I have always wondered why big supermarkets sell items for sh 10? Until I saw people renting their homes and living in mabati houses, and till I saw people turning the boots of their saloons cars to grocery stops; for tomatoes, onions, cabbages, eggs, and my favorite – mangoes. I have bought a lot of mangoes from people’s car boots.
What you will realize is that most of these people are city farmers, they live in Nairobi but own farms in Narok, Ukambani and Thika. And when they harvest, they turn their city neighbors to customers for their produce, such is the hustle in this city. My friend Tony hangs out with us drinking Hunters Choice but on some weekends we see him on tractors plowing in Narok, once in awhile he comes with bags of potatoes and maize in his car boot to sell us.
It is now bigger than ever, I used to see people in my neighborhood sell fruits from the boots of their Probox and I dismissed them as just hustlers trying to make an extra coin. However, since the corona pandemic everyone in my estate, Embakasi – Nyayo area et al turned their car boots to grocery stores. I tell you this corona thing is bankrupting more people than it is killing. However, we will have to survive, hakuna option hapa. When worse comes to worst, people will trade every product and skill they have. I tell you I have lived by writing articles on corona more than anything in the past five months. I can proudly say I have tasted corona money. I used to make money writing copy and editing, but since corona, all I have written is “how to remain resilient during a pandemic” and such kind of things.
Back to the main story of turning car boots into groceries and egg shops, I will tell you for free that vegetables sold in car boots are fresher than anything you will ever buy from supermarkets or mama mboga. These guys go to their farms, harvest the produce, and bring them to you, and their cabbages are cheaper too. You can trust these products they are selling. However, unlike mama mboga, these rich vegetable sellers won’t cut for you the vegetables and pack it. They just sell per bunch, you will cut for yourself. These are not your ordinary grocery owners, lanes my friends, lanes.
You see when a rich man tries to do a hustlers’ business, he goes at it differently. I have done these small businesses when I was in college and I would run them so differently. I used to sell Chapatti and tea to guys while on campus as my comrades were selling weed and muguka. It is my friend’s girlfriend who would cook the Chapattis since we were in collaboration…I could just text guys to come for them when they are ready. I was very popular in college so in one hour the Chapattis would be gone and the tea too…the remaining tea I would drink with my goons. I could do that business when I feel like it…man, I made small money, but it was nice during college days. I think I should try those small businesses again.
When you see a barbershop in the hood, it is just regular. You walk in and get a haircut. However, when I visit a high-end barbershop, they treat me differently; they will take my details and put me on their client list. They will send me a happy birthday and holiday messages all the time. They will send me their new offers all the time, they will open social media pages for it and promote it, and they will give me links to book if I want a certain service. And man this is a barbershop; they are running it like a fortune 500 company.
As we all know the hotel industry slowed, and most chefs are now at home. However, they are baking Samosas and Mandazis and selling them to their neighbors. Baking is not a cheap skill trust me, I can even go further and say that only professional bakers can make the right dough for a Chapatti or a Mandazi.
Baking is not like cooking, with cooking you can guess and still come up with something edible but with baking, if you put two spoonfuls of sugar instead of two and a half, you will end up with something that even a dog will not eat. Just try and see.
My friends who used to work in the hotel industry are now baking samosas, cakes, and selling Tilapia fish in the hood, and that’s just life. When life pushes to the wall you brawl back to it. As for me, I am all here documenting these corona chronicles and making a little cheddar out of it.
This corona thing shows you who the real Nairobians are, a city dweller doesn’t mind changing plans when shit hits the fan, they will stay and take the heat. They will get their hands dirty; they won’t run to the village…because that money doesn’t sleep.