Informal Glenwood #2: The Story of a Broom
Glenwood’s informal vendors provide both convenience and savings for residents. In order to spotlight these unsung and often maligned contributions, the Glenwood Collective will be interviewing local individuals active within the informal sector. Check back weekly for a new profile and an ongoing conversation about how we can be a stronger and more inclusive community.
This week we focus on the ubiquitous broom seller. We all have them in our house, but where do these brooms come from and how are they made? Meet Eric, he’s from Inanda and has been selling brooms outside of the Genwood Woolworths since 2005. He makes all of the brooms he sells and has given the Glenwood Collective an insight into the process.
GC: Where do these brooms come from?
Eric: I make all of my brooms myself. Normally, I will take one day of the week, make a bunch at once, and then spend the rest of the week selling them.
GC: How many can you make in a day?
Eric: Usually around 30.
GC: What are they made from?
Eric: The handles are made from gum trees (eucalyptus), which grows in Inanda and I cut and shape myself. The bristles are made from a type of grass called ilala, which grows in the rural areas. I buy that in Inanda from people who cut it and sell it. I cut it to right length and secure it to the handle with wire.
GC: Is ilala used for anything else?
Eric: Yes, its also used to make these baskets. These were made by my sister, they usually take about 2-3 days each to make. That’s why they are more expensive than the brooms.
GC: Your family is also involved in broom making?
Eric: Yes my whole family does it. That’s how I learned, from watching other people. Some of my other family members make brooms that get sent up to Johannesburg to be sold.
GC: Do you make brooms for other broom-sellers to sell?
Eric: No, they make their own. Each broom-seller usually produces for himself, and has his own technique.
GC: Why should someone buy one of your brooms rather than one from the shop?
Eric: Because the brooms that I sell are made from natural materials- no plastic. When it wears out you don’t have to feel bad for tossing it. Also you’re helping to support small businesses like my family, brooms have supported us for many years now.