We are used to seeing Senegalese in Torrevieja selling bags, watches, DVDs etc etc. What we don’t see is the organisation behind these sellers. The eighty or so who are permanently located in the town swell to three times that number in summer and all are controlled by about 12 leaders who take the money and then send back a proportion to Senegal.
The sellers live mostly in Apollo Street; about ten to a house with a rent of 300 euros per month i.e. 30 euros per head.
The goods that they sell come from Chinese warehouses in Elche. They will pay about 3.30 euros for the bags and another 50 cents for the fake logo, the sunglasses cost them 50 cents a pair and the watches cost about 2.5 to 5 USD. On the streets, the bags sell for as much as they can get – 25, 30 or even 50 euros, the sunglasses go for 10 euros a pair and the watches can fetch up to 100 euros from unwary visitors.
Up to about 2 years ago these traders were tolerated but now the police haze a zero tolerance policy. This often leads to violent clashes on the streets.
As I have said before, if nobody bought from these people, they would soon stop trading. However, the lure of a bag of a pair of glasses that have the designer look for a knock down price is too much for many.