Akure, the Ondo State capital is an ancient town where residents are known to be happy with the culture of getting everything they need from markets located in various parts of the city. Yes, they do their shopping ranging from foodstuff, clothing, toiletries, drinks, beauty products and other consumables in the local markets.
Of all the markets, the King’s Market popularly called “Oja Oba” located along the main Adesida/Oyemekun Road is the most patronised market by the residents, who thronged the place for various household items and other consumables.
For this particular reason, traffic jam remained a permanent feature around the area. Just like Oshodi in Lagos State that was noted for its traffic Jam, before the menace was tackled by the Lagos State Government, driving along the Adesida/Oyemekun Road remained traumatic relatively when one considers the size of the city, due to lack of required parking space which makes vehicle owners to park along the major road thus obstructing the free flow of traffic.
And for lack of proper packing space, many shoppers often leave their vehicles at home to arrive in the market using taxis nowadays.
This practice also has its own problems as shoppers now hire wheelbarrows to help them move items to the main road from where they board taxi again to their houses which many people consider too inconvenient.
However, the only choice open to those who cannot go through this rigour then was to make their purchases in shops closed to their places of residence at higher prices when compared to prices at Oja Oba.
Apart from the traffic problems, the market is always filled with dirts and garbage which makes it unattractive to some shoppers, particularly the educated ones who are forced to patronise few high street stores around. Again the prices of goods are slightly higher than what is obtained in normal shops at the open markets.
The situation in Akure persisted for a very long time due to lack of political will on the part of successive administration until early 2009 when Dr Olusegun Mimiko administration took the bull by the horn and outlawed all forms of street trading in Akure metropolis.
But nowadays, residents of Akure are finding shopping experience a good one with the springing up of many big stores and supermarkets at various locations in the state capital.
Interestingly, these stores are located in strategic places on the main Adesida/Oyemekun/Alagbaka Road.
The springing up of these stores practically solved most of the problems being confronted by shoppers that hitherto being buying their items from the open and conventional markets and small shops.
“The shopping malls around are changing the way we live. The challenges we face in the local markets are no more there and we are enjoying the atmosphere of purchasing household items without the stress and noise of the local markets,” said Adekunle Oluwakemi, a resident of Akure.
It is not out of place therefore that whenever a visitor makes enquiry about where he or she can get some items be it cosmetics, household items, drinks, consumables or clothes, name of stores like NAO, Supermarkets, stadium Junction, CECY, Alagbaka, Chris Supermarket, Cathedral area, OUK Adegbola, LASCO among others always come to mind.
In the past, it is only the educated ones and rich residents that patronised the little fairly big stores in Akure but now patronage of big stores and supermarkets is no longer the exclusive reserve of the rich people.
As of today, average shoppers now make their purchases in big stores irrespective of the volume of items they want to buy.
The existence of many big stores in Akure has now equate the rich and the not too rich as they now shop under the same roof.
Many residents said they now prefer to do their shopping in fairly big stores for many reasons.
For Folukemi Amodu, she patronises big stores for her purchases because in just one store she could get all her needs in terms of cosmetics, beverages, drinks and toiletries under one roof.
"I am in this store now, I have rest of mind. I parked my vehicle outside and I have confidence that nothing will happen to my car by the time I get outside.
"Before now, when you go to open markets, you have to move from one shop to the other even in filthy environment to get all that I have bought within few minutes in this one shop.
"Again, look at this environment, look at the interior and the orderly manner in which everybody is behaving, it will make to want to come back again", she said.
In her own reaction, Mrs Adeola Adeniyi said she prefer to do her shopping in big stores because one is sure of the quality of the products she is buying.
Apart from this, Adeniyi said the prices of products in these big stores are low when you consider what is obtainable in the open markets, the quality of which one is not even sure of.
Moreover, the woman also said that there are some products that one cannot get in open markets but are available in these so called big stores and if one risks buying them in open markets one may buy fake ones.
The position of the women was butressed by Mr Rotimi Olufunmi a deputy director in the Ondo State Ministry of Information, who said patronage of big stores had also become a matter of status symbol.
He said apart from the issue of low prices and assurance of the quality of the products, many people who patronise big stores as a matter of status symbol.
Another thing that is interesting about the current development in the area of shopping is the fact that people who even want to buy as little as a tin of milk now do so in these stores particularly those living around where these stores are located.
Speaking on the matter, the Operation Manager of CECY Shopping Mall, Mr Gbenga Ogunyelu said people now patronised mall because of the assurance that what they are buying is genuine and because of varieties of products on display.
He said the minds of customers are at rest when they buy from mall than from open markets because they know they can easily revert to the seller if there are problems.
Ogunyelu also added that one might think of buying a particular product but eventually change their minds when they see other variety of brands on display.
He also identified the cheaper prices being offered customers because of the direct source of supply that they do have.
Ogunyelu also said everybody is now conscious of their own safety and their vehicles whenever they go to malls to do their shopping which they can be sure of in environment where malls are located.The Cecy operation manager also said modernisation is taken place in Akure to everyone’s delight.
Article Credit: Thisdaylive