WATCH: Last-minute rush to buy school uniforms before first bell of 2019 rings

2019-01-08 15:29
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The last-minute rush to buy school uniforms ahead of the start of the 2019 school year began in earnest on Tuesday morning with scores of parents queuing outside a popular uniform store in the Johannesburg CBD.

By 05:30, several parents were already waiting outside Ramesh Daya's Lee Family Outfitters – one of many stores consumers flocked to – situated in Commissioner Street.

Two hours later, the queue was behind the store in Fox Street, which is close to the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court. But people continued to join the line.

"Our normal trade hours are 8:30 to 17:00, but today we opened at 8:00," Daya told News24. 

Shoppers described the shop as their "favourite" and said their children's schools referred them there.

READ: School uniforms mean equality, not sameness

Only 10 customers are allowed to enter the store at once. Others have to wait outside for their turn.

First in line was Joyce Radebe, 61, from Emdeni, Soweto. The pensioner arrived at the shop armed with a list of items to buy for her grandson, who is starting Grade 1 on Wednesday at Ebuhleni Primary School in Emdeni.

"I wanted to be the first one in the line. I don't want to stand for too long in the queue. I hope all the things I want I will find them. His father is not around, hence I am here. I am excited that my grandson is beginning school.

"I wish God will spare me until I see him graduate and be independent to fend for himself," she said.

Behind her was Anna Moloi, who arrived almost at the same time as her.

Moloi was there to buy a uniform for her child, who is starting Grade 6 at Bapedi Primary School in Diepkloof, Soweto.

"I hope that I will find everything I am looking for. This shop has been rated the best by my child's new school. I was told that it sells cheaper and quality clothing," she said.

Expensive uniform

Seipati Sebitso said she bought from the shop because it was cheaper.

"In 2017, I ordered uniform from the school and was sent from pillar to post. It took almost the entire year before my child could get a uniform, whereas I had paid in full," Sebitso said.

Dodo Mohatle said he bought almost everything he wanted at half the price he would have paid at the school and at high-end stores.

"A jersey cost over R250 somewhere while here it's R180. A tunic is R500 and here it is under R350. I am saving a lot and have spare change to buy other items such as stationery. Again, all the uniforms here come with school badges, where elsewhere we must buy those emblems separately and take them to a seamstress to be stitched on the uniform," he said.

'We sell quality items'

"We ensure that we sell quality items to our customers. My customers know that this store is catering for all that they need. This time of the year is very critical because children have to be in school fully clothed in their beautiful uniforms," said shop owner Ramesh Daya.

He said his shop catered for Soweto, Johannesburg and neighbouring areas.

"On Monday, we closed after 6pm because the queue was long. I don't want to disappoint my customers. I want to go back home happy having found everything they are looking for.

"We started preparing our stock in September last year. We order highly specialised stuff from our suppliers," he said.

Daya said the family business built a large following because it provides quality garments at an affordable price. 

"We started preparing our stock in September last year. We order highly specialised stuff from our suppliers," he said.

December and January are the busiest months for the shop.

As midday approached, the queue outside the shop showed no signs of shortening despite Daya and his team's round-the-clock service. 

"For now there is no lunch break - just have a bite on the run."

He said doors would only close once everyone had been helped. 

Over more than two years, the Competition Commission has been investigating schools' appointment of exclusive suppliers, which often left parents with pricey bills to pay.

Last year, governing bodies federation Fedsas urged schools involved in the practice to reach settlement agreements with the commission.

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