Morning markets, also called Zaoshi'e in Chinese, is a place where people can get
real nice stuff at a competing price. The markets first appeared by the north gate of Worker's Stadium and Xibianmen in the 1980s when there were many laid off workers who needed something to do with their days. Later they fanned out across the city and most stay open from early morning to noon. At first, vendors sold only vegetables, fruit and similar foods. Over time, the markets attracted vendors peddling sea food, pots and bowls.
Why the markets are popular
The morning markets remain popular today, but their origins go back to the 1980s.
At that time, there were many laid off workers who needed something to do with their days. The markets first appeared by the north gate of Worker's Stadium and Xibianmen, and then fanned out across the city. Most stay open from early morning to noon.Morning markets were set up on each street of each community in each district. As of last year, the city has about 100 morning markets located in its crowded residential areas. At first, vendors sold only vegetables, fruit and similar foods. Over time, the markets attracted vendors peddling sea food, pots and bowls.
The markets quickly grew popular with locals, and during summer, vendors would come to provide snacks and hairdressing services. Generally, making sales was not the order of the day.
The earliness of the morning markets is precisely why they attract so many old people. Generally, the time the markets open is exactly after when they finish their morning exercises. It is a great way for old Beijingers to relax and gossip after morning exercise.
Vegetables and fruits are cheaper than those sold in grocery shops and supermarkets: that is because they are picked by the vendors fresh from their own fields each morning. The markets are also a place open to haggling. Many vendors will throw in some extra produce as a bonus if shoppers buy a lot.
Aside from vegetables, fruits and other foods, most goods sold are fairly low-end. Shoes can cost 2 yuan, and a suit of clothes can run 10. Some products are fake or inferior quality, but most people who visit morning markets care little about authenticity-they care about price
What do residents think of morning markets?
You should call it Zaoshi'e! It is a typical Beijing experience and I love it. I come here every morning to exercise and also to buy cheep vegetables.
Ma Xiuqin, 55, retire
The fruits and vegetables here are really good. They are all freshly picked by farmers, and if you buy a lot, they will often give you a bonus. They are really nice people!
Zhu Quangui, 59, retired
I come here every day before I go to work. I buy breakfast here and sometimes get fruit for my coworkers. They are really cheap.
Shui Tuyuan, 28, editor
My home is on the same street as the Tuanjiehu morning market. On weekends, the markets make me crazy. They start at 6 am or earlier, and you can hear all the people bargaining and shouting and their children crying. I can never sleep well on weekend mornings.
Luo Xiaoxia, 25, advertisement copywriter
My grandparents get up at 5 am to go to the morning markets. I don't know why they wake up so early to shop there everything the market has is available in the supermarket, and it only costs an extra two yuan. I don't know. Maybe they just like the atmosphere.
(Beijing Today January 24, 2008)