The instinct for survival has made people discover various ways of making ends meet. Ever since street trading had been controlled through the activities of the Lagos State Sanitation Agency and the pulling down of affordable stalls in the neighbourhood for malls, people have moved a step further in ensuring that they earn a living through trading as such, vehicles which were once considered luxuries have become means of livelihood. This has advanced from the typical vehicles laden with speakers hawking traditional herbal medicine across the streets.
The rate at which people are rendered jobless has increased sporadically because of the economy downturn in the country and, like the proverbial rod in the hands of Moses, they have to start with what they have. Many of the things that are left with to start working with include their cars, refrigerators, devices and some other household items. The social media has been of great value, lately, in the emergence of many entrepreneurs.
Lagos, the commercial city of Nigeria, has a population of over 21 million residents and the residents have various needs which has to be purchased at every slight opportunity because of the hustling and bustling nature of the city, as such, they have reasons to seek for the fastest way of purchasing food items; clothing amongst others.
Virtually all the neighbourhoods in Lagos are filled to the brim, people troop out in thousands on a daily basis heading to work; looking for work and they provide one service or the other. Like the lyrics of the late Afrobeat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Lojo Monday, Eko oni gbagba ku gba, literally meaning, the city would not take nonsense on a Monday but it should be changed now to, lojo kijo, Eko oni gbagba ku gba meaning Lagos would not take nonsense on a daily basis.
While trying to do a quick research on the sales made from one neighbourhood to another. I discovered that there are various demography across the state and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a Vehicle Stall Limited (VSL) would have done the analysis of the potential clientele before embarking on the business. There are peculiarities in their needs and the only route to profit is to create the supply for the customers’ demands. The Vehicle Stall Limited opens from late afternoon till late in the night and it is dependent on the type of product that people sell.
Various vehicle brands have been useful in the sales of various items at numerous points with high foot-traffic. Some of the notable brands are Toyota Camry, 96 model; Toyota Camry 99 model; Toyota Camry 2004 model; Mercedes Benz popularly called V-Boot. Others are Toyota Sienna, buses brands like Mitsubishi and notably are Ford brands. These brands are known to be very spacious and many items can be sold in it.
Popular items sold in vehicles include baked items like bread; prepared food amongst others. These serves dual purposes- it can be used for dinner and at times, it can be used for breakfast. There is a particular young man, who is a known face at the Alapere Estate junction, Ketu where he parks his bus to sell various delicacies to people who are returning from work. From our findings, he has a restaurant in the neighborhood and in the evenings, he has another target audience for his food. Asides this, there are those who sell both new and tokunbo items, the choice of either depends on the affordability. Many VSL sell portable electronics, books, toys for children, undies, clothes among others.
Other items sold by VSL are sandals and shoes; for instance, in Computer Village, Ikeja. Shoes are arranged on all sides of a parked car and people make their purchases. The shoes are arranged on the roof of the car; by the doors; on the bonnet of the car. In fact, during this rainy season, they have extremely large protective polythene bags to cover their wares.
The most interesting of it all was seen at the popular Allen Avenue, The CEO of a VSL was seen arranging her various brands of gin and other alcoholic drinks around 7pm. These products are for the ladies of the night and their patrons, the confident with which she was seen arranging all these wares showed that she had made good profits from the business.
It was noted that some brands too have joined in making sales via van through their distributors. A branded vehicle was seen on Aladelola Street, Ikosi, Lagos selling various items produced by a company. This showed that the mobile stall idea initiated by a bold entrepreneur has given insight to big brands on the new way of making sales.
While trying to sample the opinion of people about the growing trend in buying from VSL, the respondents fell into three categories- those who buy a single product largely bread; some who had bought two types of products such as bread and shoes and those who had not explored it at all. For those who has bought bread, it is a processed and package food which is brands; as such, the seller would not have introduced any new thing to it. For the person who had ventured to buy a pair of sandals, he got it at a better rate and it served the same purpose of intent.
Vehicle manufacturers need to create models to meet the need of the Nigerian business community as this has gone beyond create buses with empty room but creating vehicles with shelf that would allow these people to optimize the vehicle. Also, it would reduce the rate at which artisans and technicians deface vehicles. As for the VSL, there is a need for them to ensure that they dispose waste appropriately and they should synergize to create an advocacy team till they become an acceptable business venture. That was how containers became an acceptable place for offices, event centres and many more. Government should not see these set of people as another set of victims to hound but as people to encourage for contribute to the GDP of the economy.