Aba is a well-known clothing and fabric hub in Nigeria, with buyers coming from all over the country. There are only so many things one can buy at Aba markets, and one of the most common items is thrift wear.
Since I’ve lived here, one question I am frequently asked by friends and colleagues is how one can shop in Aba without getting lost in all of its markets. Because it can be difficult to know where to begin in this bustling city, I am sometimes invited to be a second leg or something of the sort.
It is for this reason that I have decided to write a guide to help you navigate one of the major thrift markets in Aba, which specializes in new and secondhand bags and shoes.
School Road Market is a section of Ahia Ohuru (New Market), the main market in Aba for thrift shopping. Whether you’re looking for clothes, shoes, bags, hats, or belts, you’ll find it all here.
You can use the table of contents below to skip to the part of this post that you are interested in.
The Best Days to Shop in School Road Market
School Road Market is open every day, but the best days to go thrift shopping are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Due to the Monday sit-at-home order, which primarily affects markets, the best days to shop are now Tuesdays and Fridays.
This is not to say that if you go on other days, you won’t find something nice. These are just the days when the bales are being opened. It also depends on the vendor. If they sell out all of their bales on peak market days, chances are they will open new bales just to have something to sell the next day. Also, a large percentage of their customers come from outside of Aba; therefore, knowing that they may not get to sell much on the odd market days can also affect this.
You should note that brand-new items are also sold here, so if you are coming to shop for any of those, don’t dwell too much on the market days.
The Best Time to Go Thrift Shopping in Aba
There is no set time for thrift shopping in Aba, but you should try to show up as early as possible. The earlier you come, the better your chances are of getting the best stuff.
However, this also means that you will have to pay more. Someone shopping later in the day may be able to get an item for half the price it was sold for in the morning, but will that item be there waiting for you? You wouldn’t know. You should try to show up anytime between 8 and 10 a.m.
How to Get to School Road Market, Aba
Aba is a very small town where everywhere is close to everywhere. Being a major market in Aba, it is easy to find buses or tricycles (keke napeps) heading in the direction of School Road Market. The main bus stop is Mosque, or Ngwa Road by Mosque, but you will have to stop along the way at School Road.
Be sure to avoid the buses going to Ngwa Road by East. It’s a whole trip from here to your destination.
How to Get to School Road Market From Aba Park
In Aba, there is only one main park, and this is where most public transport entering the city will stop, or at least make a brief stop. This is the city center; if you can find your way to Aba Main Park, you will be able to find transportation to anywhere.
If you’re already here, know that School Road Market is only about five minutes’ drive away. If you’ve just arrived in Aba or are coming from Osisioma, then you’re in the right lane.
Keep an eye out for God’s Protection Filling Station. Once you’ve found it, notice the road beside it; this is called Park Road. Cross over to the other side of it to Goodness and Mercy Motor Park, where you will find keke napeps going to either Ngwa Road or Obohia Road. Ask questions to confirm that they are passing through Mosque, because there are other routes to these places and you want to make sure you can stop along the way at School Road.
This costs N100 at the time of this writing.
How to Get to School Road Market from Ariaria and Tonimas Junctions
Ariaria and Tonimas junctions are the main bus routes. You will find a direct bus to School Road Market from these places without any hassle at all. It’s almost like buses are the only modes of transportation to School Road Market in these two locations.
Buses that load at Ariaria Junction will travel through Faulks Road, Osusu Road, Azikiwe Road, and finally, Clifford Road. If you are coming from any of these locations, you are sure to meet these buses on the way.
Buses that load at Tonimas junction, on the other hand, will travel through Umuocham Road, Umule Road, and finally connect to Faulks Road and the following roads from the route above.
At the time of writing, this costs N200. Depending on where you boarded, you could pay as little as N50–N100.
It is worth noting that Osusu and Okigwe roads are mutually exclusive. The drivers would only go through Okigwe Road if there was traffic or if there were passengers stopping along Okigwe Road and no passengers stopping along Osusu Road. However, if you are coming from Okigwe Road, you can catch a bus or a tricycle along the way, or you can divide your journey in half by stopping first at Park.
How to Get to School Road Market from Port Harcourt Road, Cemetery Market, and Asa Road
There used to be a direct bus route from Flyover to Ngwa Road via Port Harcourt Road until Port Harcourt Road became one of the most damaged roads on the continent. Getting to School Road Market from Port Harcourt Road is now the most expensive and time-consuming of all.
To get to School Road Market from any of these locations, simply make your way to Number One, Ehi Road, or Azikiwe by Asa Road. You can finish the second leg of your journey by taking a tricycle to Ngwa Road by Mosque. Again, ask questions to ensure that a ride is headed in the right direction.
Depending on where you are coming from, this route can cost you anywhere from N100 to N500.
How to Get to School Road Market from Ogborhill
There are always direct tricycles from Ogborhill to School Road Market. I’m not familiar with this part of Aba, so I can’t confirm whether or not there are direct buses from there.
However, it is not a long distance and could cost between N100 and N200.
How to Get to School Road Market from Obohia and Ngwa Roads
If you are coming from these locations, you have nothing to worry about, as these are the major points of origin and destination for the majority of vehicles that pass through School Road Market, with the exception of those making their final stop at Mosque. Simply join a tricycle and stop at School Road Market.
This can cost anywhere between N50 and N300. It can also cost as much as N500 if you decide to ride a bike for part of the journey.
What You Can Buy From School Road Market, Aba
School Road Market sells a wide range of goods, but the most popular items are bags and footwear. Luggage bags, carry-ons, school bags, laptop bags, handbags, and tote bags can all be bought here.
Other items you can buy at School Road Market include underwear, nightwear, clothes, belts, earrings, and foodstuff.
There are also service providers in the market, such as cobblers. If you have a problem with a bag or footwear you bought or want to buy, you don’t have to give up when these guys are here to fix it.
How to Get Around in School Road Market, Aba
School Road Market is, as the name suggests, a roadside market. It isn’t fenced in or secured with a gate. Getting around is as simple as walking through a street.
A section of the market, separated from the main road by a massive gutter, is designated for store owners; this is where the open-space vendors keep their bales. When you can’t find something you are looking for, they can sometimes take you inside the store to show you more. This is not something you ask for; they only do it when they feel like it.
Brand-new handbags and travel bags are also sold in this section. They are displayed all through the walkway, giving one the feeling of being on a tour of an aquarium. Walking through is an exciting experience on its own. You will also spot the cobblers here.
Clothes, underwear, footwear, and belts can be found on the other side of the road. They are not as well hidden as the bag stores across. Cobblers can also be spotted in the alleyway.
The open-space vendors are the ones who ring bells. They will chant a fixed price for their goods, implying that there is no room for bargaining. However, if you buy in bulk, you may be able to get a small discount.
Open-space vendors who do not ring bells are generally more expensive than their counterparts, but if you wear your bargaining hat, you can get a good deal. They usually have nice things hidden beneath their stacks, so bend down and unravel everything.
There are other vendors scattered along the road, and towards the junction is where foodstuff is sold. You can stop by to buy some fresh food if you want.
Things You Should Know Before Shopping at School Road Market, Aba
- You should not bind yourself to a seller because they are not your friend. There are so many options in the market, and you don’t want to look away just because your customer is watching. Everyone is hustling for their own pocket at the end of the day.
- Don’t act like a newbie. When Aba people learn that you are a JJC in town, they will seize any opportunity to exploit you. This isn’t to say you should learn Aba slang or anything; simply buy naturally. Pretend you know the prices of the items you’re looking to purchase. If your guesses are close, they would treat you like an experienced buyer.
- Bargain like your life depends on it. A seller can usually tell you twice the price of an item. Start by halving that price and slowly go up from there. This will make them lower their bars as they try to reach a price that works for them without losing you. Try walking away if they insist.
- Keep your bag close to you and pay close attention to the person standing beside you. There haven’t been many reports of petty theft in this market, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Withdraw your cash before you arrive. Although POS agents are available, network issues and additional charges can be major inconveniences.
- Don’t give up until you find what you’re looking for. There’s no harm in walking from one end of the market to the other and back again and again.
If you would like me to help you buy anything from Aba, you can contact me through my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guide to School Road Market, Aba – FAQs
Can I buy from Aba markets online?
It is possible to buy online, and vendors do not mind sending waybills. However, I do not recommend purchasing thrifts in bulk online. The best and safest option is to have a trusted person shop and send to you.
Can I buy thrifts in Ariaria?
Yes, you most certainly can. However, Ahia Ohuru is the best place in Aba to buy thrift clothing.
Let me know if you have more questions about this market, and I will do my best to answer them.