A swirling overhead fan brings little comfort to Imran Hasan Joy as beads of sweat drip from his forehead. He is locked in heated negotiations with customers as they stream into his shop in droves.
Jayer is familiar with the seemingly overwhelming rush of customers, which happens once every four years when the football World Cup is around the corner. But this year, the demand for jerseys is higher than usual, according to the shopkeeper.
"The market is very hot this time. The demand is so high that it's difficult for suppliers to keep pace with it," said Jayer, who works at Joy Sports at the Gulistan Shopping complex.
Unsurprisingly, the colours of Argentina and Brazil are flying off the shelves ahead of football's showpiece event in Qatar. But customers are also showing a greater interest in the jerseys of other nations participating in the World Cup and as a result, shopkeepers like Jayer are feeling the heat.
With the tournament now just days away, many shopkeepers in Dhaka's New Market, Mouchak Market, Mohakhali and Farmgate are struggling to find a moment's respite. The excitement of football enthusiasts can also be felt in shops that sell flags, where last-minute demand has driven up prices.
Shopkeepers at the wholesale market in Gulistan and its surrounding stores are now selling jerseys at retail prices in hopes of cashing in on the World Cup mania.
Argentina's iconic blue and white jersey and flags are topping sales, with Brazil's famous yellow kit hot on its heels, according to traders. The jerseys of European heavyweights Germany, France and Portugal are also in demand.
Dhaka University students Imrul Farhan and Arafat Yasin were buying jerseys at Chandpur Sports Shop in Gulistan. One of them bought a Brazilian jersey while the other was trying on the kit of arch-rivals Argentina.
“I have been supporting the Argentina football team since my childhood. The current team is awesome and I'm confident that they'll bring the trophy home," said Imrul, prompting a quick retort from Arafat.
"Argentina won't win. Brazil are quiet this time because we know those who laugh last laugh longest," said a bullish Arafat.
Shohag Ghazi, the manager of Chandpur Khela Ghar, said he was enjoying the banter between rival fans, more so as his sales are strong.
“It's good that everyone comes and engages in arguments about their favourite teams. The World Cup happens every four years and our business booms during those periods. The customers are also in high spirits."
Almost all the jerseys at SB Sports, a shop in Gulistan Shopping Complex, have been sold, according to its owner Shahjahan Bhuiyan. A fresh batch is now on the shelves alongside caps and hats.
“I have the jerseys of almost every nation here. However, Brazil and Argentina jerseys are the most popular. Germany also has many supporters. The sales of the other jerseys are low so we're bringing less of them to the store," he said.
Outside the Gulistan market, the sidewalk shops are also teeming with customers. The jerseys may lack in quality but that is offset by the relatively low prices of jerseys which is a big draw for buyers.
Asked about his sales, Dulal Mia, who has lined up the pavement with jerseys, said, "Not everyone can afford expensive jerseys anymore. But everyone will watch the games with the usual fervour. Everyone who buys jerseys from here has the same smile on their faces.”
This year's World Cup has come at the start of winter and that's why full-sleeve jerseys are outselling half-sleeved ones, according to shopkeeper Ashraf Hossain of ABC Fashion Store in Mouchak Market.
Vendors said their jerseys are priced in line with their quality, not the nation it represents. The price of a Brazilian jersey is the same as an Argentina jersey made from the same fabric.
Imran Hasan Joy, a shopkeeper at Joy Sports at the Gulistan Shopping Complex, said most of the jerseys in his shop are 'player editions', with prices ranging between Tk 300-Tk 1,200.
With business booming, customers say the prices of jerseys have surged in the space of a week. Good quality jerseys are being sold at Tk 1,200-Tk 1,400, which cost up to Tk 550 a week ago.
'Fan edition' jerseys are now selling for Tk 700-Tk 1,200, up from Tk 350-Tk 400.
The prices of jerseys made of Thai fabric have shot up from around Tk 350 to Tk 750 during that time.
Many shops around Farmgate sell jerseys for customers at prices ranging from Tk 100-Tk 400.
ONLINE SHOPS GET CREATIVE
Capitalising on the World Cup fever, many online shops have added jerseys to their product list, with the guarantee of quick delivery alongside tempting discounts.
Drawing up a unique concept, an online shop called 'Miah' has brought out the 'FIFA World Cup Fan Edition' of the 'Amanat Shah Lungi' brand. These lungis are designed in the pattern of the flags of Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany, and France.
The flag-themed lungis went viral within a short time of being advertised online.
Asked how the idea came about, Nahid Arefin Reza, the store's business development executive, said, “We always try to do something innovative. The football World Cup takes place every four years. This initiative has been taken for the first time to cater to football lovers."
Nahid said that he received orders for 450,000 lungis within two days of advertising the products online.
“We never thought our product would be so loved by so many people. Our page's inbox is full of messages. The first round of production has already finished and the second round is now underway. The lungis are made from very comfortable linen fabric.”
The Amanat Shah branded lungis are available for Tk 370.
Various online shops are selling scarves, cushions and pillow covers bearing patterns of the flags of the countries competing at the World Cup.