Bring it with you or get it here?

If it's available, and if you have the patience to search long and hard enough, and provided you're willing to pay the asking price (though Ghanaians expect you to haggle, so feel free), you really can get almost anything you want here. Keep in mind that the item you find in Accra may not be the exact brand, quality, colour, or style that you want, so you may need to be very flexible in this regard. And although an item may be available somewhere within Accra, because of limited availability you may have to shop at a number of places – not necessarily near each other – without any guarantee that the item will be in stock when you arrive. With the new, larger and more comprehensive retail developments that are sprouting up regularly, the availability of higher quality, inexpensive goods is increasing.

Personal hygiene items (e.g., cosmetics, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and feminine hygiene products) for instance, may not be the brand you're used to, and you may pay much more than you'd like for them, but they are generally available. Similarly, housewares (e.g., pots and pans, knives, dishes, plastic containers, lamps, kitchen trash cans, etc.) and toys can be purchased, but they are usually expensive and/or of inferior quality. Moreover, although Accra has many clothing boutiques, the prices, selection, and quality of the clothing in these boutiques vary widely. Also, you may not find the same styles or selection of ready-made clothing and underwear that you'd buy at home. Made-to-order clothing sewn by a local seamstress or tailor is usually very reasonable in price and a good alternative.

A rule to live by in Ghana is if you see something you think you may need some day, buy it now, because tomorrow it may be gone (or at the very least be more expensive!). "It's finished" is a phrase you will no doubt hear time and time again.

If there are certain items that you absolutely cannot live without, e.g. certain non-perishable food, coffee beans/grounds, toiletries, cleaning products, pet supplies, or underwear, etc., bring them with you.

On a positive note, there are many locally produced items you can't find elsewhere. Colourful Ghanaian wax prints are inexpensive, and can be made into clothing and cushion covers at reasonable cost.

Kente cloth, the beautiful woven fabric known throughout the world, on the other hand, is not inexpensive, but it is a worthwhile investment. Shoes and sandals are handmade in Accra for low prices. Local cobblers import leather from Italy, but some of the colours and other materials used for making a shoe (or copying a shoe you have a photo of or already own) are somewhat limited. It is a very good idea to bring prototypes or photographs of clothing and shoes you'd like to be made for you, rather than trying to describe it to the tailor or cobbler – there is often a lot lost in translation.

In addition, locally made rattan and wooden furniture, wrought iron plant stands and furniture, as well as ceramics and pottery are available at roadside stands and stores in a number of locations around Accra. Most of these artisans are willing to make custom designed pieces. Again, show them a picture or provide the dimensions or a comprehensive description of the piece you are looking for and they'll make it for you for a reasonable price (remember, haggle!). Also, baskets and other locally made crafts, such as beads, wood carvings, and other decorative items made in Ghana and other parts of Africa, are widely available at a range of quality and prices.

Read more about Shopping, availability and tips on bargaining in our Shopping Section.

Last modified on Monday, 13 May 2013 20:54
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