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Garage sales in Jakarta

In a time when spending and consuming is considered a lifestyle, thanks in part to the unfettered growth of
capitalism, some people will go an extra mile to hunt for a bargain.Garage sales and secondhand markets are alternatives available to many Jakartans who want to get good-quality items at bargain prices. And while hippies and tree huggers may opt for garage sales and going to Salvation Army stores because it contri-butes to saving the environment, many Jakartans do so for entirely different reasons — saving money.

Pride, locally known as gengsi, which is so central to our culture does not come into play in this context.

For Dian Safitri, a public relations consultant, garage sales have become her latest hobby. Dian said she did not mind buying secondhand goods and always found it thrilling to find a bargain.

“I bought a microwave and a sofa for only Rp 1 million [US$110]. I have also bought good-quality carpet, a stove and many other household utensils from garage sales,” Dian told The Jakarta Post recently.

In the past, garage sales were a small and low-key affair enjoyed mostly by a smaller audience, mainly expatriates. They often organize garage sales before moving out of Jakarta and returning to their home countries or relocating to other countries.

Today, however, garage sales are a local affair managed by local people and draw a larger crowd.

Jakarta Garage Sale is a Facebook group set up in July 2009 by a housewife, Inge Bachrens.

In the beginning, she just wanted to do something to chase away the boredom following her resignation from a music distribution company.

“I was not ready to go back to a full-time job as I wanted to spend more time with my kids,” she said.

Inge said that she always loved housecleaning and when she did a spring clean, she came up with the idea of organizing garage sales.

Inge said that she had experience in organizing garage sales years ago, but with a smaller audience of family and friends. Now, her Facebook group and Twitter account has attracted more than 3,300 members and 600 followers respectively.

Her husband, Daniel Tumiwa — whose Twitter feed was the first to break the news about the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott bombing last year — suggested she use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about her new activity.

“It proved to be a good decision as we now have a lot of members who offer their goods for us to sell, which makes it more interesting,” she said.

Inge said that her group had organized five events since it started in July last year, four times in 2009 and once last month, in her house in Kemang, South Jakarta.

But some are still too proud to scavenge at garage sales. Admitting that she enjoys the fun of bargain hunting and “competition”, Dian said she makes sure the garage sales only offers first-class quality goods.

She said that her favorite garage sales were those organized by her husband’s employer, an international school in the Pondok Indah area in South Jakarta and another by the Jakarta Garage Sale group.

“The school employs a number of foreigners, which kind of guarantees the quality of their items,” said Dian, who has mainly bought furniture, household goods and toys for her 4-year-old son from the bargain sales.

Shopping at garage sales is also a habit for Fitri Wulandari, a working mom. She recently bought a decent teakwood chair at a store that calls itself an “everyday garage sale” near her home in Bintaro, Tangerang, only for Rp 1 million. She also fell for a nice coffee table and bought it only for Rp 300,000, almost 50 percent less than its store price of Rp 500,000.

“I did not intentionally hunt for secondhand goods, but after checking several stores, we often found good quality items with good price in such stores,” she said.

“I am not a shopping addict, and only buy things when I need them. It’s not only furniture and household goods, I also often go to Pasar Baru [in Central Jakarta] to buy clothes. I bought a lot of winter clothes from there before I left for London for a work-related trip in 2003, as they were so cheap and I knew I wouldn’t use them for too long,” she said.

Inge agreed that bargain hunting remained a main attraction for those that went to garage sales. But when she set up the group for garage sale last year, it was not only for the fun of haggling, but also encouraged people to take more responsibility for their disposables.

“I know it’s impossible to stop people from shopping, but at least we have to be aware of the ‘waste’ they are making,” she said.

“Garage sales are a good way to pass on goods to other people that might value them more than us,” she added.

She added that she also wanted to educate people about the true meaning of garage sales and how to organize them.

“A garage sale simply means selling unwanted stuff [it could be new] in your garage or yard and it’s generally not about the profit,” she said.

Inge said that she was happy with the progress of the group and expected that more would follow in her footsteps.

“It is still a challenge educate people. Some members have contacted me and asked if I could send the items to their addresses, but I explain that they have to come to the event and get the items themselves, this is not an online store,” she explained.

“People should know that going to garage sales is fun,” Inge said, adding that one of her dreams was that Jakarta would someday have a regular Sunday flea market where people would have more options than the mall.


  © 2010

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