Bandung’s Babe: A Secondhand Shop Without Shame

By webadmin on 11:58 pm Oct 25, 2009
Category Archive

Ade Mardiyati

When you feel like clearing the junk out of your house, think twice about just throwing old items into the trash. Giving things away to friends can be an option, but there’s a way to earn a little extra money by getting rid of clutter.

Located among factory outlets and restaurants on busy Jalan Riau in Bandung, Babe — short for barang bekas (used items) — gives people the option to buy and sell secondhand goods.

Although there are places in the city where people sell used goods on the side of the street, Babe was the first actual shop of its kind when it opened in September 1998.

It all started when Babe’s founder and owner, Irwan Johana, was asked by a friend if he could find a used stereo.

“He then had the idea to open a shop selling only used goods so that people wouldn’t find it difficult to look for them,” said Eko Rahmat, Babe’s head of marketing. “He closed his previous business of distributing VCDs and switched to a completely new one.”

The first items for sale came from the owner, his family and his friends, Eko said. Over the years, more and more people came to Babe to sell their secondhand goods. The store pays the owners of the used goods after a sale has been made.

“Everyone, not only locals, is welcome to leave their belongings here,” Eko said. “We accept anything, except things that need extra care, like plants or pets.”

The shop has thousands of visitors every month.

“Especially during holiday seasons,” Eko said. “We developed a marketing strategy that makes people think that they shouldn’t feel ashamed buying secondhand items.”

Entrepreneur Dawi is a regular at the shop and often comes just to browse.

“[Today] I’m looking for a badminton racket,” the 27-year-old said. “I want to start playing some sports again.”

Dawi said on previous visits to the shop he has purchased a bag, shoes and an exhaust pipe for his car.

“I don’t feel ashamed buying used stuff. It’s the quality that is important,” he said.

For 45-year-old Nurbaya it was her first visit as she eagerly checked out the antiques.

“My husband visits this shop a lot,” she said.

Her husband, Hamdan, who was there with her, said that he once bought a mountain bike for only Rp 400,000 ($42).

“It was quite new, it was really good for that price,” he said.

The items available at Babe range from thermoses to samurai-style swords. There are antiques, watches, wallets, rings, glasses, toys, musical instruments, sports equipment, bags and hundreds of pairs of shoes.

Displays include brand-name items from Ray Ban, Louis Vuitton, Tag Hauer and Adidas. But Eko said the shop can’t guarantee items are originals.

“It is the person who owns the stuff that should give guarantees, and so all matters related to that are left to the person and the buyer,” Eko said. “That also means buyers can’t sue us if anything happens.”

There are now at least two more shops in Bandung offering the same service, Eko said. However, he added, Babe is still the biggest in the business.

“We have always tried to be proactive in getting customers to leave their items here and getting them sold quickly. It’s what makes us better than the others.”