Of all the master business classes that I ever had. And I have had many. None of them stick in my head than that came out of Tank Bulbulia.
Do not get me wrong this in no way diminish what I learned from Philemon Makgetha; Makana Tshabalala; Peter Springit; Chris Ball; Morita Sun of Sony and many others.
I went to high school with Tank’s daughter Fatima and his late son Simod (May his soul rest in peace).
Tank was a great pioneer of Fitas, a place near Braamfontein railway Station in an area we call Fordsburg today. This is an area where Sharif Khan ruled and the late Scara Sono (Jomo Sono’s father) held court. No self-respecting criminal dare do anything silly without paying homage to these gentlemen.
When the Oriental Plaza was established, the Nationalists Party had to consult with Tank and his committee before anything can happen. This was to enforce the Group Areas Act. What is funny is that most of the houses in Fitas were demolished but not Tank’s house and the Mosque two blocks away. Word has it that the bull dozers ran out of diesel and they would return later to finish the job, from 1956 till today.
Please allow me to digress and tell you a little bit about Sharif Khan. A tall man who resembles a village’s Black Smith but always in a double breasted suit and a slim tie.Mr.Kharn never worked for anybody or owned a store or anything but always well dressed and loaded with cash. “Die was a Outie” self-made a ‘Gosha’……..One of the best compliments I was ever paid was that I was a ‘Gumsha’.Knowing the origin of this descriptive term made me very proud to wear this label. Let me let you inn on a little “township” secret. A ‘Gumsha’ is an independent person who makes his way in this world. Never bowing to the status quo.He makes his own rules but only obeys the Laws of God. Many man made laws do not apply to him. Very often he is the go to guy and will solve most problems. He is the Godfather without a gun..!
Anyway, I was still telling you about Tank. One afternoon, after I had watched my weekly Chinese 12:30 show at Starlight Cinema in President street, I went past the Oriental Plaza to visit Mrs Bulbulia,Tank’s wife ,whom I had grown fond of. Who by the way made the best samoosas’ in town. Now, there is nothing like Mrs.Bulbulia’s samoosas’ and a Fanta Orange or Grape after watching a violent Chinese movie with sub-titles Nothing.
That weekend The Bulbulias were running ‘Buy One-Get One Free’ on Stasky jeans for R16.99.
This is at the time when Staskey jeans cost you R20-00 each anywhere in Johannesburg, Germiston or Pretoria……So after my samosa feast, I try a pair on and I was politely told that I should take the pair home for free.
My head was now spinning, not only do they sell Staskey for a bargain I had to take one home free.
As a good Cristian –boy I thanked the Bulbulias multi-fold and headed home.
One thing kept bugging me as to how they did it? As a student of business and business structures and formulas, I had to know how they got the ‘Buy one-Get one Free’ right.
I later returned and bought stock for resale at a discounted Mac-Price which went lower and lower every week where for R20 I got four pairs. I would them resell them for R9.99 each making myself a cool 100% return for my trouble. When “Bang Bang “jeans hit town I was a jean king in the township and also took lay-byes. 5liters of petrol was just under one pound so life was good.
So as years went by I plugged enough courage to as Tank how he did the trick? Oh he said….I have a great relationship with the manufacture and I buy ….All His Rejects for R1…….a pair!
He is very grateful to me that I clean up all his stock.
The penny dropped so loud in my head it was as if I was inside the Big Ben Towers of London.
The second trick that Tank tough me had to do with biscuits .This is where he resold what he bought for the buyer to resell to his other customers.
I will not bore you with the details of this one so far as to say: What a Master Class from Tank!
(This piece is dedicated to the Bulbulias whose hospitality and love never changed till now.To all my friends in Fordsburg Haniff;Dawood and all the Ouens I say sweet by you.May the Almighty bless you and your children for all you did for me!)