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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People enjoy noodles at the Shahe Market in Changping on Jan 7. WEI XIAOHAO/CHINA DAILY

Chen Xiaoyi, 26, who works for an IT company in Beijing, said she loves the market's lively vibe. More importantly, shopping here is affordable and helps her save up money for the future, she said.

Chen first visited the market last May after she saw a post about it on social media. Now, visiting the market almost every weekend has become a habit, she said.

"It's like a mini break from my stressful work life. Some people go hiking in the mountains during the weekend, I hike to the market," she said, as she waited at a stall to buy some freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, which she plans to use later to make sugar cane Americano.

The young techie said the best-part about visiting the market is that she can wear casual and comfortable clothes, and no makeup at all. "I know for sure that no one will judge me here. I quite like the crowd of shoppers at the market, even though I hate crowds in general because I have to squeeze into packed subway trains to go to work every morning," she said.

Shopping at the Shahe Market has helped her cut down her monthly spending on groceries by more than 1,000 yuan ($140), because most products are cheaper than those available at central Beijing's supermarkets, Chen said.

"For example, the price of strawberries, which I love, is nearly half here compared with the price of strawberries at the supermarket near my apartment. In other words, this market is good for the body, the soul and the wallet," said the techie, who has already introduced her friends and colleagues to the Shahe Market.

Chen, who has also been sharing her experiences on social media, has come across many like-minded young people who see visiting open-air markets as fun. "Together, we have located more such markets in the suburbs of Beijing, and I am planning to visit them one by one."

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