I was at the Kigali City Market, touring one floor after another and looking at goods displayed for sale without intending to buy anything.
I entered the building through the back door and found myself in the basement, a partially underground floor namely B 4 which is reserved for parking. The rear entry is four floors lower than the main entrance.
There are more storeys below the ground floor than above it. However, the so called underground floors happen to be beneath the ground on one side of the building and above it on the other side.
One floor down there looks like the old Nyarugenge market that existed before the current complex was constructed. It was on this floor where I started disappointing sellers who were deceived by the attention I was paying to their merchandises.
All major banks and Micro Finance Institutions operating in Rwanda have branches in this mall. In addition, their ATMs and agents are all over the place, giving window shoppers a hard time to come up with excuses not to buy something.
Persuasive vendors working in the building can make you buy something you don’t even need. As I walked around the mall, I bumped into one young entrepreneur who gave me a bold lecture on the importance of supporting the Made in Rwanda campaign by purchasing his locally made products.
B 4 is followed by B 3, B 2 and B 1 in an ascending order. One part of the entire B 1 floor is occupied by pharmacies. This area looks like a designated pharmaceutical zone. I moved faster at this point because there is nothing interesting about paracetamol and aspirin to a window shopper.
Financial institutions dominate the ground floor. As mentioned earlier, this is where the main entrance and exit are found. If you pop into the building through this entrance, you won’t imagine the magnitude of activities going on underneath what looks like the surface of the earth. I didn’t spend a lot of time on this floor because banks protected by armed security guards do not create a conducive environment for window shoppers.
Retailers in clothes, footwear and accessories are busy on the 1st floor. There are also saloons and stalls exhibiting nail polish, Brazilian hair and many other products I had never seen before.
I was approached by a young lady who claimed to have a product that could recover my lost hair. I told her I love my bald head but she had something else in store for me. She introduced me to a new brand of shaving cream and tried to convince me that it’s the best thing man has ever produced.
The second floor is a swarm of tailoring workshops. Here, the sound of whirring machines competes with the music amplified by speakers I was trying to locate all along in vain. I was not able to establish the source of the music played uniformly across all 8 floors. May be Isango Star radio which is in the house, has installed invisible speakers on the walls of each floor.
The top floor is less congested and calmer. A variety of businesses occupy the floor but The Fitness Factory, Kigali Citizen Polyclinic and House of Coffee stand out from the crowd.
The House of Coffee is a popular hang out joint and The Fitness Factory is where fitness is manufactured. The spacious gym is partitioned into two sections — the aerobics hall and the weight room.
When I walked in, one plump woman was walking on the treadmill and a young man was beefing up his biceps at the corner while facing the mirror and looking at the reflection of his own image attentively. Working out in the middle of the day, the two members had the whole gym to themselves. The gym’s radio was on but their ears were covered by headphones.
The trainer on duty was idle. The two gym users seemed to know what to do without his help. They neither needed an instructor nor the complimentary music offered by the facility.
I admired the gym for a minute and proceeded to the smoothie shop and massage rooms. I wasn’t there to buy a cup of smoothie or get a massage. I was still window shopping.
At The Fitness Factory, you can also buy sports bicycles, gym equipment, apparel and vitamin supplements. Coincidentally, I found good workout gloves I had been planning to buy for a while.
On my way out of the gym, I saw the plump woman stepping on the scale. She looked like she was expecting to have lost a ton of weight after walking on the treadmill for ten minutes.
My window shopping plans were derailed by the gym gloves I badly needed. You will never walk away from this mall without buying something. If you leave your car in the basement parking lot, you will be charged for the space it occupies. The amount depends on the duration of your stay. In one way or another, you will contribute to the Kigali City Market economy.