re dissappering, though.

    Speaking of a need for large building, i don’t see a globalization impact yet, but the blame should go to those so called “city planners”. It’s not even meet the simple theory of supply and demand in economics terms. Somebody need to shake them real good and wake them up from fantacy land.

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