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Farewell, 'hole in the wall' stores

By Guo Yiming and Sun Tao
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, July 21, 2017
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In Sanhuqiao South Street of Beijing's Haidian District, a typical residential and commercial alleyway filled with noise and traffic, Mrs. Rong and her husband are as usual opening their rusty door and window for business early on the morning of July 19.

For the shoemaker couple however, it was their last day.

Ms. Rong and her husband, who opened a shoemaking and repair shop for 18 years in Beijing, contemplate their last day of business ahead of the deadline for closure on July 20. [Photo by Sun Tao/]

Having been in the craft for 18 years, the middle-aged couple had rented a 10-square-meter bungalow by the street and started their small business in what became known as a "kai qiang da dong," meaning "to open holes in the wall," just as millions of other migrant workers in big cities have done.

Months ago, they were told that all the unauthorized structures and storefronts must close down and be sealed up by July 20 as part of a cleanup campaign to improve the urban environment all across China's capital.

Like their neighbors, a hardware store and a leather clothes maker, Rong has put their inventories on sale over the past weeks before the final closing day.

"We are now selling the products at a loss, around 100 yuan (US$14.8) for a pair of brand-new hand-made leather shoes," said Rong. "After tomorrow, we'll have no job and nowhere to go; and we might probably head back to our hometown in Anhui Province."

A cleanup campaign

For all the other jerry-built, sidewalk-clogging stalls and storefronts, their fate is the same.

According to the guideline of the campaign, Beijing is on course to crack down on 16,000 "holes in the wall" side-stores, dismantle 40 million square meters of illegal buildings and structures, and upgrade over 100 markets across six municipal districts by the end of the year.

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