There’s something about The Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki—the last time I went there, August 2016 on a date that quickly morphed into a relationship, I was still taken aback by the gleaming, polished expanse of the place, the slow-walking, perfumed people that were there to shop, and the numerous businesses that lined the interior. You could find anything and everything—electronics, groceries, food, furniture, cinema, game arcade, gift store. And all the shops called out to me, enticing, luring, shiny.

Only recently, upon coming to Lekki to get some quick shopping done, did I notice another mall adjacent to The Palms—a hulking look alike, similar, but without the finished gloss that The Palms has. It was called Lagoon Shopping Centre. I called it competition.

But Lillian, the hairdresser that I met at Radiance Hair and Skin Clinic doesn’t see it that way. “We moved in here because of Shoprite,” she told me, “People who have gone there [The Palms] to look for something and if they don’t find it, they will come here to check … we’re not here for the competition … we have our own products and some of the products we have might be unavailable in Shoprite. We are not in competition with anybody.”

Her diminutive colleague, Samson, however, added that business has been slow since February when they started working. “Sometimes there is traffic here but sometimes there isn’t.”

Stopping by at The Place Restaurant to have a solitary drink, I had a curious chat with Nelson, the supervisor. Discreetly counting a wad of cash behind a counter, he seemed quite unconcerned about the existence of another mall just across the road. At a point, I doubted if he knew Lagoon Shopping Centre even existed. “The Place is a brand on its own” his last words to me, as I ogled at the aisle of pastries and local soups.

Hat Nation, a fashion label that deals in indigenous caps, is the only cap-dealing store in both The Palms and Lagoon. “For now, the competition is yet to come,” Oyinkan, the agreeable salesperson was quick to tell me, “We like the monopoly.”

Mrs. Francis, who runs a gift shop with the name Friendship Gift Store, said she doesn’t think the Lagoon Shopping Centre has been in existence for up to year but she liked its spaciousness, “This has just been given birth to … we moved because of the space and location from Silverbird Galleria.”

Competing businesses are everywhere, from small petty trades lumped closely in markets to the corporate world of commercial banks and communication companies. In the end, the customer still has a right to choose, and having a pool of options has never been a problem.

Photo credit: King Solomon Ekhaiyeme

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