Open-air markets bolster Beijing's street vending economy

Sellers get a fair chance to do brisk business as the lively atmosphere draws shoppers young and old

By CUI JIA | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-02-15 08:17
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A visitor gets a taste of the market. WEI XIAOHAO/CHINA DAILY

Li Yang, an undergraduate student at Beihang University, said the Shahe Market is popular among university students as well."Getting up early on a winter morning to attend classes is so hard, but getting up early to go to the market for a hearty breakfast is fairly easy," he said.

After breakfast, Li and his classmates often throw a challenge to see how many things they can buy at the market for 100 yuan.

"I once struck a great bargain — I bought three long-sleeve tops and two pairs of sweatpants for 100 yuan. My friends said the clothes look just as chic as those sold by top international brands. When they visited the market the following week, the vendor was no longer there. I believe that's why this market is so much fun," the 21-year-old said.

Open-air markets have mushroomed around the city over the past year after the Beijing municipal government decided to support the development of street vending economy, said Liu Hong, a regular vendor at such markets.

The 42-year-old, who sells baked buns with shredded braised pork, has been doing brisk business in three to four open-air markets each week in Beijing's Changping and Shunyi districts. "As different markets are held on different days, I can find one to sell my buns each day of the week if I want to."

Liu, who is from Hebei province, had a small restaurant in Beijing where he sold his baked buns, noodles and soup. Business took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic and he couldn't pay the rent for the restaurant space. He had no choice but to shut it down.

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