Farah F. Shah
The evidence of weekly markets can date back to the European markets of 1960’s (or before) when the authorities organized these markets to cater to the needs of the lower income groups. These have typically and traditionally been an example of informal type of markets with essentially no particular skills required to enter the market or run a business. The market is open to all businesses as there are no requirements for entry and exit. Small producers and sellers usually flourish/thrive in such type of markets. Small scale markets are essential for developing economies as there is low employment creation in government and big private sectors. These small markets can help mitigate unemployment problem. Not only are these markets dynamic but help to absorb shocks of unprecedented nature showing their resilience as compared to bigger units.
Our very own Sunday Market, near Polo Ground, is one such example of a weekly and small market. However insignificant it may seem but it does have economic implications. It is essentially a source of employment generation, development of entrepreneurship skills, creation of product diversification to meet the needs of consumers and also demand generation from consumer’s point of view.
In an economy like ours, where employment generation is not able to keep pace with the ever increasing workforce, there emerges a trend of setting up of businesses like street vending .The lesser prevailing job opportunities have pushed people mostly those who have no special skills, to take entrepreneurial decisions in their own small ways and develop a source of livelihood for themselves with whatever little capital they have. These ventures do not necessarily need a huge initial capital investment. It can be seen clearly as one of the cases of “Survival Techniques’. If we study the behavior of these street vendors intricately it speaks for itself how less educated/barely skilled people are able to firstly generate employment for themselves and secondly show exemplary entrepreneurial skills.
This market has shown a great deal of diversity in terms of its products. Its products include a variety of clothes, footwear, home decor, electronic gadgets etc. Over the years the market has increased not only in terms of sellers but also in terms of consumers. It has catered to the needs of a substantial portion of population from in and around the adjoining areas. Without actually realizing it, the vendors have put into practice what we call in economic terms as ‘Product Diversification.’ Studying and witnessing the needs of the consumers, the vendors have targeted the selling of the products that have demand in the market. The market is molded into such a place that it would be injustice to not to call it the modern day single place shopping venture/mall, which almost has all the products of the daily needs of an average middle class individual. The products being offered are both first hand and second hand which means there are both standard and substandard products available. Usually the first hand products are the ones which are manufactured locally and the second hand products being the ones which are imported but supplied through the local suppliers. The products which are not firsthand are either used or are defectives which the manufacturers do not put for final sale, they reject the items instead. These items are then sold to the suppliers by the various agents who further sell them to the vendor’s or the people dealing with this type of selling.
It is also an incredible example of how the vendor’s have responded to the demands of the consumers by changing and adjusting their products as per the seasonal requirements. We are geographically located at a position where four seasons are experienced with considerable weather fluctuations thereby altering our needs too. For example, in winter our needs with respect to clothes and accessories change and same applies for summer .Therefore the market has established itself in such a way that its products have suitable demand at suitable time which means it functions throughout the year.
The composition of the consumers is quite diverse- the young and the old, high income and low income individuals, working and non-working class, urban and rural population. This owes to the fact that the larger and wider needs are being met deriving maximum satisfaction to the consumers of different classes.
The market is only spread out on approximately one thousand meters of pavement but it carries within itself the complex phenomenon of any big and fancy marketplace. Howsoever small it may be but it holds within it all the functions and characteristics of any big or small regular market place.
Indeed, “Small is Beautiful.”
—(The article is based on a survey/study conducted by a group of Postgraduate(Eco) students in 2010)
—The author can be reached at: [email protected]