There comes a time in every bookworm’s life when they realize they have way too many books on their shelves. Throwing them away will never be an option, of course. So it boils down to two solutions: either sell them or donate them.
If book owners are really picky, they’d want to see where their books end up if they give it away; more like curiosity—who will the next owner be? So they want to sell their books. But the question is, where?
After a few hours of Google search, the results for second-hand selling opportunities are grim, and you’re stuck with your haul until a better solution is found.
Surprisingly, for Abu Dhabi bookworms, the solution presented itself in the form of a charity initiative called the Moving Souq. “It’s a garage sale concept, which isn’t widely known here in Abu Dhabi,” explains Latifa Al Romaithi, the organizer of the event.
So why was it called the Moving Souq?
“We didn’t want to settle on one location for the event when it happens next time. We want the souq to happen at different venues, hence the Moving Souq,” she said. And of course, souq means market in Arabic.
The idea was for interested vendors to gather at the designated location set by organizer and sell second-hand items, such as book, DVDs, clothes, or even their own hand-made products.
Latifa wanted the Moving Souq to have an ambitious beginning, and as one might expect, a lot of planning went into it. “We did a survey to see whom we should target, and who was more familiar with the garage sale concept,” she said. She found that while garage sales were not a familiarity with Emiratis, they showed interest in the initiative.
A twitter and e-mail account were created to spread the word, and family members helped as well, said the 21-year old. “There were problems in the preparations,” she admitted. For one, an approval was needed for a public event like the souq, and until they received that approval, public advertising was restricted. “We received the approval on the week of the event. People were telling me I should postpone it, but I wanted to have it on that day,” explained Latifa.
Despite the restriction, that week saw a lot of calls from interested vendors, almost six calls in one day.
The day Latifa was set for the Moving Souq debut was Thursday, November 24. The venue: right at the centre of Khalifa Park. Twenty-seven vendors paid for the tables to display their products, and that money goes to charity. Whatever money they made from selling is theirs to keep. The tables, some clothed, some not, were arranged in a rotund area. Behind them, on a wide patch of grass, a big group of women set up a picnic, mothers and cousins of the vendors who’ve come for moral support. A bouncing castle was also set up for the children. “The first day was very family oriented,” recalled Latifa.
It wasn’t only because the families of the sellers were there, but because there was a sense of camaraderie and a supportive atmosphere among the sellers themselves. The arrangement drew in curious passer-bys, and some even bought items, such as dolls, clothes and books. Buyers, true to the environment of how a market works, haggled and chatted, providing endless entertainment to those selling for the first time.
Barely before the souq came to a close, an unplanned decision was made: that the souq be open the next day as well.
“Because it wasn’t planned, we had 20 vendors on Friday, but there were more buyers that day,” Latifa said.
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, despite the difficulties faced at the beginning. “Most of what we heard back from people was that we should have advertised more, and we had to explain the circumstances,” she said. Others hoped that the event would happen again, and soon.
The trial of the first event already gave Latifa ideas of how to improve the next Moving Souq. “I’ve learned a lot from this event, and now I know how to go about things,” she said confidently.
As for this bookworm, there’s still half a box of books waiting to be sold at the next Moving Souq—the upcoming Emirati initiative to keep an eye on.
The second Moving Souq is set to be in March.
For more information on Moving Souq, follow their Twitter account @MovingSouq
– Asma Al Jeelani