|Zhushikou (珠市口 Zhūshìkǒu) street is at the southern end of the hutong. It used to continue the hutong neighborhoods, and in some places, still does. Below, the Top Century Shopping Center holds lots of small businesses that used to be in the neighborhood. This is a common modernization practice. Street vendors and open air markets are moved into a central building. They pay higher rents for their spaces than they did when they rented a space in a market. Often, it is a successful transition, but sometimes the new space is just too far from the original neighborhood and the vendors have no customers.
The practice tends to limit entry into the retail market. The open air morning markets and Saturday markets have been a conduit for the poor or the immigrant farmer to move up in the economy. They may start by renting a space where they can spread a blanket or tarp to display their goods, then move up to a table. They may then move to a better market where there is more traffic, but the rents are higher. In that case, they may be able to afford to keep both spaces open; one member of the family will stay behind. Eventually, the family might be able to hire others to sit in the market to do the selling while they move into management positions concentrating on the wholesale market and distribution.
Last update: August 2009
© Marilyn Shea, 2009