Women across Saudi Arabia are turning their homes into clothes and beauty shops — and are becoming a threat to conventional market shops in the kingdom.
The home-based shops offer women a selection of clothes, jewelry, accessories, cosmetics, and perfumes. Some even sell small pieces of furniture.
The cheaper prices and ability to deal with saleswomen have attracted many Saudi women to the home shops, and markets are feeling the pinch.
Unlike traditional shops, home shops do not pay for import permits and are not subject to customs because the women import the items as personal belongings. This means they can be sold at just a little above cost.
Imports by market shops are for commercial use and additional taxes are charged by the state. To cover import costs and make a profit, shops need to mark up prices.
Market shops have called on government officials to put a stop to the home-based shops or impose on them the same rules and regulations as the market shops.
The home-based shops began popping up for different reasons. Some woman said husbands or fathers did not allow them to work and the alternative was to work out of the home. Uneducated women found that home-based shops provide a source of income higher than the jobs available for uneducated women. But women with university degrees also opted for home shops after being unable to get jobs in their fields.
Home-based shops have proven to be successful and many women, after gaining experience and customers, moved on to open licensed shops outside the home. Lamia Hassan, a university economics graduate who runs a home-based shop in Jeddah said she is considering moving her business outside the house.
Hassan first thought of the home-based shop while traveling in a European country. She said she noticed that prices were much cheaper in the manufacturing country than in Saudi Arabia. She decided to buy extra dresses and try to sell them to neighbors back in Saudi Arabia for a little profit. The venture was a success.
Some, like Tahani Ahmed took their home shop a step further. Ahmed began making house visits to market her inventory. She established a relationship with the high society women who preferred to have the saleswoman come to them.
Whatever the method, home-based shops have become the latest trend in Saudi society. – (Albawaba-MEBG)