I have become Rio de Janeiro's newest dealer, but it's not what you think.
A couple of foreigner women have shown up at my apartment. Due to their schedules and such, I have met them in front of my building where we make the exchange. It's a very 'Do you the have money because I have the stuff' kind of situation. FYI, I only work with cash.
The stuff, used baby gear. I have become a hoarder of all things baby and American. I just can't help it. Call me cheap, resourceful, and maybe a bit crazy but this stuff is like gold! I refuse to pay the inflated Brazilian prices and have planned my purchases abroad accordingly! Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks this way.
Foreigners as far as Leblon have ventured to the other side of the tracks to purchase these reasonably priced and delicately used items. While no Brazilians have taken a bite, foreigners have jumped on it. I'm starting to see a dolce de leite vs peanut butter kind of preference here.
Honestly though, I am amazed with this cultural difference. Brazilians do not like to buy things used. Sure Mercado livre (a Brazilian Amazon-ish site) is alive and well, but that is not the general public. There have been a couple of used baby gear stores in my neighborhood that have crashed and burned in months.
Brazilians will use their own stuff to death but what they accept used is very limited. Hell, I haven't had one person here say they have some old clothes from their kids to give to us but I have received bags from friends every single time I go back for a visit.
Foreigners are just different. If it's an item that your kid is going to use for a year top, why pay the crazy prices at Lojas Americanas! We'll take just about anything, clean it up, and put it in our house. Just look at garage sales. If you really think about it, it's a kind of creepy practice.
But things are different here. It is much more common to give your used items to your maid or doorman than to offer them to a friend. Why give things to someone who has the money to buy them themselves? I also find that middle class Brazilians are a smidgen paranoid when it comes to cleanliness. The fact that I was expected to iron my baby's clothes to "sterilize" them was beyond my comprehension. First, I don't think sterilization works like that. Secondly, if I don't even iron my clothes it's just best for baby to get into the program from birth. I wouldn't want him to expect things that just aren't going to happen.
And don't even get me started on Mr. Rant and his not sitting on things in street clothes issue! Street clothes? Who says that?!
It begs me to ask, is buying used vs new a cultural habit that is based on our home country's socioeconomic status? Or are we foreigners a bit dirty and cheap and are Brazilians selectively OCD?