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Why watch repairers are finding the going tough

With most people opting to check time on their mobile phones, staying in business has been tough for watch dealers.

Luthuli Avenue, which was synonymous with watch dealers and repairers, is now filled with mobile phone sellers.

Gideon Gatambi, a watch dealer, blamed the introduction of mobile phones and hawkers for their plummeting revenues.

“After buying a watch from a hawker at Sh100, it is usually hard to convince clients to spend an additional Sh80 for its battery,” he said, adding that things got so bad that he had to seek alternative ways of generating income to put food on the table.

“I work as a tout on some days and when the matatu business is not doing well, I go back to my watch venture,” said Gatambi. His father, Paul Njagi who mentored him, runs the business in his absence in spite of his poor eyesight .

Njagi said he had been operating on Luthuli Avenue for the past 35 years, and had taken a back seat lately to allow his son to run the business. 

There are close to 10 watch repairers who said they preferred the street because of its popularity.

“Visitors who come to Nairobi know that Luthuli Avenue is the place where they can get genuine watch repairs. We are even listed in the Yellow Pages,” said James Kuria.

Kuria, who has been repairing watches for the past 36 years, said though business had been doing badly in recent years, he had learnt to things one day at a time. 

“I am aged but I still have to survive, so I have got to hang on and be strong in spite of the challenges,” he said.

He is optimistic that his business will remain relevant for years to come as there are individuals who cannot do without a wrist watch.