Family business


Children are excellent sales people at the market. Adorable ones attract browsing customers, even if you’re just selling garlic and ginger. 

To call this grandmother’s place of merchandise a stall is a bit of a stretch. She had two baskets of produce that registered a few coins per purchase. Yet it seemed like a way to pass the time while caring for her grandchildren. 

The family was from Shandong province, as were their neighbouring vendors. The market street was sometimes clustered according to your province and hometown, common in migratory patterns.

An old security guard stopped by, played with the children for a bit and bought a few pieces of ginger. Barely 3, the older child, after wiping her snot-riddled fingers on her clothes, picked up the produce awkwardly and bagged them while everyone watched her move in painfully-slow motion.

Next to her, the baby boy, wrapped up in a permanent ball of fleece, simply stared into space while concentrating on standing upright, with much futility.

“Good girl!” a few people clapped enthusiastically when the girl sucessfully bagged the produce. She giggled at the attention.

Suddenly, from behind us, someone snapped in jest, “Oei! Little girl, hurry up! I’m in a rush. Two pieces of garlic.”

More about Shanghai’ street markets here and here.

January 2010

2 Responses to “Family business”

  1. 1 Svend
    April 5, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Really good picture here Sue Anne. I especially like the innoncent happy stare of the kid to the right. For me your post processing is really interesting.

    Yeah these markets will disappear, but not as fast as we think. The fast pace up to Expo has superimposed a super-rapid sense of development and modernization of Shanghai, which makes one wonder how it will go after.


    • April 6, 2010 at 11:54 am

      Actually Svend, these markets have been slowly shifting into properly built wet markets we find everywhere. They are encouraging refrigeration for meats (especially important for summer) and cordoned areas for live fish and poultry. I think this is important for promoting good hygiene especially in crowded cities in Shanghai. However, many hawkers find foot traffic better for business and camp on the streets, others also can’t afford the rent of proper markets.

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