The weekly clothing market in Kishoreganj's Bhairab Bazar, which sits on the footpath, has become a trading hub for buyers and sellers from the surrounding districts with a business of Tk5 crore on each market day.
The market has been sitting on every Wednesday for the last 10 years and is popular among wholesale and retail buyers as prices of clothes are comparatively cheaper here than in other places.
Traders say more than a thousand makeshift shops can be found in the market near the bank of the Meghna River each week selling all kinds of clothes, including sari, lungi, towel, shirt, t-shirt, and fatwa.
Wholesalers mostly from Narsingdi, Narayanganj and Dhaka start coming to the market a day before and sell products at 10 pm-12 pm Wednesday. But retail sales start from Wednesday morning and last till night.
The market authorities said most buyers in the market come from Kishoreganj, Narsingdi and Brahmanbaria districts. Each wholesaler can sell clothes worth Tk50,000-60,000 each week. Some traders even sell clothes worth more than Tk1 lakh. Retailers sell clothes worth Tk15,000-Tk20,000.
Many wholesale buyers also buy clothes from the market and sell them in shops in their area, they mentioned.
Sujan Mia, cloth merchant from Kuliyarchar, Kishoreganj, said, "I have a shop in the village market in Kuliarchar where there is a high demand for saris, lungi and towels. It costs more to procure them from Dhaka or Narayanganj. That is why I come to Bhairab Bazar where the price is relatively cheaper. Besides, I can easily transport the products from here through both roads and waterways."
Delwar Hossain, employee of Siam Fashion and Baby Collection in Dhaka, said, "Many garment products of the company have remained unsold due to the pandemic. We are now selling them in the markets of different areas. Hearing about the clothes market in Bhairab Bazar, I have come here to sell clothes. Last week, we sold clothes worth Tk30,000."
Shukkur Mia, clothing merchant from Raipura, Narsingdi, said, "I have been coming to this market for a long time. I buy clothes from the wholesalers and sell them at retail prices. I can sell products worth Tk10,000 to Tk12,000 every week."
Another businessman Md Fahim said, "I bring clothes from Narayanganj and sell them at wholesale and retail prices. Clothes worth an average of Tk50,000 are sold from my shop every week. Among them, clothes of small children and girls are mostly sold."
Local businessmen say that the Bhairab Municipality leases the market for one year. Currently, it is leased for Tk1.6 crore (including VAT and tax). The wholesalers and retailers have to pay charges for setting up shops in the market.
Milad Hossain Apu, representative of Bhairab Bazar's leaseholder, said, "The market had to be closed for several months due to the pandemic. Now, it is slowly returning to the previous state. Depending on the size of the shop, wholesalers are charged Tk300-500 and retailers Tk100-200. Besides, we take necessary measures on all issues including security of traders who come to the market."
Humayun Kabir, president of the Bhairab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, "The market has grown in size over the last three to four years. The number of traders in the market is increasing day by day. They are coming to the market because the traders are making profit. Especially during the winter season and the two Eid festivals, the market is much busier."
Iftekhar Hossain Benu, mayor of Bhairab Municipality, said, "Other businesses in the market face some problems as the weekly clothing market sits on the footpath. The place becomes overcrowded with a large number of buyers and sellers. The cloth market is sitting inside the market as there is no alternative place in the municipal area."