Customers and traders..Syrians in the second-hand market in Istanbul

Enab Baladi – Mamoun Al-Bustani

“What we earn in the summer, we spend most of it in the winter.” With this phrase, the Syrian refugee Juma’ summed up and placed it in the sale of used household appliances in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

Juma’a (23), from the northern countryside of Aleppo, told Enab Baladi during an interview in his small shop selling used household appliances that he sought refuge in Turkey in 2016 and chose Istanbul because his family lives there .

The young man started working by selling used household appliances as a worker in a Turkish store since 2018, and after moving from one store to another, in the year 2020 he was able to open his own store in the Sultanbeyli- neighborhood in the Asian side of Istanbul.

“I made the decision to open a private project after learning the Turkish language, since I could speak and read well, while I could write in an acceptable way, and I also mastered the profession, I know where buying used tools and how to market them, and I developed my skill in dealing with customers.” Juma said.

After eating his quick lunch (a falafel sandwich and a glass of yogurt “ayran”), Gomaa continued his talk about the “second-hand market” in which he works in Sultanbeyli, which consists of about 25 shops, which run by Turks, while he is the only Syrian who has a shop in this market.

Juma has good relations with the shop owners in the market. While he was talking to the author of the report, his Turkish neighbor came in and sat at a table in front of his shop and joked about his habit of drinking Syrian tea instead of Turkish tea. to drink

“Whoever has used something that he wants to sell, and he is often Turkish, comes to the market to show it to the shop owners, or he communicates with those they know to inspect the things at home, and here the previous relations a role to go only to the owner of the shop, and the purchase offers It also plays a role in obtaining the goods.” This is the most common way to buy used tools, according to Jumaa.

Jumaa referred to other sources for acquiring second-hand tools, including neighborhood stores, and in a very small percentage, online purchases (“Facebook, websites).

What do Syrians and Turks buy?

The prices of used household appliances vary according to the brands, the date of manufacture and how clean the exterior structure is, according to Jumaa, who pointed out that the average price of a refrigerator, for example, is 1,500 Turkish liras (one US dollar) is equal to 18 Turkish liras), the same price as a washing machine As for the bedroom The price varies between five thousand and ten thousand Turkish liras, while the price of a guest room varies between two thousand and five thousand Turkish liras.

The customers who enter the Friday store are both Turkish and Syrian, he said, explaining that Turks buy electrical household appliances from him (refrigerator, washing machine, oven, TV screen…), while Syrians buy everything generally available, from furniture to electrical appliances.

According to Juma’a, the Syrian asks for everything he lacks in the house from used utensils, “for example, the person who is about to marry comes, and the first thing he looks for is to prepare his house, is furniture (bedroom and guest room…), then electrical tools, and then other necessities such as kitchen tools.”

The young man said: “The Syrian who works with a limited salary does not have the financial ability to equip his house with new tools.” Instead of buying a new bedroom at a price of 20,000 Syrian pounds, he replaces it with a used room in good condition at a price that does not exceed half the price of the new one.

Young singles look for cheap tools, while the family buys a big washing machine, the single living alone chooses a small washing machine for less.

Used household appliances for sale in a shop in the “Used Market” in the Sultanbeyli area of ​​the Asian side of Istanbul – July 2022 (Enab Baladi)

Non-fixed return

The profession of selling used tools does not generate stable profits, according to Juma’a, and it fluctuates according to supply and demand. In winter, sales are very poor. “What we earn in the summer, we spend most of it in the winter.”

Also, the high prices in Turkey (inflation) have affected the sale, and it is no longer the same as it was several years ago. People prefer to use their furniture and household items for longer periods than before, and therefore use the used goods what is for sale is no longer in the same abundance as before, when the Turks frequently replaced their furniture.

Jumaa estimated the cost of buying used furniture for the home, including bedrooms, guest and electrical appliances, between 20 thousand and 30 thousand Turkish liras, while buying it as new furniture costs more than 100 thousand, pointing out that others small tools such as kitchen utensils and others can also be bought at markets selling used utensils scattered in different areas of Istanbul.

Second hand markets

There are several ways to buy second hand in Istanbul. In addition to the “Bale” and second-hand markets known as “İkinci Pazar,” there are parallel online markets, including shopping groups via Facebook, or specialized websites such as “Letgo”. ” and “Sahibinden.” “.

Khadija (38 years old), a Syrian refugee living in the Samandra area in the Asian side of Istanbul, is a mother of three children, and her forty-year-old husband works in a textile factory. She told Enab Baladi that she goes to the Uzunshire region almost every Friday, where there is a big market for second-hand tools. , to buy necessities for her home.

She added that she searches the market for small electrical appliances (mixer, electric frying pan, small oven…), and for all the necessary kitchen supplies, noting that she gets these tools at a much cheaper price than new ones.

The woman uses homework provided by her Turkish neighbor. She installs small electrical parts for some workshops for 50 Turkish liras per day. According to what she said, she saves money from her household expenses, in addition to the income from this work.

Khadija arrived in Turkey with her family in 2016 from Idlib Governorate in northwestern Syria. With the money she saves, she completes what she lacks in the second-hand market, or replaces those that are damaged.

About three million and 650 thousand Syrian refugees live in Turkey, according to the latest statistics issued on July 21 by the Turkish Directorate General of Migration Management.

According to the same statistical data, Istanbul has the largest number of Syrian refugees compared to other Turkish states, with almost 550,000 Syrian refugees living there.

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