Early birds catch the discount

(Beijing Today)
Updated: 2008-01-23 09:36

Morning markets, called Zaoshi'e in Chinese, are places where people can shop for various commodities at competitive prices. Such markets first appeared by the north gate of Worker's Stadium and Xibianmen in the 1980s when many laid off workers needed something to do with their days. Later they fanned out across the city with most staying open from early morning to noon. At first, vendors sold only vegetables and fruits though over time, the markets attracted other vendors peddling such things as seafood, pots and bowls.

*Why the markets are popular

The morning markets remain popular today, but their origins go back to the 1980s.

At that time, there were many laid off workers who needed something to do with their days. The markets first appeared by the north gate of Worker's Stadium and Xibianmen, and then fanned out across the city. Most stay open from early morning to noon.Morning markets were set up on each street of each community in each district. As of last year, the city has about 100 morning markets located in its crowded residential areas. At first, vendors sold only vegetables, fruit and similar foods. Over time, the markets attracted vendors peddling sea food, pots and bowls.

The markets quickly grew popular with locals, and during summer, vendors would come to provide snacks and hairdressing services. Generally, making sales was not the order of the day.

The earliness of the morning markets is precisely why they attract so many old people. Generally, the time the markets open is exactly after when they finish their morning exercises. It is a great way for old Beijingers to relax and gossip after morning exercise.

Vegetables and fruits are cheaper than those sold in grocery shops and supermarkets: that is because they are picked by the vendors fresh from their own fields each morning. The markets are also a place open to haggling. Many vendors will throw in some extra produce as a bonus if shoppers buy a lot.

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