Shop with ease near home

Amanda Ngudle

Amanda Ngudle

When you snake your way through Soweto's Old Potchefstroom Road, you are enticed into taking numerous off-ramps leading to colourfully announced landmarks.

The biggest so far is the Protea Glen Mall, which boasts the creme de la creme of the mainstream shopping outlets. Swaggering food, clothing, lifestyle and eateries, the mall has become something of a statue of liberty for shoppers who used to dread the chest-on-chest shopping congestion in the city centre.

But for small business owners such as furniture dealer Dusty Nkoana, the hype about these malls is the object of financial affliction.

Though most of his customers used to enjoy his exclusive and often custom-designed furniture, the wildfire of the shopping malls has left a dent in his business.

"I have had to work tooth and nail just to stay afloat.

"I have had to drop prices and pull out all the stops to get people coming in and most of this hands-on marketing falls on deaf ears. This is because mainstream furniture suppliers give credit options for buyers, but I work on a lay-buy and cash option."

But his grand Midway Furniture Shop is not a gloomy story. It is a stadia for solid, bold furniture, which Nkoana says he co-designs with his manufacturers.

"This is upmarket furniture with no compromise to quality, but the amazing fact about us is that most people find that here, our products are so affordable that they can easily be bought for cash.

"People have to learn that higher purchase is slavery. Though they might own the product immediately, the repayments often double the price of the item," Nkoana says.