Nyamweya is a columnist with a Kenyan print media.He is also a freelance writer with various online and offline media platforms
Shop keeping and ownership at the village is not for the faint-hearten. Here, you will get all manner of customers, some of who will threaten to be-witch you if you don’t give them goods on credit. Besides, the many customers who only want to buy on credit yet they have no income sources better explains why shelves of many village shops are always empty. Here are ten characters you will come across at the village shop.
Whenever he visits the shop, he is keen looking at the stock levels and asks the shopkeeper why the shop is almost empty. The chap will also demand to know why the shopkeeper has brought in a full packet maize flour yet the local people are used to mill flour. If what the customer want is Jam and the shopkeeper doesn’t have it, he will demand why he hasn’t stocked it yet and when he intends to bring it.
The credit Customer
This customer always buys goods on credit and tells the shop owner to sell her on credit. She normally relies on her children who are in Nairobi and other towns to clear the debt at the end of the month. Since they always don’t have cash, they have to wait for other customers to finish buying before they engage the shopkeeper when there is nobody around to hear their predicaments.
The threats customer
Unlike the credit customer above, this one always issues threats if the shop attendant refuse giving her whatever she needs on credit. Although she may not in any way be related to the shop owner, you will hear her say, "this child we raised now wants us to sleep hungry", she will threaten the shopkeeper. The shop owner will be forced to give the old mama what she wants out of fear of being cursed or bewitched for that matter. Woe unto her if she demands for debt clearance from her.
She normally comes to the shop only to engage the shopkeeper with endless village stories. Most of the time, she is even obstructing other customers some of whom wants to buy on credit but find it hard since she is obstructing them. She is always conversant with the on goings in the village and the locals have even tagged her, the CNN reporter. She knows whose daughter was chased away by her husband and for what reason, whose son is in Nairobi and doesn’t send anything back home and which couple quarreled overnight.
The loaded customer/ Village tycoon
This customer is always loaded and buys things in bulky. He is the village tycoon and owns several motocycle rides plying local routes besides being in the CDF kitty board. If he doesn’t find enough stock in the shop or the shop owner tells him that what he wants is not immediately available, he will tell him or her off and demand the shop to be closed until more stocks are added. Most of the time, he hires one of the motorcycles to ferry his goods to his home.
She always complains why the price of goods has gone up and why the government is mistreating Kenyans for high taxation. When told the price of Unga has gone up by $10, she will start lamenting and claim that they will move to another country altogether. She will blame the government of the day for abetting corruption and disrupting economy which has culminated to high cost of living.
The secret crash
There is this customer who is crashing on the shopkeeper and regularly visits the shop not to buy but to have a chat with him. Whenever you go to the shop to purchase some goods, you will always find this lady chatting with the shop attendant who is single. Even some men have a crash on married shop attendants and they will visit the shop just because of them.
Most customers at the village shop are mainly the locals who are well known by the shop owner or attendants. However, there is this one who comes from nowhere and nobody has ever seen her or him anywhere around the village. She mostly speaks in fluent swahili as she doesn’t know the local language leaving people around the shop inquiring who she could be and where she could have come from.
The informal supplier
This one, usually an addict for local brew is regular at the shop not to buy but to sell items to the shop owner at cheap prices. There is a high probability that the eggs which he sells at 5 bob each are not his but he may have gotten them through unscrupulous means. The chap can even bring a brand new bar shop which he stole from his wife and sell to the shopkeeper through backdoor means.
The shop hopper
He doesn’t care about setting up a good relation with one shopkeeper by being a regular but hops from shop to shop in the locality. If he buys from this shop today, then tomorrow or another day, he will move to another shop. In fact, he is known by every shopkeeper in the area as he doesn’t stick in one shop. Trouble starts when he wants to buy things on credit as the shop owner will tell him “you are not my regular customer so how can I lend you”?